A survey of parents of children with a disability by ‘Contact a Family’ revealed the‘shocking extent of their childrens exclusion from ordinary leisure opportunities and their families’ resulting isolation from a world that most of us take for granted‘.
Most children look forward to the summer holidays but for many of our members and their families the holidays can bring stress, frustration and isolation. The summer holidays is the period in the year when support from statutory and other agencies is most limited, leaving families with disabled children under extreme pressure. Children attending specialist education may not have the opportunity to make friends in the local community and may become isolated during holidays, especially in rural areas such as North Wilts.
Our activities are the only source of accessible leisure and recreation for many young people with special needs in North Wiltshire during the summer holidays, as well as being an important source of respite breaks for families.
Accessible activities for young people with special needs
Most young people enjoy a choice of fun activities during the holidays. The support and access needs of our members mean that they miss out on many activities and may have very little social life during the ‘holidays’.
We believe they deserve some fun, and our activities are the only source of accessible leisure and recreation for many young people with special needs in North Wiltshire during the summer holidays.
Mainstream activities are often inaccessible to young people with various disabilities, and many organised activity programmes cannot accommodate young people with high support needs.
It is also much more difficult for young people with high support needs to enjoy informal activities such as going to the park with friends, and they face barriers in accessing other leisure activities too. This can lead to isolation and frustration during the holidays.
Many young people with high support needs rarely have the opportunity to choose their own activities and socialise away from family or teachers. This is an important aspect of growing up, vital for the development of independence, self-confidence and social skills but young people with multiple and complex disabilities have particular difficulty accessing these opportunities.
Our high staff ratio and child-centred ethos enable members to be supervised and supported in their chosen activities, an important aspect of Holiday Club.
Support for families and carers
Families are often left to care for their disabled child with little or no support during the ‘holidays’, putting pressure on parents and families. We provide a few hours’ break, allowing parents to focus on their other children, do things that are impossible when caring for their disabled child or just take a well-deserved break.
More is needed!
There is a huge need for more accessible activities for young people with special needs, particularly those with multiple and complex disabilities and high individual care needs, and for respite provision for exhausted families who are often left to take care of their child 24/7 during the long summer ‘holidays’.