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Information evening to help people find out more about overnight short break care

People interested in offering overnight short break care for children with additional needs for small periods of time are being invited to attend an information evening this month to find out more.

Published 10 March 2021
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People interested in offering overnight short break care for children with additional needs for small periods of time are being invited to attend an information evening this month to find out more.

Wiltshire Council operates an Overnight Short Breaks Scheme offering a lifeline to families with children who may have a range of needs.

The team of carers are trained and supported to provide regular breaks for children with autism, learning disabilities or physical disabilities.

Families who are bringing up a child with disabilities often find it very difficult to have time to themselves, to spend time with their other children, or to do everyday tasks people take for granted, and sometimes they need a break. The scheme provides them with regular support and reassurance their child is being looked after in a loving home.

The carer looks after the child in their own home, and this could be for as little as two nights per month. Or, it could even be a full-time career, if people have more time to offer and wish to be carers for several children. The regular arrangement means it's possible to build a long-term relationship with the child and their family.

Wiltshire Council is holding an information evening on Thursday 25 March at 7pm to focus specifically on this role. People can access the meeting at: https://bit.ly/3qjjLmw. People will be able to hear about what being an overnight short breaks carer entails and ask questions, and listen to carers who have carried out the role.

Overnight Short Breaks carer Gill explained how she has provided respite care for one young boy: "We did the same sort of thing that we would do with any other little person that was staying, we played, we went out for walks we had fun, we went swimming and did messy play and he just needed a lot more help.

"It was an absolute privilege to care for this young man, I used to have him every other weekend and it meant his birth family were able to have a well-deserved break, as this little boy needed round the clock care. But also we had the pleasure of his company and he was able to have some new experiences.

"If you have ever thought about caring for a child with special needs there are many ways that you can learn more about the child, their family and their social worker. You can research the child's condition if it's known online but the best way is to take it a little bit at a time and build up the time that you spend together. It's an awful lot of fun and a very worthwhile thing to do."

Clare is one of the parents who is grateful for the service. She explains: "When our son was able to go for once a month, it really helped us as a family to spend time together that we hadn't been doing before because all our care was for our son, so it was so valuable and so needed. I can't thank everyone enough for all the help they've given us."

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: "Overnight Short Breaks is valued by so many of our families who know their child will be cared for in a loving home while they can have a much needed break.

"Our carers do an amazing job and I want to thank them for the incredible work they do. We always need more carers though, so I would ask anyone who is considering taking up this role to get in touch. We are here for you ready to provide ongoing support and training and we want to encourage more to come forward."

Carers need to be over 21, have the time, a room available for the stay and be healthy enough to meet the physical demands of the role, alongside a genuine interest in looking after a child with disabilities.

To find out more and for an informal discussion, please contact the family-based Overnight Short Break team:

Call: 0800 169 6321

Email: fostering@wiltshire.gov.uk

To find out more about fostering go to Fostering Wiltshire.

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Published 10 March 2021