AN overnight care service that provides respite for disabled youngsters has reopened with reduced services – but a mum-of-two believes this is still ‘not enough’ for families who need urgent care.
Sophia Tattersall, of Church Street in Gawber, has launched a public campaign to get disability services reopened to full capacity after students across the borough returned to their classrooms.
Sophia is the primary carer of her two sons Xander, 13, and Max, 11, who both have disabilities.
Max visits Newsome Avenue, in Wombwell, for respite and the overnight care service announced it would reopen but at a reduced level for the foreseeable future.
Max who has epilepsy, homocystinuria, hypomyelination, ADHD and is partially-sighted, has struggled to adapt to self-isolation, becoming distressed with the lack of communication and development he’s received.
Xander also has homocystinuria, is partially-sighted and has a rare genetic condition that can cause behavioural and developmental issues as well as heart and skeletal disorders.
Sophia feels the families of those living with disabled young people have been ‘left in the dark’ on the reopening of disability services.
She said: “Schools have reopened and the world is slowly moving on but for disabled children who were abandoned during the pandemic and their parents, this continues.
“Our local short respite break unit, Newsome Avenue, has reduced services despite schools in the same area returning.
“This isn’t the home’s fault, they’ve gone above and beyond to get respite services open but had no word from the government.
“Our most vulnerable in society have been abandoned and we the parents are being forced to beg for scraps of information as to when this short respite break service will resume by emailing council leaders.
“My son Max is in receipt of continuing healthcare which means his needs are severe.
“He’s usually entitled to one night of respite a week, but now it’s one every three weeks.”
Sophia has launched an online appeal for more guidance and support from the government to those living with disabilities in lockdown.
“It was incredibly difficult for us during lockdown,” she added. “Max was acting out and becoming violent and a lot of the time we felt alone.
“Luckily, Max has gone back to school at Greenacre School and this has significantly improved his behaviour and spirits."
The council has said that until social distancing measures are eased, it won’t be possible to return to normal working practices in the immediate future.
Coun Margaret Bruff, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services, said: “We appreciate that recent months have been tough for everyone and especially for the families linked to Newsome Avenue.
“Many children won’t have understood the restrictions imposed and will have missed contact with friends and the outside world, placing a significant responsibility on their immediate family to keep them safe and entertained.
“We thank all of the parents and carers for their continued understanding of the need to keep the building closed to avoid increased infection in these difficult times, and we acknowledge what that closure will have meant for them as families.
“As guidance relaxes, we will continue to review our offer and seek to increase the overnight respite numbers when it is safe to do so.
“The safety of children and staff is our priority at all times.”