A county council service providing fun activities to disabled children across West Sussex has been rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Fun and Breaks (FAB) volunteers spend a couple of hours a week with a child, taking them out to an activity such as swimming or the park or having fun together at home, whilst giving their families a rest.
In so doing, children and young people are actively and positively encouraged and supported to engage in everyday activities and hobbies.
Following an inspection in June, the CQC has rated FAB ‘outstanding’ for effectiveness and leadership and ‘good’ for safety, caring and responsiveness, with an overall rating of ‘outstanding’.
Published this autumn, the report said: ‘Wonderful relationships are being fostered between volunteers and families.”
In the report, families described how the support they receive benefits their whole family and enables their child to have ‘new opportunities’, ‘be more independent’, ‘be more confident’ and ‘develop social skills’.
According to a West Sussex County Council (WSCC) spokesperson, the children and young people involved were ‘very positive’ about the volunteers and the relationships they developed with them, describing them as their friends.
Social care professionals were also complimentary about FAB’s outstanding service to families at times of significant challenges in their lives, saying the volunteers had made a real difference to children, young people and their families.
Doreen Bradbury, registered manager for the service, said: “We are delighted to have received an outstanding rating; it is a wonderful acknowledgement of all our volunteers do, so willingly, to enrich the lives of children in West Sussex.
“We would love to hear from anyone who feels they could make a difference to a family who have a disabled child. We ensure checks are made, provide training, carefully match each volunteer with a family local to them and provide ongoing support.”
Paul Marshall, WSCC cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is fantastic recognition for everyone involved in our outstanding Fun and Breaks service. I hope this encourages others to volunteer.”
To find out more about volunteering, see www.westsussex.gov.uk/fab or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A priceless two hours’ help
The West Sussex County Council (WSCC) Fun and Breaks (FAB) initiative connects people who would like to provide a helping pair of hands with families of all backgrounds across the county.
Volunteer Beverley Seymour supports Chloe Quail, her mum Sharon and the rest of the family for a couple of hours every week.
A retired teacher with a particular interest in pastoral care, Beverley moved to the Chichester area three years ago.
She said: “I always knew I’d look for some sort of volunteering; I saw the advert in [WSCC publication] ‘Connections’ for FAB and it really appealed to me. I contacted Doreen who runs FAB and chatted about what it entailed and it was obvious it was something I was interested in. Having been a secondary school teacher, I liked the idea of working with a younger child and Chloe and her mum Sharon were looking for somebody to support the family.
“It was fun from the very first time I met the family. I class Sharon now as a friend, she is a fantastic mum and I’m very comfortable in the family. I love the children - I get as much out of it as they get out of it.”
Beverley said anyone with a spare couple of hours in the week should contact FAB and find out more: “There’s a vast array of experiences in terms of young people and families that so desperately could do with just a bit of extra support.
“It’s not officious or prescriptive, you can work to suit yourselves and they are such a supportive organisation. An extra pair of hands just for a couple of hours is great, whether you have child with special needs or not. I love it!”
Sharon said Beverley helps her organise her life around her visits in order to incorporate homework and other support for her older children.
She said: “Beverley gives me two hours of her time for free - she’s such a kind person and a really good friend to the family. I don’t know what we’d do without her and I trust her implicitly with the children.”
Sharon did not know about FAB until she was referred: “It needs to be more publicised that it’s around. And there’s more to FAB than just volunteers - there are regular emails to talk about events around the county.
“When the time comes, I’d like to pay it forward - it’s an amazing thing they do.”