Since April 2011, local authorities have been under a duty to provide a range of short breaks services for disabled children, young people and their families. The new short breaks duty aims to improve and expand short break services, ensuring a wide range of high quality opportunities and providing positive life experiences for children and young people, as well as a break for their parents and carers.
In 2012-13 £40 million of capital funding has been made available to local authorities from the Government. Hampshire was allocated £824,977 for this year.
Together with Parent Voice, we approached Hampshire County Council (HCC) to find out how it planned to use the funding. A meeting was arranged with representatives from HCC, HPCN and Parent Voice to discuss HCC’s thoughts at the early stages. HCC was keen to use some or all of the funding to provide Occupational Therapy (OT) equipment and resources. However, we felt it was important to identify parents’ priorities regarding accessing short breaks. Parent Voice, therefore, undertook a survey, and over 100 parents responded immediately. The results of this survey are available online.
Following the collation of the feedback, we met again with HCC and discussed how to take things forward. Parents' priorities for equipment to access mainstream leisure activities such as swimming were high on the list, and we came to an agreement with HCC that part of the money would be spent on OT equipment and the remainder would be spent on parent-led initiatives across the whole of Hampshire.
The Parent Voice Bridging Worker team and HPCN parent reps then looked at what was most needed locally and we developed a short list of projects to discuss with HCC. These projects were explored further regarding feasibility and a final list was drawn up.