Photo from the cooking session at Belmont School After school club

Changing the narrative

The terms ‘Short Breaks’ and ‘respite care’ are often used differently by children’s and adult social care services. However, both are used to describe social care services providing specialist care and support to families of disabled children and adults.

Research conducted by Barnwood Trust in 2022 showed that families in Gloucestershire needed support to access the activities they wanted. From these findings we co-designed a funding opportunity with a group of parent carers, young people and people with experience of accessing Short Breaks.

Belmont School is one of the organisations given one- year funding for their Short Break activities.

Changing the narrative – how Monty’s is re-shaping short breaks

Children involved in actitivites

Children painting Photo from the cooking session








One of the great things about being involved with Barnwood Trust is how many deeply committed people you meet. Very often, people who re-shape the way you think.

Whether you choose to call it Short Breaks or respite, the concept of having time and space to oneself reaches beyond the world of adult carers.

Mariella* is at Monty’s after-school club every week. It’s held at Belmont School, run by Belmont staff, attended by her Belmont friends, and currently funded by Barnwood Trust. And it’s her haven.

Because at home, Mariella, at 12 years old, is a Young Carer for her disabled mum. In the family mix is also her brother, who has ASD. And of course, she has her own learning difficulties to manage.

‘Monty’s is her time to get away from all of the worries she has at home’, explained mum. ‘She can be herself, and spend time with her friends – time that she wouldn’t otherwise get.’

Jo*, at 14, has Global Development Delay and sensory difficulties, and is also an enthusiastic attendee at Monty’s. Mum would be the first to admit that Jo’s world is ‘very small’ due to mum’s own high levels of anxiety.

‘Jo only really gets to go out when I’m in a good place – her whole social life revolves around me’, mum explains. ‘At Monty’s, Jo gets to have fun and take part in new activities, but the social interaction is the most important thing, absolutely.’

Significantly, transport home after a club meeting has had the most impact, and Belmont’s successful application for accessibility funding to cover the costs of taxis, has made all the difference.

‘The only way to collect Jo from Monty’s would be to get the bus to school and back home again,’ says mum. ‘But public transport is a trigger for me, and if I’m not in a good place, it would mean Jo would be unable to attend. She would have to come straight home after school.’

Likewise for Mariella, says mum: ‘the transport is the difference between her being able to attend, and not. We have a vehicle, but with my disability and son’s challenges, it’s not easy to stick to a timetable. Monty’s transport makes the impossible possible’.

Jo and Mariella are among 18 young people at Belmont for whom Monty’s is their own time and space. Short Break funding has created an environment where we can enourage child-led activities, taking time to recognise and understand their choices, and deliver.

That delivery is fulfilled by partner agencies such as ArtSpace and Allsorts, who have become an integral part of the Monty’s team each week, getting to know the students and their preferences. Alongside Belmont staff, they listen, review, and adapt to make the children’s experiences relevant and meaningful. Through this route, too, they are opening doors to new opportunities that the children might not otherwise encounter.

Fin* came home absolutely inspired by the film making session that ArtSpace ran at Monty’s, recalls his grandmother and carer. ‘This was something I would never have been able to make happen for him, and it probably would never have crossed the minds of either of us. But through Monty’s he has discovered an interest – perhaps even a future career – that could be transformational’.

For Mariela, that same passion lies in the Monty’s cookery sessions. ‘We used to do a lot of baking together before my disability worsened’, explained mum. ‘Now she comes home buzzing about what she’s made at Monty’s, and how she can replicate and share that experience at home.’

With Short Break funding, Monty’s has been able to encapsulate the conceptual ‘ideal’ – fulfilling choices, creating opportunities, developing social networks, and providing time and space. Accessibility funding has turned the concept into a reality.

Written by Belmont School

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