Norwich mums appeal for help for disabled youngsters

Two Norwich mums have told how they feel there is a gap in services and support for their disabled daughters.

Gabriella Speck and Lucy Dixon-Sell, both 10, have physical disabilities, but their mums say that because neither have learning disabilities as well, there is little support and few facilities that are geared up to meet the families' specific needs.

Now Gabriella's mum Michelle and Lucy's mum Tracy are calling for the voluntary sector, local authority and other organisations to work together to better support disabled children who go to mainstream schools. Ms Speck, 38, of Scarlet Road, Tuckswood, said she had not found any playgroups or respite services she felt were suitable for Gabriella, who has cerebral palsy, as many places cater for children who also have learning difficulties.

She said: 'You can't get a holiday club because she needs so much care, and while there are some places for children with very complex needs, Gabriella wants to be playing Monopoly and socialising with other children.'

Mrs Sell, 29, of Wycliffe Road, near Eaton Park, said she felt her daughter Lucy, who has spastic diplegia, and Gabriella, who both go to Colman Junior School, were missing out and resorting to online virtual worlds for friendship.

Norfolk County Council offers short breaks for children with any kind of disability through its website.

A spokeswoman for the council said: 'We recognise that it can be difficult for children with physical disabilities to access services that specifically cater for children with their needs. Proportionately there are only a small number of children with solely physical disabilities and so many services will also cater for children with learning disabilities, as there are more children with these needs.

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'However, we will always do all we can to match our support and services to each individual child's needs and will offer families as much choice as we possibly can.

'We are currently working to find a service that will provide some respite for Gabriella.'

The mums are appealing for any other families who feel they are in the same position to contact them by email at