National charity launches inquiry to highlight the problems children with multiple needs encounter accessing play opportunities

Sense launch play inquiry - pictured is Ernie medium res

  • Inquiry calls for evidence from specialists and parents of children with multiple needs
  • Former Secretary of State for Education & Employment, David Blunkett, to Chair inquiry
  • National deafblind charity, Sense, will issue inquiry report in early 2016 

Sense, the national deafblind charity, has launched ‘The Case for Play’ inquiry into the provision of play opportunities for children aged 0-5 with multiple needs, in England and Wales. Sense is calling for evidence from parents of children with multiple needs, specialists from the disability sector and practitioners. The inquiry report will be issued in early 2016.

Play is a crucial part of every child’s development, helping them to develop social and communication skills. However, children with multiple needs often face barriers to accessing and enjoying play. Today, Sense, who have supported and campaigned for people with multiple impairments for the last 60 years, would like families and professionals to come forward to share their experiences of the issue.

Former Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, will chair the inquiry, alongside Lesley Rogers, a parent of a deafblind child with multiple needs.  Julie Jennings, from RNIB, will provide expert guidance.

The evidence submitted to the inquiry will form the basis of a report setting out recommendations for national and local government and organisations that provide play opportunities.

The Inquiry will focus on answering the following questions:

  • What is the impact of play for children with multiple needs and their families?
  • Do barriers exist to young children with multiple needs accessing play settings and activities?
  • What can be done to increase play opportunities for young children with multiple needs?

Former Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett said: “I believe that play is an essential part of a child’s development. It’s how we begin to understand the world around us. I hope that this inquiry will help lift the lid on the barriers that are preventing children with multiple needs from enjoying play activities, and potentially holding back their development.”

Sense Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Kramer said: “We know from our experience working with deafblind children and families that play settings and activities are not always accessible to children with multiple needs. As an example, parents and professionals often need more support to understand how to engage disabled children in play successfully.  The inquiry will show the extent of the problem and help us to outline recommendations to improve the situation. We hope that parents and specialists take the opportunity to share their views and experiences.”

How to submit evidence:

There are several ways parents and professionals can submit evidence the inquiry.  These include taking part in online surveys, attending focus groups and responding in writing. To find out how to get involved visit: www.sense.org.uk/content/play.

The deadline for the submission of evidence is 27 November 2015.

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