CHIPS started as a pilot project by Herts County Council in 1994, with a small summer playscheme in Hertford for 20 children with additional needs and their siblings. It aimed to offer time off for parents and good fun for the children. The pilot project was developed by a group of parents including Davina Foster, Julia Everett, Judy Saint and Gill Weeks working with far sighted Social Workers including Ann Sypula. They discussed which model of provision would be of most benefit to both parents and children. They hit upon the idea of a specialist scheme which would include siblings and CHIPS was born. The first playleader, Shirley Roper developed the ethos of child led choice in play, which continues at all our schemes.
In 1996, due to increased demand and popularity, CHIPS was established in both Ware and Bishops Stortford.
In 1998 the scheme had grown to such an extent that it was decided that the organisation should split from social services and become independent. During that year CHIPS applied for and won charitable status, and parents supported by local professionals formed a committee to maintain and develop the charity to ensure its long term stability and growth. At this point it became clear that CHIPS had something very unique and special – and it was agreed that the organisation should grow, offering its support and services to a wider audience.
In 2007 CHIPS launched the first scheme in neighbouring Broxbourne. The summer scheme in Cheshunt was fully funded for three years by Hertfordshire County Council after CHIPS successfully won a tender in 2006. One of the key strengths of the successful CHIPS tender was the hard work and dedication of Julie McCulloch – a parent from the area who had led a high profile campaign in the local press for a suitable playscheme for her son after he was unable to attend a council scheme due to the his additional needs.
CHIPS now offer crucial support to over 225 families, of which there are some 250 children with additional needs and their siblings, and covers the East Herts District Council and Broxbourne areas. CHIPS has built a reputation throughout the county and beyond as being the first scheme of its kind to offer this type of service.
To find out more about CHIPS as an organisation please navigate the various sections under the ‘About Us’ menu above.