Call for support

A FORFAR mother has called on the local authority to give more support to families with disabled children, especially during the summer holidays.

Lisa Clark is asking Angus Council to do more to provide respite care for disabled children to give their parents some much needed time and help.

She said: “I have a four year old son who is undiagnosed but is high on the scale for special needs and it is a constant stuggle, especially as I am a single parent of three - my eldest has ADHD and I also have a two-year-old.

“We have to constantly fight for help from the social work department.

“There is the Strathmore Centre here in Forfar which is supposed to support the whole of Angus but they don’t do anything until a child is five-years-old although they are now supposed to.

“The service is very slow moving and I did not get any help at all until my son was three-and-a-half. We had to go to another town to go to nursery and I had to quit university.”

Among Ms Clark’s main concerns is the lack of respite care available during the summer holidays. While there used to be adequate provision and support the amount has dwindled due to a lack of funding.

She said: “In the summer there is the Holiday Project which is run by Angus Council but they are losing funding at the moment.

“In the past all the children used to go by bus through to Arbroath but they would travel massive differences and they were spending more time on the bus than playing.

“Now there is a week in Forfar, a week in Montrose and a week in Arbroath with no bus running so you can only go to the week which is in your town.

“It runs for three days for two hours each day which is only six hours respite overall in the whole holiday.

“I spoke to the manager at the Strathmore Centre and was told that six hours of the playscheme was enough.”

Although there is still organised care, Ms Clark says that there is little in the way of individual care and what is available must be fought hard for.

“I am getting some help next week but I did have to fight for it, I had to argue and have a lot of meetings to push to get any help at all. It’s a lengthy process, you have to speak to all the bosses and make umpteen phone calls.

“So I am getting two, two-hour sessions and was told I am only getting those because the childminder that looks after my younger daughter is on holiday.”

“I feel pretty clued up now that I have been there for five years but there will be those who do not know how to get the support.

“We shouldn’t have to fight to get the support and there is so much pressure put on families who have children with disabilities.

She added: “My son will be going to school after the holiday’s but despite it being just three weeks away I have not yet been told where he is going.

“I was originally told that he would be going to Langlands but I don’t think they can cope with him so he could go to King’s Park in Dundee.”

“Even then there is no respite, the average child has after school clubs, childminding and playschemes every day but there is nothing there for the disabled.

“Parents should be more supported.”

A spokeswoman for Angus Council said: “In Angus, we have increased the level of respite care provision for children in need over the past three years.

“We are unable to discuss individual people or their situations. The level of any respite care for an individual is identified following an assessment of their needs.

“If anyone if unhappy with their assessment of need or the level of service provided they should discuss the situation with their social worker or with the manager of the care facility in the first instance.”