Surrey Short Breaks for Disabled Children

What are Short Breaks?

Short Breaks offer a range of creative, flexible, fun play and leisure activities in local communities for children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities (AN and D). The purpose of Short Breaks is to:

  • Develop the skills, confidence, independence and readiness for adulthood of children and young people (CYP) with AN&D and enable them to have fun and make friends
  • Improve their emotional and physical health, as well as their ability to communicate their feelings and preferences and their social skills, both through their relationships with other children and through developing supportive and trusting relationships with adults – thereby also supporting positive behaviour.
  • Support positive outcomes for parents, by providing parents and carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities, so they are empowered to look after their own emotional and physical health and wellbeing and provide better and more sustainable care to other family members.
  • Support positive outcomes for whole families, including greater family cohesion and improved relationships.

Below is some summary information about the Play and Leisure Short Breaks services available from 1 April 2023 and we are in the process of commissioning further services, so more information will be added shortly. Information about Short Breaks and other community activities for children and young people with disabilities is also available on the Local Offer directory.

Provider: Challengers
Delivery areas: Guildford, Waverley
Primary needs supported: All additional needs and disabilities including complex needs
More information: Disability Challengers play
Disability Challengers youth

Provider: LinkAble
Delivery areas: Woking
Primary needs supported: All additional needs and disabilities including complex needs, Autism
More information: LinkAble

Provider: Rainbow Trust
Delivery areas: Surrey wide
Primary needs supported: Complex health needs
More information: Rainbow Trust South East team

Provider: White Lodge
Delivery areas: Elmbridge, Runnymede
Primary needs supported: All additional needs and disabilities including complex needs, Autism, Complex health needs
More information: White Lodge Centre play and youth clubs

Provider: YMCA East Surrey
Delivery areas: Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Tandridge
Primary needs supported: All additional needs and disabilities including complex needs, Autism
More information: YMCA East Surrey disability activities

Provider: National Autistic Society (NAS)
Delivery area: Waverley
Primary needs supported: Autism
More information: NAS Surrey clubs for children

Provider: Sight for Surrey
Delivery areas: Surrey wide activities
Primary needs supported: Visual impairment
More information: Sight for Surrey

Provider: Wheels for All (cycling activities for all abilities)
Delivery areas: Epsom, Leatherhead, Woking and occasional events in other areas
Primary needs supported: All
More information: Wheels for All Epsom, Wheels for All Leatherhead and Wheels for All Woking

Please note that families from across Surrey can access services in any area of Surrey – the delivery areas above are where services are based.

If you have any questions about Short Breaks, or about the information in this statement, you can email the Children, Families and Lifelong Learning Commissioning Team.

If you require other services, such as Direct Payments, Overnight Short Breaks or residential care, these are subject to assessment. Your child's social worker, if they have one, can advise further. For more details about these services and the assessment process, please visit the Children's Services section of the Local Offer website.

Surrey Short Breaks Statement

Each local authority must publish a statement about Short Breaks services in their area, so that families with disabled children need clear information to access services. The statement must be kept under review, and it should be revised when new services become available, or when there are changes to existing services.

The Surrey Short Breaks statement for 2023 relates to the new Short Breaks service in place from 1 April 2023.

Additional Short Breaks provision in Surrey now confirmed for the coming year


In addition to the information above about Short Breaks services in place from April 2023, we are able to share some positive news about the volumes of provision available and about some new services, following a successful funding bid to the Department for Education (DfE), which has secured an additional £900k of funding for Short Breaks in Surrey in 2023/24. This follows on from the statement we published in December 2022.

Our current contracts for these services ended in March 2023, so we were legally required to recommission them so that services can continue. The new services commenced on 1 April and we have been supporting providers in planning their services. Families already receiving services will most likely have received information from providers about this.

We stated in December that Surrey County Council would maintain the budget at the same level as 2022/23 and allocate enough funding to maintain current capacity of overnight respite services, so we would be able to fund two-thirds of the current capacity in community-based play and youth schemes for children with disabilities.

However, since then Surrey County Council has been successful in securing a grant from the Department for Education's Short Breaks Innovation Fund for the 2023/24 financial year. This has enabled us to significantly increase and develop our Short Breaks provision for the coming year. In particular, we have been able to commission new community-based Play & Leisure provision, specifically to support children and young people with more complex needs who require 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 support to access services.

The funding from the DfE will also enable us to pilot a high volume of new Family Breaks for children and young people with complex needs, and their families, and offer additional overnight respite provision specifically for children and young people with complex needs whose families are at risk of breakdown or crisis.

We have been working with providers on their delivery plans for the new services and changes may not be seen immediately. The DfE funding is initially for one year, to 31 March 2024, and we are not able to determine at this stage the budget for these services after that date, or confirm the volume of provision that will be available. We are committed to seeking continuation funding from the DfE and to exploring other avenues for funding, and options for maximising the budget available to Short Breaks, within ongoing budget pressures.

To access information about the Short Breaks services available, please visit the Local Offer directory or follow the links below to information about community-based Play & Leisure services available from 1 April.

Additional Information

High-quality Short Breaks Services make a real difference to the lives of children and young people with disabilities and their families in Surrey. They provide children and young people with positive experience s where they can make friends, increase their confidence and improve their emotional and physical health. They also give parents and carers a break from their caring responsibilities to support their own wellbeing and spend time with other family members, and support positive outcomes for whole families.

Whenever new contracts are issued for services, there is an opportunity for learning and improvement and we have engaged with families, providers and partners to help us focus on the things that are most important. Despite this, we appreciate that any period of change will cause uncertainty for some families.

We have maintained the Surrey County Council budget at the same level as 2022 to 2023 for these important services, at a time of real challenge for public finances, when we are all facing increased costs. We also have a statutory duty to deliver a balanced budget and this means we have not been able to increase the budget for Short Breaks services for these new contracts.

However, the additional funding from the Department for Education's Short Breaks Innovation Fund means we are able to increase the volume of community-based Play & Leisure provision available in the 2023/24 financial year, through a new, dedicated Play & Leisure provision for children and young people with complex needs. deliver a high volume of pilots of new Family Breaks for children and young people with complex needs, and their families, and make a small increase in our overnight respite capacity (specifically to support families at risk of crisis), which we had already committed to maintaining at current levels, so that we fulfil statutory commitments in children's care plans.

We recognise that Short Breaks are in high demand and we have taken steps to maximise the effectiveness of the funding and the services available, for example:

  • allocating a share of the funding available to each of the providers currently funded by SCC to deliver play and leisure Short Breaks in Surrey and who have bid for ongoing funding - providing continuity and minimising change for many families;
  • placing a stronger focus on supporting children with more complex additional needs and disabilities, and their families, who are more likely to require specialist support;
  • recognising that Short Breaks form part of a diverse range of services and support for children with disabilities and their families in Surrey – both those provided and commissioned by Surrey County Council and other services in the community – and working with colleagues and providers to ensure the best information possible is available through the Surrey Local Offer and other channels;
  • working with our provider partners and others to make the best of the funding that is available;
  • encouraging collaboration with and between providers to promote access to services for families across the county, whilst we also look to bring other funding into Surrey in the future; and
  • working with providers as they plan services, and with Family Voice Surrey (FVS), to ensure clear, detailed information is made available to families as soon as possible about the services available.

Going forward, we will work with providers, partners and families as we seek to continuously evaluate and improve the new Short Breaks service, so that it delivers the best possible outcomes for children, young people and families. Areas we already plan to explore include reach and performance, access to and eligibility for Short Breaks, identifying and responding to complex needs, and supporting effective transitions to adulthood and adult services.

In summary, the elements of the new service are as follows:

  • Overnight respite provision to support needs for these services identified in care plans.
  • Play and leisure activities for children and young people aged 5 to 18 across Surrey – this will include specific services for children and young people with autism, with complex health needs or with visual impairment, as well as new, dedicated services for those with more complex needs who require 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 support to access services.
  • Proposed targeted pilots of new Family Breaks for children and young people with complex needs, and their families, in the holidays and at weekends.
  • A small number of other services and activities supported through SCC's own Short Breaks Innovation Fund.

Surrey Children's Disability Register (SCDR)

The SCDR is a voluntary register for children and young people with a disability or impairment, aged 0-18 years and living in Surrey. The register helps us plan and monitor services and also operates as a contact list to provide regular information and consultation about short break opportunities, funded by Surrey County Council, through the Surrey Short Breaks for Disabled Children Team.

Max Card

This is a free discount card administered by local authorities which gives foster families and families of children with additional needs access to various activities around the country at a discounted rate. The scheme is designed to help families save money on great days out, including zoos, bowling alleys, theme parks and many more. Families of children with additional needs can obtain a Max Card by registering on the Surrey Children's Disability Register (SCDR online registration form). Once registered, families will receive the Max Card in the post.

More details on the Max Card scheme, including full details of where the Max Card can be used can be found on the Max Card website.

Parent Carer break grant

These payments can be made to support parent carers who have a disabled child under 18 living in Surrey who are not currently receiving services from Surrey County Council children's services or have a social worker.

Parents cannot apply directly themselves, but anyone working with a family can apply on your behalf - such as the local carers support workers, Action for Carers Surrey team, or any professional working with you and your child for example teachers and Home School Link workers, nurses and health visitors, Children's Centre managers, Early Years Support co-ordinators.

A completed Early Help Assessment or Carers Support assessment is required in order to access this grant.

Parent Carer break grants can be used as flexibly as possible to allow parent/carers to identify what best may support them. Examples of previous grants have been used by families to fund or contribute to family holidays, short breaks for parents, training courses for parents, including driving lessons, contributions towards play activities, days out, and in some cases, equipment to help you as a parent carer.

The payment is up to the value of £300 per annum.

For more information, contact the Surrey short breaks team:

Family Voice Surrey - A parents' forum

Family Voice Surrey is a forum for parents of children with disabilities and SEN to come together to get their voice heard and influence the development of services for their children. The committee meet regularly to discuss issues of concern and to feed this into ongoing discussions with those who provide services in Surrey to children with disabilities such as Surrey County Council, NHS Surrey and voluntary organisations. For more information:

The committee is always interested in hearing from parents that would like to get involved. Please call to find out future committee meeting dates.

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