Joseph’s mum, Ruth, explained what life is like for her son and how they have been helped by Action for Children: “Joseph has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound.  He cannot sit unaided, he has no movement in his legs or his right arm. He has very basic communication skills and cannot make clearly-formed words.
Joseph has very complex needs and relies on us for all his care – feeding, washing and dressing him. He doesn’t sleep well, so we’re up frequently every night too. Caring for Joseph has a massive impact on our family life. It is a full-time job and we both have jobs to hold down as well”

Joseph started going to a Saturday club at Warren Park when he was about eight, then by ten started residential short breaks and since then has had three nights away a month to give his parents respite break from caring.

Short breaks are absolutely essential for us to be able to function as a family. It’s wonderful to have a place he can go, where we can trust them to look after him well and where he feels safe and can mix with other people.
Ruth, Joseph's mum

Ruth says it’s often impossible for her and her husband to do even simple things with their youngest son Billy when Joseph’s at home, such as taking him to the park to play football.

“We can’t take Joseph out of the house for more than a few hours at a time but when Joseph’s at Warren Park we’re able to take Billy out for the day or even go away for the weekend. It’s lovely not to have to think about Joseph for a little while. I do feel very guilty that I cannot give Billy enough attention when Joseph’s at home, so when Joseph’s at Warren Park it’s lovely to dedicate that time to Billy.”

Joseph is very sociable and a big music fan – with Taylor Swift and Sam Smith among his favourite pop stars – and he really enjoys interacting with staff and other young people.

“He’s very sociable, although he can’t always participate, he enjoys observing other people doing things. He doesn’t really have a friendship group outside of school, but at Warren Park there are other young people he sees regularly and they can interact with each other. The staff are a really important aspect also – he has regular staff, who are his friends really, and they play with him, it’s really important. He loves having people around him making him laugh, he has a good sense of humour.”

We can have a bit more of a normal life when Joseph’s on his short break. It’s so important to have a break from our caring duties and be able to focus on our other son. Warren Park is a lifeline for our family. I don’t know what we’d do without it.
Ruth, Joseph's mum

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