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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Short breaks co-design

We’re pleased to share that following a pause in work to improve future short breaks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve now committed to start this work again.

Thank you for your patience and continued involvement in co-designing short breaks. If you have any questions, please get in touch sendlocaloffer@devon.gov.uk


We want disabled children and young people to be supported at home and in their local communities, to have opportunities to make and meet friends, feel confident, learn new skills and to thrive with a good family life.

Short breaks help do this by giving disabled children and young people the opportunity to experience fun activities and opportunities, which can also give parents and carers a short break from their caring role.

We want short breaks to give children and young people the best possible opportunities, so we will listen to children, young people, families and providers of short breaks to:

  • understand the support you get now, what’s working well and what could be better
  • think creatively about how to support families to have a good family life.

You can find out more about the Short Breaks project team here.

What we have done so far

In 2019 we organised workshops with the Parent Carer Forum Devon (PCFD) to find out what people think of short breaks for disabled children and young people in Devon.

We also spent time with parents and carers, worked with our short break provider services to gain the views of children and young people, and launched a survey to invite views from parents, carers, and professionals. All of this helped us understand what’s working well with short breaks, what we can do better, and what’s important for the future. Thanks to all of you – we really appreciate your time.

What you told us:

  • families want to spend quality time together – they would like to do things that are close to where they live, even if those activities are over the county border
  • families would also like us to be creative and flexible about the types of things they can do as a short break that will meet the wider family’s needs
  • children and young people would like to do more activities like sports, music, being outdoors, and have more chances to make friends
  • older children and young people would like to do things more appropriate to their age and interests
  • some disabled children and young people need more support, and some activities that are available to everyone do not currently meet their needs
  • there should be more activities that children with complex needs can enjoy
  • some parts of Devon are better served for things for children and young people to do than other parts
  • ‘enabling’ services and holiday clubs, which are really appreciated by families, can be difficult to find and often have waiting lists
  • families would like better choice of experienced providers who can offer opportunities for children and young people with more complex and challenging behaviours
  • families feel services can be too expensive
  • parents would like more self-help information and advice to support their children
  • it’s difficult for many families trying to juggle their lives, their relationships, interests, work etc alongside their caring roles
  • sometimes parents and carers feel isolated, even in their own communities
  • it’s sometimes difficult for siblings of disabled children and young people, whose parents perhaps spend less time with them – they might want to do ‘ordinary’ things like having a friend over for tea, but that might be really hard for lots of reasons
  • many families do not have any contingency or crisis plan to fall back on in case it is needed

This feedback has given us food for thought, and it will certainly help us shape opportunities that will better meet the needs of children and young people, and their families in the future.

Next steps

We want to find out if your views have changed, particularly as a result of coronavirus, and we want to reach out to even more people to make sure we’re listening to voices from across the county. We will be having more conversations with parents and carers, professionals and children and young people to make sure we’ve heard you right and to start planning what we can do better.

Based on what you’ve told us, we’ll make recommendations and start taking actions to improve future short breaks. There will be some improvements we can make quickly, and some that will take a little longer, but we’ll share our progress regularly so you can check that we’ve got it right at step along the way.

Get involved

We want to make sure short breaks really work for children, young people and families in Devon and we can’t do that without you. Your views, comments and thoughts are really important in making sure we get this right.

If you would like to be involved in co-designing short breaks, please get in touch via sendlocaloffer@devon.gov.uk

You can also visit our Facebook Page or find us on Twitter to find out more about the project and other work we’re doing in Devon.


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