What are short breaks

What are short breaks

The short breaks service statement, what short breaks are, who they're for and how to arrange one.

Short breaks service statement

Read Bristol's short breaks statement for 2021 (pdf, 1.1MB) (opens new window) .

The short breaks for disabled children service statement tells you:

  • what short breaks are available
  • who these services are for 
  • how we’ve designed a range of services to meet the needs of families 
  • how we evaluate services and make sure they’re meeting our standards

We review the statement every year to make sure it’s up to date. 

Read the full short breaks policy.

Find out what types of short breaks are available

What short breaks are

Short breaks are activities for disabled children and young people and their families.

They give disabled children and young people the chance to:  

  • spend time away from their parents and carers to build independence skills
  • take part in activities and try new things
  • relax and have fun with their friends

This gives parents and carers a break so that they can:

  • spend time with other family members and friends
  • rest and unwind
  • do other things they enjoy

A short break can be a few hours to a week to overnight stays. They can be in the day, evening or at weekends at:

  • the child’s home
  • the home of an approved short break carer
  • a residential or community setting outside of school, such as after school clubs 

Residential and overnight short breaks are registered with and inspected by Ofsted. Short breaks can include:

  • families taking a break together, away from the routine of daily life
  • a break for your child away from the family
  • group activities like a youth club for children and young people 
  • holiday play schemes
  • sports, arts or music activities
  • one to one support so your child can take part in activities such as cinema trips

By law, local authorities must have a range of short breaks services. They must also have a short breaks statement that lets people know about these services and who they're for.

Types of short breaks services

Universal services

These services are for all children and young people.

Targeted services

These services are only for disabled children and young people.

You can book these activities by contacting the provider. Find out more about these services and who to contact.

Specialist services

These services are for disabled children and young people who need the most support. This is usually because they have a severe disability. To use these services, families need to have a social work assessment. Find out more about specialist short breaks services.

Find out more about the different types of short breaks services.

Who short breaks services are for

Targeted and specialist short break services are for children and young people who:

  • are aged 0 to 18 years old
  • live in the Bristol area or are a child in care placed by Bristol City Council and have a life-limiting or long-term health condition or disability

Some short breaks activities are just for children, others are for teenagers and young people. Some are for children and young people with certain types of disabilities or impairments, such as autism or sensory impairments.

Find out more about organisations that offer targeted short breaks.

Find out how to get a short break.

How short breaks services help children and young people and their families

Short breaks services help:

  • families to stay together
  • children and young people and their families to be healthy and happy
  • children and young people to learn new skills
  • children and young people to have fun with their friends and make new ones
  • children and young people to be more independent

How children and families have helped to shape short breaks services

In 2018 and 2019 we listened to lots of disabled children and their parents and carers so we could better understand what they want from short breaks services. We used this feedback to design the short breaks services in Bristol.

What parents and carers told us

"A break from caring is the most important thing that helps me to cope."

"We just want to do ordinary things for a while."

"Fun activities with our kids are great, but they don't always give us a break from caring."

"Give us more evening and weekend breaks - I want a night off!"

What children and young people told us

"We want more things to do and more places to go."

"We want to do the same fun things as our brothers and sisters and friends."

"We want more access to ordinary activities that all other young people use, such as youth clubs and leisure activities."

"We don't understand who can access what."

"It's the transport, I can never get there."

Short breaks services ask for feedback from children and young people who attend and their parents to make their services better.

Tell us what you think

We want your feedback about our short breaks statement for 2021 (pdf, 1.1MB) (opens new window) and the services it describes. 

Tell us what you think.