Give a little time - make a big difference. Call for carers to come forward
Wiltshire Council is asking people to consider offering a lifeline to families with children who may have a range of needs, by training to be a carer as part of the Overnight Short Breaks Scheme.
The council has a team of carers who 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 do everyday tasks people take for granted, and sometimes they need a break.
Rachel, one of the overnight short break carers, explains: "One of the many reasons we enjoy being short breaks carers is that the young person we care for has become a part of our family and we have become a huge part of his life."
Another couple Rachel and Chris have been overnight short breaks carers since 2015.
Chris said: "It felt good to be able to give something back to the local community. We had time to commit to a young person and we felt we could provide a safe place for them to stay.
Rachel added: One of the many reasons we enjoy being overnight short break carers is the young person we care for has also become part of our family and we have become a huge part of his life. We have seen how the break not only benefits him but also helps his family."
The carer looks after the child in their own home and this could be for as little as two nights per month or more if people have more time to offer and wish to be carers for several children up to becoming a full-time career. The regular arrangement means it's possible to build a long-term relationship with the child and their family.
One of those families grateful for the service explains: "Overnight short breaks mean we are lucky enough to be able to give my other children some much-needed time, to do things with them that are day to day more difficult to do with their sibling."
The arrangement also provides the child with new experiences, fun and opportunities within a family home setting.
Wiltshire Council is holding an information evening on December 6 at 7pm on this link https://bit.ly/2Jc1hV8 to focus specifically on this role. People will be able to hear about what the role entails and ask questions and listen to carers who have carried out the role.
The council is asking people to consider the role as internationally people are marking December 3 as The International Day of People with Disabilities. This year's theme is 'not all disabilities are visible'.
Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: "Families who use this service know this is a real lifeline. Their child will be having a break in a loving home while they can take that much needed-time to have a break.
"We really want to thank all our carers for their amazing work - they make such a difference. We provide ongoing support and training for our carers 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:
Tel: 0800 169 6321