Short breaks for Children & Young People in Nottingham City

Partnership project that sees Community Catalysts working with Nottingham City Council. Started in September 2022 and is running for 10 months.

The project has a focus on disabled children and young people and their families. It aims to find ways to increase the range of options, activities, groups and opportunities available in the City. Opportunities rooted in local communities that give young people and their families a break from each other, whilst also enabling children to have a great time.

This new project will develop and test a new approach.

Work began by making sure we heard from young people, parents and carers, so that work could build on what is really wanted and needed. To this end we developed a survey and had conversations with people, directly and through local organisations and the parent/carer forum.

People told us things like:

The most important part is having a very compassionate staff who can keep the child not only engaged and happy

Number 1 important thing would be that you feel your child is safe

…people can socialise and have a sense of community

The next stage saw the engagement of people who were potentially interested in offering short breaks support. Then we began to design a tailored development programme to help local people who already run organisations, enterprises and groups to diversify what they do. The programme will help them to understand what is needed by young people and their families and take steps to offer it.

Positive work is also underway with creative leaders within the Council to help them understand the systemic and cultural blocks to choice. Then to adapt the ways they currently buy and offer activities and support, developing new ways that work for a wider range of community organisations.

There is a particular interest in the development of opportunities for children and young people who have complex health needs and/or physical disabilities; those who communicate in ways that others find challenging; youngsters with learning disability or who are autistic. We are focussing on children over 8 and on teenagers in particular. We know that both 1:1 support and group options are important when it comes to choice.

We are hopeful that enterprises and groups that emerge from the process will offer local support that enables children and young people to do a range of different things in their community, funded by the council as much as possible, either directly or using Direct Payments. We are also hopeful that the adapted systems that emerge from this partnership process will ensure this growth in choice is viable, sustainable and replicable moving forward.