Short breaks can make a real difference for young people

Posted by / Tuesday 21 June 2016 /
girl in wheelchair wearing a crown

Services for children with disabilities have changed. Our short breaks projects are no longer only about giving parent carers a break. Short breaks are about making a real difference for the young people that take part.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the diverse and wonderful services that we offer and we are good at what we do.

Group of young people talking

Today in the UK:

  • 1 in 20 children are born disabled
  • 4 in 10 families with a disabled child live in poverty
  • 40 per cent of carers looking after disabled children are lone parents
  • Families of disabled children report particularly high levels of stress and isolation and often don’t know where or how to look for support

We've helped parents like Kitty and her son Joshua. Joshua has severe autism and is non-verbal. Signs of any developmental delay weren’t seen until around the age of 22 months where, rather than progressing, Joshua regressed and any speech formed and interaction stopped completely.

Joshua started at a wonderful Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) school. It was a wonderfully supportive and caring school,but despite this, Joshua was finding life increasingly hard to cope with, suffering severe anxiety and episodes of great distress. This is when we started at The Pines.

The Pines were aware of everything I was going through and were very supportive of Joshua and the family. With lots of professionals and assessments involved, it was a great help for the staff to present at meetings about how we could all meet Joshua’s needs. It meant so much that they went the extra mile for our family.

Read Kitty and Joshua's whole story


Our services make a real difference. That difference may sometimes be tricky to measure but is very real: 

  • Short breaks keep families together
  • Community services get children with disabilities into the community they are part of
  • Residential homes offer a safe and stimulating environment for children when they can no longer live with their families
  • We provide support when families first get a diagnosis.

The personalisation agenda has meant changes. It means choice and control for families and we are embracing this agenda. In Scotland, Self Directed Support pilots are exploring personalised commissioning for criminal justice, residential care and young carers services. This isn’t just an agenda for disabled children and young people’s services.

Society doesn’t always prioritise disabled children – let’s not be like that.

We have the opportunity to do great things. We all have shifts to make and we can all make a difference by getting the language right. When talking about young people with disabilities, we have to put the young person first. Never again saying disabled children’s services are not a priority.