Portsmouth needs to do more for ‘isloated’ disabled children mums say

Parents Geraldine Prior, Zoe Dear and Natalie Reeds.  Photography by Habibur Rahman
Parents Geraldine Prior, Zoe Dear and Natalie Reeds. Photography by Habibur Rahman

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  • Parents urge council to create more events specifically for youngsters with disablities and special needs
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FRUSTRATED mothers have hit out saying there needs to be more activities for their disabled children during the school breaks.

Parents are urging Portsmouth City Council to consider setting up more events specifically catering for children with disabilities and special needs.

The council says there is plenty on offer for parents, with a plethora of inclusive schemes for youngsters and their families.

But parents, like Zoe Dear, of Serpentine Road, Southsea, disagree. She said her nine-year-old son Rudi – who has a rare gene abnormality – felt isolated.

She said: ‘It’s heartbreaking. There’s nothing for them. This is the 21st century – there should be more for our children.’

Natalie Reeds, 39, of Wymering, said inclusive events were not always appropriate for some children with disabilities like her eight-year-old son Jack.

He has a range of issues, including a mixed neurodevelopmental disorder, ADHD and autism, which make it hard for him to cope with busy crowds.

She said: ‘Integration is nice but you always feel like you’re being judged and like you’re an outsider. I want somewhere for him to go where he feels safe and where people aren’t staring at him.’

The council says it does not create disabled-only events, instead opting to promote a range of inclusive activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Julia Katherine, the council’s head of inclusion, said there was plenty of information available for parents looking to keep their disabled children entertained.

She said: ‘We support children with a disability and their families by offering specialist care, this can include dedicated respite and short breaks.

‘We have worked with parents and carers of children and young people with a disability on a website that provides information on services and support in the area called Portsmouth local offer. Activities that all children can enjoy are often held during the holidays and this includes events at libraries and museums, which are inclusive for age ranges and capabilities.’

For details on city activities, see portsmouthlocaloffer.org