Midlothian Council: Save the Playscheme for ASN children

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Midlothian Council have provided a playscheme for children with additional needs that ran for 8 days every Easter and 20 days every Summer. 

This play scheme is a lifeline to MIdlothian families with ASN children. Unable to access mainstream holiday clubs, groups etc, the play scheme provided the required level of support for our kids whilst also providing the routine and structure that our children thrive from. This provided respite to families and made the long holidays so much easier to navigate with our amazing, but challenging children.

A letter from Midlothian Council was sent out to families (although many did not receive one) stating that Capability Scotland had not renewed their contract and the Council would be looking for another provider. Many of us kept in touch with the Council about this worrying situation, the contact went out to tender in January 2017 with no one apparently bidding for this. 

The Council seem keen to instead offer self directed support - an allotted amount of money to be given to a family to arrange their own holiday respite/ arrangements.  We have serious concerns about that option and do not think the Council fully understands the difficulty in finding respite provision for your child (there are not people just sitting waiting to take them), that relationships need built up IF you were lucky enough to find someone. Their examples of what to do with the money "getting a taxi to a football match there and back" or horse therapy does little to help us believe the Council understands fully the needs of our children and what the play scheme actually provided. (For inform disable riding groups have years long waiting lists and a noisy, busy, crowded football match and our kids would be like jumping out a plane without a parachute!)

I have to stress that all the information we had up to this point came from parents phone calls to the Council followed by social media posts we shared amongst ourselves.  We have someone looking at the tender that went out to see how restrictive it may have been, was the time period long enough to allow other organisations to consider it etc.  To date there has been little engagement from the Council until this week when myself and a group of families have been lobbying our locals councillors and contacting the Council.  

The loss of our play scheme would have serious and profound effects on the health and well being of not only ASN children but whole families! 

Whether the local education authority take over the running of the play scheme, the Council re-tender or possibly re-approach the previous providers who had felt their job was being made impossible by the Council -  I don't know!

i just know as families, as a community we need to fight this! 

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