New day centre aims to be lifeline for young people

(l-r) Connor Whapshott (18) with his mum Kerry Whapshott and Anita Usai. ''Kerry and Anita have opened a day care facility for disabled children at Stone Croft House, Havant.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123544-321)
(l-r) Connor Whapshott (18) with his mum Kerry Whapshott and Anita Usai. ''Kerry and Anita have opened a day care facility for disabled children at Stone Croft House, Havant.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123544-321)

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FRIENDS have set up a day care centre for young people with complex learning disabilities who have left education.

After years of planning Anita Usai and Kerry Whapshott have leased Stonecroft House, in Leigh Road, Havant.

There, they will be providing educational and fun opportunities for people aged 18 to 40 with medical, physical or behavioural needs.

Their motto is: ‘It’s not what you can’t do – it’s what you can’.

And they have named themselves Chaos, which stands for Choice, Health, Aspiration, Opportunity and Support.

At the moment the organisation is run as a business but it is hoped it will gain charity status in December, when it opens.

Mrs Usai’s daughter Sophie sadly died in March. Her twin sister Alexandra died in 2007. Now Mrs Usai sees Chaos as their legacy.

She said: ‘When young people reach 18 everything stops.

‘Until then they receive comprehensive services and support, including health, social care and education. After that it’s fragmented.

‘Most of our youngsters have to travel long distances for respite care and day provision, if they can get a place at all.’

Without suitable provision for young people Mrs Usai believes it can lead to the breakdown of families. She said parents have broken down in tears of relief when told of their plans.

‘Parents are frightened,’ she said. ‘If there is no provision one or two members of the family have to give up work to look after the children and it drives the family into crisis and poverty.’

Chaos has a life skills room where users learn cookery and basic household skills, an education room, a cinema club, a therapy room and a sensory room.

Each person will be individually assessed and their programme will be put together according to what they enjoy and what therapy they need. Respite will be offered in six months.

Mrs Whapshott’s 18-year-old son Connor will attend the centre.

She said: ‘We feel very strongly young adults need a young, dynamic environment not with older people because they have very different needs.

‘We wanted it to be a continuum from school, somewhere they can be with their peers.’

Users are referred through local authorities or can call (023) 9247 2061.