National disability charity, Sense, calls for local authorities to follow in Birmingham City Council’s footsteps

Sense logoNational disability charity, Sense, is calling on local authorities to commit to providing appropriate short breaks for families with children who have multi-sensory impairments or complex needs. The call follows the results of a Birmingham City Council short break pilot scheme for disabled children.

The independent evaluation, conducted by the University of Chester, showed that both the children, and their families, benefitted from the respite.During the short break in Macaroni Woods in the Cotswolds, the children were able to find new interests, build new relationships and friendships, and take part in a range of activities from music, art and baking cakes to go-karting, whilst the families and carers had some respite from caring.

Key findings from the report include:

– 83 percent of carers felt better able to cope following the break

– 100 percent of beneficiaries came home happy from the short break and 80 percent came home relaxed

– 100 percent of beneficiaries stated they would like to go on holiday again next year

– 83 percent of carers said that the holiday allowed them to have an uninterrupted night’s sleep during the week

– 100 percent benefited from the lack of responsibility and stress for a week

– 100 percent said that the holiday is the most significant break they get from caring

Amanda Lippitt is mum to 13 year old Matthew Cockerill. Matthew receives limited respite due to the complex nature of his Autistic Spectrum Disorder and additional medical needs. Amanda was therefore delighted that Matthew could be accommodated for during the short break.

Amanda said:

“I didn’t know about short breaks and was contacted by the family support worker for social services. Matthew had never been on a short break before so there was some anxiety especially as he is non-verbal. However, the staff were absolutely unbelievable and showed huge attention to detail, they made me as a parent feel very comfortable.”

Like all local authorities, Birmingham City Council is legally bound to provide a range of short break services for disabled children. The council currently plans services for up to 7000 children and carers, of which, around 10% are children with substantial complex needs.

Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive at Sense, said:

“Birmingham City Council’s approach to short break provision is innovative, by working in partnership with Sense and the families they were able to create a tailored holiday suited to each individual.

“We would love to see this type of commitment from other local authorities as unfortunately, children and their families often miss out on much needed respite because the provision does not cater for their care needs. For example, they may require specialist communication, management of behavioural needs or assistance with medical problems.

“Programmes like these provide preventative support, by increasing independence and promoting good physical and mental health.”

For further information on Sense short breaks, visit:

About Sense

Sense is a national charity that has supported and campaigned for children and adults who are deafblind for over 60 years. There are currently around 250, 000 deafblind people in the UK.

Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to deafblind people, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them. Further information can be found on Sense’s website –

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