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Short breaks for children with disabilities

by Laura Johnston

Do you have a child with a disability? If so, you may be eligible for Knowsley’s Short Breaks Service.

Short breaks give children and young people with a disability an opportunity to join in with fun activities in the community. It’s for those who attend special or mainstream schools and colleges – from reception up to their 19th birthday. The scheme is part of a wider range of services available to parents and carers of children with disabilities and special needs (SEND) called the ‘Local Offer’.

Shelley’s story

Like every parent, Huyton teacher Shelley Lopez wants to know that when she’s not around her child is safe, well cared for and happy.

Shelley’s 10-year-old daughter, Lilly, has Downs Syndrome and for the last seven years has regularly attended activities organised by Knowsley Council’s Short Breaks Service.

Shelley explained: “Lilly is non-verbal and a wheelchair user so needs one to one support to attend any activity away from home, but like any 10-year-old she likes to socialise with other children and do fun things.

“Due to her support needs I struggled to find activities Lilly could join in with; that’s why getting involved with the short breaks service has made such a difference to both our lives.”

Lilly, a pupil at Bluebell Park School in Kirkby currently attends after school sessions run by Merseyside Youth Association as well as twice weekly holiday club sessions, all organised by the short breaks service.

“Lilly needs to be constantly stimulated so there are lots of activities she can get involved with, including sensory room sessions and socialising with other children,” Shelley said.

“I know she enjoys the activities as she get so excited before going and, as a parent , it’s good to know she is safe and having a lovely time with young people her own age.”

As well as enabling children and young people to get involved with activities in the community, the short breaks service also gives parents and carers a break from their caring role. Shelley added: “As a single parent and a working mum, I’ve really appreciated the support I’ve received from the short breaks service and would encourage other families to get involved.”

If you’d be interested in getting involved with Knowsley’s Short Breaks Service or to find out more, contact the Early Help Children with Disabilities Team on 0151 443 2677 or email shortbreaks@knowsley.gov.uk
You can also visit the Knowsley Family Information Service website.