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29 December 2022
Illustration of a family with a guide dog walking along a beach

In 2021 the Council, published its Short Breaks Commissioning Strategy, which was developed through a series of engagement activities with parent carers. We conducted an extensive survey, spoke directly with parents in one-to-one conversations and in focus groups. 

Families told us that the Short Breaks Community Clubs and Activities offer could be improved by making it more locally accessible, age appropriate and to offer an improved range of choice. Families said that transition planning should be better and there should be more and better access to clubs and activities in mainstream settings. It was also noted there should be a focus towards specific disability types like physical and sensory impairments as well as learning disabilities and autism.

The current contracts for Short Breaks Community Clubs and Activities end on the 31st of March 2023. Over summer and autumn 2022 we undertook an application process for providers to apply to deliver Short Breaks Community Clubs and Activities from April 2023. Providers were asked to demonstrate in their application how they would respond to the improvements identified by families.

We received 30 applications with some providers applying to deliver in multiple areas. We invited families to take part in scoring videos the applicants had provided, and Essex Family Forum were represented on the full evaluation panel too. We are grateful to the 24 parent carers that took part and shared their views – thank you! The evaluation has now finished, and we are excited to share who will be delivering the new offer from April 2023.

North and Mid Essex

SEND sensation is a partnership of eight Essex-based voluntary, community and social enterprises that promote a level playing field and positive experiences for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The partnership includes:

  • Abberton Rural Training
  • Butterflies Clubs
  • Diddi Dance
  • Disability 4 Sport
  • Happy Hill
  • Independence Project
  • InterAct Chelmsford
  • Mistley Kids Club

The partnership has come together to deliver venue-based clubs with specialist staff and facilities to support children and young people with SEND together with community and mainstream venues that promote an inclusive message and staff that will adapt to make everyone welcome.

South Essex

Butterflies Clubs will be expanding across South Essex to deliver a full-service range of after school, weekends and school holiday activity sessions in a wide range of settings, including:

  • Caterpillars Club for 0-5 years
  • Flutter Club for 5-8 years
  • Play and Explore sessions for children and young people that prefer smaller groups
  • Butterflies Club for 8-14 years
  • Soaring Club for 15-19 years

After school transport will be available from The Endeavour Co-Operative Academy, Cedar Hall School and Castledon School. Children and young people will have a personalised activity plan that meets their needs, level of independence and that ensures they are with peers they are familiar with.

West Essex

Epping Forest District Council will be leading the offer across West Essex working collaboratively with Harlow and Uttlesford District Councils to expand the range of after school, weekend and holiday activities to children and young people and setting up opportunities for whole family social trips and events. Epping Forest District Council will also be collaborating with mainstream providers to offer SEND specific sessions or help them become more inclusive through advice and training.  

What's next?

We know that many families will be excited to hear the news, but for some who may currently be accessing a club or activity where the provider did not apply or was unsuccessful in applying, we recognise you may be worried about transitioning to the new offer.  We want to reassure everyone that part of the application was how providers would manage the transition of children to the new offer as smoothly as possible and further details about this will follow in the New Year.

Over the coming three months, we will be working closely with the current and new providers to finalise contracts and ensure the new offer is well promoted and families are prepared for the new offer starting in April 2023.

This includes working with Provide, who deliver specialist healthcare training for staff, to ensure children with healthcare needs are able to access clubs and activities. We will also share regular communications and updates.

In addition to the new offer, we will be launching an annual inclusion fund in the New Year, that will seek to improve access to clubs and activities in mainstream settings. We will be encouraging a wide range of clubs and activities providers to improve training, equipment and facilities through the fund, in an effort to ensure children and young people with SEND are able to take part in inclusive activities in venues that suit them.

Useful Information

Your child or young person will need to be registered to receive Short Breaks to access the new Short Breaks Community Clubs and Activities offer.

If you would like to receive regular updates on the new offer, please follow us on Facebook or check our website for news updates. If you are registered with Short Breaks and have a passport id number, you will also receive updates via email.

We hope that the new clubs and activities offer will deliver the improvements that families identified and will be sharing more detailed information in the New Year. Please do feel free to email any comments over to shortbreaks@essex.gov.uk