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Praise heaped upon children’s short break units in Norwich and King’s Lynn

PUBLISHED: 11:43 09 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:03 10 January 2017

Ofsted.

Ofsted.

Archant

They provide places of refuge for children going through tough times.

And now, two centres which offer short breaks to youngsters run by Norfolk County Council’s children’s services have won praise from Ofsted.

Marshfields, a four-bed residential unit in King’s Lynn, has been graded as ‘outstanding’ by the education and children’s services watchdog.

The other unit was Aylsham Road in Norwich, which offers activity-based short breaks to children between five and 17 who are going through family difficulties ill health, domestic abuse, substance misuse, or are in a crisis situation at risk of a placement breakdown.

Roger Smith, chairman of the council’s children’s services committee, said: “These two short break units are a lifeline for many families across Norfolk, as they give family members a chance for some respite and help support children who are going through difficult situations.

“The secret to success of these places is the high level of commitment from the staff, who really get to know the children and build up trust with them, so they thoroughly deserve these excellent Ofsted judgements.”

Marshfields offers help to five to 18-year-olds from across Norfolk with severe learning disabilities or complex health needs.

This is the sixth consecutive ‘outstanding’ grading for Marshfields, which has a wide range of facilities including computer games for children with little mobility and a sensory garden.

One parent of a child who has benefitted from the Aylsham Road unit said: “Before short breaks we were considered on the edge of care and could have been split up, but now my son has had the opportunity to be in a consistent, positive environment and is learning boundaries and it has helped his self-confidence.”

The parent said that without this service and its support their family “would have crumbled”.

Aylsham Road achieved the highest inspection outcome for an interim one day inspection of ‘improved effectiveness’.

Children may stay there once a week, a long weekend once a month or during school holidays and activities range from skating and trampolining to arts and crafts, and even camping and caravanning trips. The emphasis is giving the youngsters time in a positive environment with staff who are well trained to support them.

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