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Cash boost for carers

PUBLISHED: 14:57 15 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:26 05 July 2010

Hundreds of families caring for disabled children across East Anglia will now be able to enjoy a well-earned break as part of a £370m government initiative.

Hundreds of families caring for disabled children across East Anglia will now be able to enjoy a well-earned break as part of a £370m government initiative.

Norfolk and Suffolk county councils are among 21 local authorities handed a slice of the cash as part of a joint three- year funding announcement from education and care services ministers Andrew Adonis and Ivan Lewis.

The two authorities will get about £7m each.

The investment means many more disabled children will be able to take part in new and valuable experiences away from their parents and carers, while those looking after them will have the chance to enjoy a well-earned break from caring.

Breaks will vary in length from just a few hours to a weekend or week, with disabled children and young people being cared for in their own home or given opportunities to access activities and places in the wider community.

Anna Gill, a parent representative on the Norfolk Disabled Children's Strategy Group, the umbrella body which helped put together the county's bid, said the money would bring respite to hundreds of families.

“These breaks are brilliant for the families and brilliant for the children because it's a wonderful opportunity for them,” she said. “This is going to make a very noticeable difference.”

Stuart Marpole, Norfolk County Council service manager for special and additional needs, said the announcement was a major achieve-ment for the council and its partners, including Norfolk Primary Care Trust and Yarmouth and Waveney PCT.

“It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and not a little imagination and enterprise by the staff of these organisations who work with disabled children,” he said. “The funding that will come to Norfolk over the next couple of years will enable us to develop and expand short breaks services to better support disabled children and their families.

“There are already good services in place but we need to increase the quantity of provision, where necessary improve the quality, and overall expand the range and choice of short breaks services available.”

Patricia O'Brien, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services at Suffolk County Council, said: “This funding will give the council a chance to offer more children and young people a break and an opportunity to have a go at different activities. As well as this, short breaks can give those who care for children with severe needs the opportunity of a well-earned rest.”

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