14 August 2017

YMCA East Surrey have been commissioned by Surrey County Council to deliver Play and Leisure Short Breaks for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities across East Surrey.

The vibrant local charity has been awarded a 3-year contract, starting in December 2017, to deliver play (Yippee) and youth (Yip4Youth) schemes in Reigate & Banstead, Mole Valley and Epsom and Ewell, as well as a play scheme for Tandridge.

YMCA East Surrey’s Short Breaks Manager, Stuart Cox, says:

“We are delighted at this opportunity to expand our Short Breaks services. YMCA East Surrey already support many families who have children with medical needs or more profound disability and we will never turn away a child, whatever his or her needs may be. We look forward to welcoming new families to our venues across East Surrey.”

With 15 years’ experience of delivering play and leisure schemes for children and young people with disabilities in Reigate & Banstead, YMCA East Surrey was one of the founding members of the Play and Leisure Consortium, the group of charities who first identified the need for specialised provision to help children with disabilities to develop and to give parents and siblings a break from caring.

The YMCA’s team of qualified and experienced staff already deliver schemes on Saturdays, throughout all school holidays and after school. Last year, the charity delivered 37,000 hours of short breaks.

“Our schemes offer a variety of activities and day trips and aim to help children and young people gain confidence, learn new skills, stay safe and healthy and find a sense of belonging,” says Stuart Cox. “We believe that every child and young person regardless of ability should be able to enjoy fun activities in safe and stimulating surroundings.”

Daniel*, 10, and James*, 8, have complex special needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Global Developmental Delay. Daniel has also been diagnosed with a chromosomal deletion. The brothers were adopted by Jane and John at a young age.

“Before the boys started coming to the YMCA, we felt like we were sinking,” says Redhill resident Jane. “Every day was an enormous challenge. When the boys were young, Daniel would either be laughing or screaming and James had so much uncontrollable energy that he just ran in circles. We love them but we were at the end of our tether.”

Her husband, John, agrees: “It isn’t an exaggeration to say that we were not enjoying life.”

Yippee provides age appropriate activities for children aged 5-11 with a wide range of disabilities and complex needs. The playscheme ensures that children can play with friends and try out new activities, whilst giving families some much needed support.

“Yippee was heaven-sent,” says Jane. “It feels like one big family and the staff know the boys so well now. We used to feel guilty that we needed this help but we just couldn’t keep up with the pace.”

“When we pick Daniel and James up from Yippee, the joy on their faces is a pleasure to see and they are calm and tired. It’s given them the opportunity to make good, solid friendships and John and I the chance to have a couple of hours together.”

With new funding this year, YMCA East Surrey have been able to accommodate children who need one-to-one support whilst in their care to a level of 40% within the Yippee group.

There are currently 272 children and young people registered with Yippee and Yip4Youth, the YMCA’s youth club, weekend and school holiday scheme for 12-18-year olds with disabilities and complex needs.

John has had to take early retirement, due to the stress involved in looking after two young children with complex needs.

“The YMCA’s Short Breaks team have helped us enormously,” he says. “We are really confident in them as service providers and thrilled and relieved that they have been awarded this contract. Our lives were an ordeal that was weakening us, day by day, and Yippee saved us.”

YMCA East Surrey will be holding an open event on Saturday 23rd September at the YMCA Sovereign Centre, Reigate, from 10am to midday. The event will provide an opportunity for families to meet YMCA staff, see this particular venue and complete care plans to register their child for any of the schemes, including those at Linden Bridge School in Ewell and the Malthouse Youth Centre and other venue to be confirmed in Mole Valley.

For further information, please call 01737 222859.

*Names have been changed to protect identity for personal reasons