Massive rise in demand for 'short break' services for disabled children and young people in Hartlepool
Councillors have praised those who provide the ‘short breaks’ services in the town after an increase in the number of residents using the provision.
The short breaks service provides disabled children and young people with the opportunity to spend time away from their parents, and provide families with a break from their caring responsibilities.
Families First North East provide the commissioned short break service on behalf of the local authority, and offer services such as after-school activities, holiday play schemes, sports sessions, weekend activities, a toy loan service and more.
The council also provide a number of opportunities for short breaks for children with disabilities themselves, including weekly sessions on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Hartlepool Borough Council Children’s Services Committee was provided with an update on the short break services delivered in the town and plans for the future.
A report from Families First North East said they had 10,631 attendances in the last year, and this number has continued to rise in this current year.
From 2016/17 to 2017/18 there was a 34.24% increase in demand for services, and from 2017/18 to 2018/19 there was a further 9.05% increase.
It also said over the past three years 35, 322 hours of activity have been provided, which is also continuing to rise.
Coun Shane Moore, council leader, praised the ‘phenomenal service’ which is on offer and the support it provides to families.
He said: “It does make a massive difference to families who use these services.
“The service that they provide for our young children is phenomenal.
“I know multiple families who take advantage of various services across the town, and it really is a god send for both the parents and the children.”
An evaluation report submitted by organisers showed the services were heavily praised and enjoyed by those who took part in them.
It also highlighted how the service looks to help young people attending improve communication skills, confidence, mental health, social skills, friendships, behaviour and more.
Coun Sue Little praised the staff for the service they provide to children.
She said: “Well done to the staff, because if it wasn’t for the staff, the children wouldn’t want to go. They are doing a marvellous job.
“They should have gold stars every single one of them.”