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Family Information and Services Hub

Short Breaks for Disabled Children

Short breaks enable children and young people with disabilities and/or additional needs to join in with safe, fun and interesting activities, and give parents and carers a break from caring.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Short Breaks Team
01962 846399

Where to go

Short Breaks Activities for Disabled Children
Children’s Services Department,
Elizabeth II Court North (1st Floor),
The Castle
SO23 8UG

Other Details


Age Ranges
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Local Offer

Local Offer
What does your service do?

A range of Short Breaks are offered by the Children with Disabilities service at Hampshire County Council

Short breaks activities can include: * Specialist playschemes and activities for disabled children and young people with moderate or complex needs * Support at mainstream leisure and recreation activities * And a community buddy scheme

This service is part of the Council’s Children’s Services department, which is responsible for a wide range of services including short breaks activities that are open to all families with a child with a disability. There is a lot more detailed information in “Support for Your Family: Short Breaks Service Statement”, a guide which tells you what short breaks are available to support your family and how to find suitable services. This guide was co-produced with parent representatives and can be found at

Who does your service provide for?

Short breaks activities are open to all children/young people who:

* Have a disability/additional needs and may need support to participate fully in leisure or recreation activities * Are aged between 0-19 years old * Live in Hampshire and/or attending a Hampshire school (excluding Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight as they have similar schemes).

How can I start using the service?

OurYou can book places at an activity or playscheme directly with the activity provider. To help with the booking process we have introduced the Gateway Card which is used to identify that your child or young person has a disability and additional needs and requires support to access leisure activities.

The Gateway Card is free and will give you access to activities, playschemes and buddy schemes available through our Short Breaks programme. You can apply for your Gateway Card at, or ask for an application form by calling the Short Breaks team on 01962 846399.

You will still need to pay the standard cost for your child to attend the activity. The Gateway Card scheme will help the activity provider to apply for funding to cover the '''additional costs''' that may be required to allow your child to participate fully. Activity providers can usually offer a concessionary rate for families experiencing financial hardship, please discuss with them.

Some activities may have waiting lists, or due to high demand may have their own system for fair allocation of places. You can find out about short breaks activities on the Hampshire Gateway website Gateway card holders who tick ‘yes’ to receiving updates will receive regular holiday listings by e-mail or post.

Where is it located and what areas does it cover?

The activities are available throughout the whole of the Hampshire County Council area.

Short breaks activities on offer do vary by local area, according to need, demand and availability. We aim to support a range of activities for different ages, abilities and interests in each area. Details of activities can be found on the Hampshire Gateway website If you are interested in Short Breaks activities outside Hampshire, these will be found under the Local Offer pages for the relevant Local Authority area.

How are decisions made about who can use your service?

A Gateway Card will be issued to children described in question 3 above. For individual playschemes and activities, you will need to speak to the organiser of the club/activity. Some activities are aimed at children with a particular type of disability, for example deaf children. Further information about activity providers and what is on offer can be found on the website

How do you communicate with service users and how are they involved in decision making?

Activity providers are required to tell us how they will involve children, young people and their parents/ carers and gain their views when they apply for funding, and also include families’ views when they give monitoring feedback to the Short breaks team.

The overall Short breaks programme has a Project team with members from Childrens Services and other HCC staff, Hampshire Parent Carer Network and Parent Voice who work together on developing the scheme and ensuring it works for families.

Short Breaks information leaflets are available in Nepalese, Hindi, Arabic, Polish, Braille and other languages on request. Parent Voice workers can support families who need help in understanding what the short breaks programme offers.

The funding for playschemes and activities supported by Hampshire’s short breaks programme is recommended by grants panels, made up of Children’s Services and other Hampshire County Council staff, and parent representatives from Parent Voice and Hampshire Parent Carer Network. For funding of over £5,000, the Lead Member for Children’s Services in the council will decide at a formal decision day ( ).

Is your service fully accessible?

The venues for short breaks activities vary widely and include leisure centres, schools, and outdoors environments. For full information about the accessibility of these activities look at their individual entries on or speak to the activity organiser directly about how they could welcome your child.

Disabled Go is also a useful place to look with lots of detailed information about accessibility of Hampshire venues .

What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEN and Disabilities had or are having?

Activity providers vary widely in their training as they have different requirements placed on them. For example, swimming coaches will need swimming qualifications, and many specialist disability activity providers have been trained to support individual needs like epilepsy. The Short breaks programme has supported many providers via e-learning programmes, conferences and training courses on topics like disability awareness, autism, and inclusion. You can find out more about this support at:

Hampshire County Council Short Breaks Team requires all staff and volunteers at activities we fund to have a basic level of awareness in safeguarding children.

We can consider funding for general training or to support a specific child’s needs as part of a Grant application from an activity provider. Please talk to the activity provider directly about staff training to ensure your child’s needs can be met.

How will I know my child is safe?

We require all staff and volunteers at activities funded through Short Breaks to have a basic level of awareness in safeguarding children. In addition, all providers applying for Short Breaks funding are required to send a copy of their Safeguarding policy to Hampshire County Council. This applies to all providers, even if they are applying for a small amount of funding. In this policy we would expect to see, as a minimum, details of the training provided to staff, clear guidelines as to how to recognise potential neglect or abuse, how to report concerns and contact details for further support and advice. As a parent, you can ask to see a copy of the Safeguarding / Child Protection policy of any club or activity that any of your children attend.

The Short Breaks Project team hold a regular Activity providers forum for short breaks activity providers and we focused on safeguarding for one of these sessions. There is also e-learning available and other training courses through Hampshire County Council that activity providers can attend.

Who can I contact for further information?

Please talk to your short breaks activity provider if you want to discuss anything about your child/young person’s attendance at their club/activity. If you need some support to consider what short breaks activities might suit your family’s needs, you can contact the team from Parent Voice by calling 0300 303 8603 or visit Hampshire County Council have provided a grant to fund Parent Voice to provide this information service to families about a wide range of local activities.

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