Thursday, 16 April 2009

Leeds family open their home to help disabled children

Picture caption - (l-r) Ben Cropper and his dog Gabby, Teresa and David Williams and Family Placement Services manager Kay Beach in the newly adapted bedroom.

(Reposted to include photo)

A Leeds couple have agreed to have their home adapted to help them look after disabled children for short breaks.

Teresa and David Williams of Oakwell Crescent Oakwood are one of a small group of professional short breaks carers in the city, and are the latest family who have agreed to have their home adapted so they can take physically disabled children.

Teresa and her family have experienced major building work and have been very patient whilst their home has been transformed. Their new home now has a ground floor bedroom with hoist and a purpose built wet room. The biggest issue has been how to adapt the house to allow level access, create space for the children to move freely around their bedroom, to the living areas and to be able to move out into the garden.

Josie, one of the young people the Williams look after, says:
“I like to see Teresa and David – we go to the football and have fun”

Teresa first became a professional carer with Leeds City Council’s family placement service in 2007. Prior to this she was a teacher at Benton Park School in Rawdon where she was instrumental in setting up a unit for autistic children. She said:
"We are really happy with the way the adaptations have worked out and are now looking forward to children coming to stay with us."

Family Placement short break service offers family linked care to disabled children in Leeds in the homes of 60 trained and approved Family Placement carers. The scheme exists to offer home from home care with lots of opportunities for disabled children to make new friends and have opportunities to undertake different activities. It also enables the children’s families and full time carers for time away from their caring role.

Councillor Stewart Golton, executive member with responsibility for Children’s Services said:“Carers - like the Williams - provide an invaluable and selfless service to the most vulnerable children of our city.

“It shows such a great dedication that they were happy to go through this disruption to make the lives of these children more comfortable and enjoyable.”

Family Placement currently has four other professional carers who have had their homes adapted; two families in Rothwell, one in Armley and one in Meanwood. The service also has a professional carer who offers short breaks to autistic children. Together the professional short breaks carers offer placement to about 50 Leeds children.

When a child is matched to a carer stays are arranged to fit the needs of the child and their family, as well as the link family. These stays are usually weekends but could be day care, week stays or occasionally longer. The children gain new experiences whilst their family have chance to recharge their batteries.

Projects such as this demonstrate Leeds City Council’s commitment to disabled children and meeting the government’s plans to make more short breaks services accessible to families under the Aiming High for Disabled Children legislation. (*See below for more detail) Funding from Aiming High will be used to purchase an adapted vehicle to enable Teresa and David to take their linked children out and about in Leeds.

If you are interested in becoming a carer, please call 0113 2478584 or go to to find out more.

Notes for editors:• Providing short breaks (beyond 2011) is to become a new legal duty – this received Royal Assent in November 2008. This legislation will enable us to ‘lock-in’ the improvements involved in Aiming High - ensuring that short break services are maintained at a high standard of provision beyond 2011

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council Press Office, on (0113) 2474713