Children and young people with Special Education Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) in Wiltshire will continue to enjoy clubs and short-break activities after charity Barnardo’s secured a three year contract. Wiltshire Council re-awarded the charity the £570,000 contract to run the Wiltshire Short Breaks & Positive Activities Service which aims to increase opportunities for eligible children and young people aged from six to 18-years-old.
The new contract begins on 1 April 2019, providing thousands of hours of support each year.
Activities enjoyed at short breaks activity clubs include swimming, trampolining, cooking, sports, music and trips to the cinema, as well as arts and crafts.
The Barnardo’s charity also provides youth clubs for young people aged 13 to 18-years-old with additional needs, and social clubs for children and young people on the autistic spectrum.
Barnardo’s currently uses venues across the county, including Marlborough, Chippenham, Devizes, Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon.
Working closely with Elizabeth House, the charity also provides a short breaks service and social club in Salisbury.
In response to parent carer feedback, new additions to the contract will include music workshops in the summer holidays which will lead to a performance in front of families.
Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for children’s services said: “We know these activities really benefit children and young people with disabilities, helping to increase their confidence and improve their social skills. It also means greater inclusion within the local community.
“Barnardo’s has a good track record of providing a great service for our children and young people with disabilities and I look forward to them continuing this extremely important service.”
Barnardo’s children’s services manager Liz James said: “We’ve been managing this important service for disabled children and young people since 2010 and are therefore delighted that it’s been secured for the next three years, and possibly longer.
“Our dedicated and experienced teams provide fun, safe and personalised activities which offer life-changing opportunities for friendship and socialising. We also arrange regular outings to ensure that children and young people can integrate into the community and participate in local events. It’s also vitally important for the parents. Many tell us that short breaks are the only respite they have, providing much-needed time to ‘recharge their batteries’ and focus on other members of the family.”
In addition, Barnardo’s will be actively exploring opportunities to work with and empower community groups, as well as offering opportunities for young people to volunteer in its local stores; and offering supported internships. Barnardo’s will also be accessing charitable grants and other forms of fundraising to be able to further strengthen the service and offer greater opportunities for children and young people.
Stuart Hall, Strategic Director of the Wiltshire Parent Carer Council said: “Year on year we have seen the positive activity clubs delivered by Barnardo’s becoming more and more popular. Families often tell us that these opportunities are vital for their children and young people, as for some children with the most complex needs there are very few alternative leisure and social opportunities that enable them to socialise.
“Barnardo’s has consistently been keen to work positively and in partnership with parent carers to shape and inform the service they have delivered over the years, and we are confident that this positive relationship will continue. We are particularly excited by Barnardo’s commitment to support and empower community groups, and deliver music workshops during the summer school holiday, all of which is in direct response to feedback as a result of parent participation.
“In response to our annual Short Breaks consultation, parents praised Barnardo’s and offered feedback such as: ‘These clubs are a lifeline for us as a family, especially during school holidays’, ‘The Barnardo’s clubs have proved to be an incredible opportunity for my child to access a youth club style of setting he would otherwise never experience. ‘The staff and volunteers at Barnardo’s are what makes the club a wholly suitable activity for my son to access safely, calmly and confidently’.
For further information on the Wiltshire Short Breaks & Positive Activities Service, including how to join as a volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (01249 463907).