Short break fund for disabled children launched

image captionThe funding is aimed at helping children who have complex needs

A short breaks fund for disabled children and their families of almost £2m is being launched this week.

The Scottish government announced the scheme in February and has now appointed bodies to administer applications from groups and families.

A total of £1.3m is available to organisations who provide respite care, with a further £558,450 for direct support to families.

The Better Breaks and Take a Break schemes launch on Tuesday.

Better Breaks has a closing date of 1 February for applications from organisations for grants between £10,000 and £50,000 for respite for families, children and young people with multiple support needs.

Grants between £200 and £500 will be provided under Take a Break, which closes on 31 March.

It is designed for families caring for a disabled or seriously ill child to choose their own break, or buy items such as camping equipment or bicycles.

'Real difference'

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: "Caring for a disabled child is immensely rewarding and fulfilling but can sometimes be challenging and stressful."

The minister added: "This package of funding is focused on giving families with a disabled child up to the age of 20 the opportunity for a short break, taken either together or separately."

Welcoming the announcement, Penny Stafford, from Edinburgh, whose 19-year-old son Adam has additional support needs, said: "Over the years it has often proved difficult for Adam to access social and leisure activities with other children his age and as a result, he is very socially isolated.

"This new fund could be the catalyst for making a real difference to the range of opportunities that are open to children and young people and to families."

Adam Stafford said: "I want there to be more opportunities for disabled young people to take part in mainstream youth activities."

Direct support

The £1.3m Better Breaks fund will be organised through Shared Care Scotland.

Chief executive Don Williamson said: "We know how important it is for all children and young people to be able to take up interests and activities that are enjoyable and fulfilling, and how important it is for families to have some time to recharge their batteries."

The £558,450 of direct support for families will be managed by the Family Fund.

Chief executive Derek Walpole said: "This funding is a clear step in the right direction empowering families to make their own choices, realise opportunities and lead an ordinary life."

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