Battle to save a Brentwood disabled children’s care service

Richard Harding with his son Ben.

Richard Harding with his son Ben. - Credit: Archant

A Brentwood respite care service for children with disabilities is at risk of closure unless it can raise £10,000 a year.

Every week the service, run by Crossroads Care at Endeavour School, Hogarth Avenue, takes in youngsters aged five to 19 with severe conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or physical or mental disabilities and offers days out and activities.

But since the withdrawal last year of a £36,000 grant from Essex County Council which was used to fund outings and learning activities, the group has been struggling to cover its costs.

Despite funding from Children in Need and the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, the group has been forced to cancel its summer holiday programme this year.

Organisers say they have asked some parents for a small contribution and are funding the rest from reserves to keep the club going. But to survive the year ahead they need £10,000.

Paul Barrell, a trustee of the charity, is seeking help from businesses and community groups.

He said: “The difference a club like this makes to people’s lives is just amazing.”

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Paul said the sessions gave children a chance to learn in a social environment and allowed parents to take up a part-time job or spend quality time with their other children and partners.

He said: “We’ve tried everything to keep it going, and now it’s the last chance saloon.”

Parents said the group was a “vital service” giving children interaction with others who have similar conditions.

Richard Harding, whose autistic six-year- old son Ben attends the care sessions, said: “I don’t know of any other service like this in Brentwood and it will be such a shame to lose it.”

Richard, of London Road, added: “It is fantastic for Ben, as he gets to spend time with the group, and I can have time to do things I need to do around the house or feed Isobel, [aged four] who I cannot give as much time to usually.”

To discuss fundraising with Crossroads Care, call 01277 201789.