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Case Studies

Aiming High for Disabled Children - YOURS Short Breaks Programme

The Consortium undertook research into the ability of Consortium members to provide a range of high quality short breaks for disabled children and young people in 2009 to design this provision. This was an important piece of partnership working, looking at how services could be delivered in a different way.

Consortium members provided information about the opportunities they could provide, the qualifications and experience of their staff and the accessibility of their organisation. This information was shared with young people, parents and commissioners using the new Consortium Single Point of Access.

It is hoped that many disabled young people who have not before been able to access these services will now be able to choose a placement that meets their support needs from a range of suitable options.

Setting and context
The Rotherham Voluntary Sector Children, Young People and Families Consortium is a group of voluntary sector organisations who provide services for children, young people and families in Rotherham. The Consortium's mission is to improve outcomes for children, young people and families in Rotherham by supporting its members to be full and effective partners in the development and delivery of local services.

Over 13,500 children and young people across Rotherham were supported by these organisations in 2005. They employ over 300 staff with an equal number of volunteers. They are diverse in size, focus and service user groups. Membership of the Consortium is open to any Voluntary Sector Organisation that is, or may be, contracted to provide services to Children, young people and their families in Rotherham.

Independent Local Solutions (ILS) is a Community Interest Company trading on behalf of the Rotherham Children, Young People and Families’ Voluntary Sector Consortium.  ILS was set up by the Consortium and registered with Companies House on 14th May 2008.The purpose of ILS is to win contracts for different combinations of Consortium members, working collaboratively to produce innovative and cost effective services.  ILS manages the contracts on behalf of the Consortium members, enabling them to focus on what they do best – delivering excellent services.   ILS also offers the Commissioners an easy way to access the wide range of skills and services within the Consortium, opening the door to larger scale contracts and reduced

The initiative
In 2009, ILS successfully participated in a Governance Review, strengthening the ILS Board, to draw down investment funding from Futurebuilders England.  Subsequently, ILS has successfully delivered its first contracts, the DCSF Play Volunteer Project in Eastwood, and an ESF funded NEETs project.

ILS most significant contract to date is to deliver activities for disabled children and young people in the Rotherham, through the Aiming High for Disabled Children  (ADHC) Programme.  ILS is working with a range of service providers from the Children, Young People and Families’ Voluntary Sector Consortium to deliver an exciting package of quality activities.   Many of the Consortium partners had gained valuable experience delivering activities for disabled children and young people through an AHDC pilot project, and this experience helped ILS to utilise the input from the disabled children and young people to inform the design of our programme.

The six local services that deliver the AHDC activities are: YMCA White Rose, Activate, Open Minds Theatre Company, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust and the United Multi-Cultural Centre. A door to door transport service is offered through Rotherham Community Transport. Together the 6 services are known as ‘The Yours Project’.  They provide year round short breaks, evenings and over the school holidays, for children from 2 to 19 years.
On offer is a wide variety of fun, exciting and challenging activities throughout the week at various locations around Rotherham. Activities include indoor rock climbing, sports, arts and crafts, music, dance and many more.

There are also dedicated services for children under 8yrs of age. YMCA White Rose offer a weekly session with qualified and experienced play workers.
Rotherham United Community Sports Trust offer sports and multi skills sessions throughout the week and also opportunities to watch the Millers play at the New York stadium.

Project details (provided by the Yours Project Partnership Programme Manager )
Open Minds Theatre Company deliver specific music, dance and drama sessions, with YMCA White Rose, Activate and UMCC delivering after school clubs and youth clubs.

A key element to the project is being able to offer a door to door transport service with Rotherham Community Transport. We collect the children from school or home, take them to the activity venue and then take them home at the end of the session. All journeys have an escort present and the mini buses are fully equipped for all children and young people.

We can offer taster sessions at all of the activities and parents and carers are more than welcome to come and get to know the staff, have a look around the venue first and stay with their child until they feel confident to attend independently.
When we receive a referral we always telephone the parent, (usually the mother) and basically say "hi". We explain who we are and more about the service we can offer. It is important to speak to the parents rather than an email or letter because it gives a more personal touch and you can lessen some of the fears and worries straight away just from a conversation where the parent can feel listened to and that they are not on their own.

We then arrange a home visit at a time that is convenient for the family. We have been known to visit at 8pm at night when the kids are in bed and mum has half an hour to herself! It is whatever will help the family - we are here to reduce the stress not make it worse by asking them to fit around our schedules.

The home visit has two purposes, one, to fill all the paperwork in so that we can keep the child safe on activities etc, but often, more importantly it is to start the relationship between the family and our service. They can put a face to a name when they need to call the office, we are there to listen, they are the experts in their children and we are here to offer a short break for both the parents and the children involved. We are paid to be support workers for children with disabilities but we often wear many different hats when we visit families; social workers, family support workers, advocates, counsellors, a friend and someone who understands what the family is experiencing without passing judgement.

We are there to put them at ease and to build the trust. It is hard for a parent to let their child who might only be 2yrs old to be picked up on a mini bus and be taken to a centre without their parents. We always offer for the parents to attend with their child for as many sessions as they feel comfortable with and feel assured that their child is safe and will enjoy themselves.

A very recent example is a family who have a 2yr old son with an autistic spectrum condition. The family has other issues which impact on the daily family life and have not really engaged with many services until now. I received the referral from the Disabled Children's Family Support service. We were made aware of certain issues and that a female worker would have to undertake the visit. This wasn't a problem for us as I picked up the visit and took a second female colleague with me.

The family live in one of the poorer areas of Rotherham and hadn't directly asked for this service. When I first got there mum and dad did not want the service for their child and thought it was being put on them. They said they did not need any help. I explained the service, what we could offer, talked about the staff and our experiences of children and our training and qualifications and the type of activities that we run. It took a while, but mum began to relax and ask a few questions and really engaged in the conversation. I could tell she had turned a corner and was interested in the activities and could see how it would benefit her son.

She was worried that her son would be without her and what would happen if he "created", but wanted him to socialise with other children his age with similar abilities as the provision in her immediate area was limited.  The visit lasted about an hour and a half and by the end the parents were both happy to sign their son up to the service and were going to come to the centre where the activities are held to have a look around beforehand.

We have over 70 families on our books who access the under  8's activities. The demand is extremely difficult to supply in this area as there is only the YMCA who currently offer activities for this age range. The families that do engage with us are really supportive and appreciative of the service as often they have older children in the family that do not have a disability and when the disabled child is in our care they can spend more time with their other children.


Hannah Mounsey
ILS (YOURS Project) Partnership Programme Manager, YMCA White Rose
Tel: 01709 830154; e-mail:

Jackie Parkin, Rotherham:

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