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Leisure Activities and Short Breaks

Since April 2011 every local authority has a duty to provide a range of short break services for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities.

In Suffolk, Activities Unlimited provides short breaks and leisure activities to disabled children aged 0-25 in. We recognise that short breaks and respite from a caring role are a priority for families and should be delivered as part of a broader package of family support services. 

Short breaks enable disabled children and young people to do many of the fun exciting activities non-disabled children have regular access to. They give parents and carers and their families a valuable break from their caring responsibilities.

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What are short breaks?

Short breaks enable disabled children and young people to take part in fun exciting activities. They give parents / carers and their families a valuable break from their caring responsibilities. In Suffolk we believe the short breaks should also support families to do things together.

The short breaks may take place afterschool, in the evenings, at weekends including overnight, in the school holidays, and can offer any kind of activity, or tailored befriending support. Short breaks are available to all disabled children and young people and young adults, up to their 25th birthday.

A range of specialist residential short breaks are available for disabled children and young people with complex needs who have been referred to the Disabled Children and Young People’s Social Work Service and in most cases, have a named Social Worker.

How can I access a short break?

Short breaks are universally available for children and young people with SEND, aged 0-25 in Suffolk. Simply browse through the activities we have available and contact the provider / organisation directly to book your place.

All AU funded activities promoted on the website will charge a fee for children and young people to attend. This is because they are either a mainstream provider who are already offering activities at a cost and would like to offer their services to disabled children and young people, or they receive investment from the Local Authority and adhere to Suffolk County Councils pricing strategy.

What services are available?

Every year, Activities Unlimited grant funds organisations/providers to offer short breaks and activities for children and young people in Suffolk. This can include family trips out, holiday and after school clubs, evening and weekend activities as well as overnight breaks.

It is a requirement that these providers register on the Suffolk Local Offer to promote their services.

Every activity will be able to cater for children with SEND however, some may require you to take a carer along with you, depending on your needs.

The lists linked below separate the inclusive providers and activities with the specialist breaks.
(please note – some may appear in both lists and support can be dependent on individual activities)

Mainstream / inclusive providers and activities
Specialist providers and activities
Activities for children and young people with autism

You can also search our Local Offer directory, the directory provides information on a wide range of organisations who offer services for children and young people.

Personal budgets

We have very recently launched a new service model for the way we issue Personal Budgets.  If you applied for a Personal Budget from the 9th of March 2022, you will be accessing the new service model. This means you have completed the new online application form and may have been allocated a Personal Budget award based on the new criteria. Information about the new service and criteria can be found here. The new Service model is now available for all new AU users who wish to apply for a personal budget and those who wish to appeal a prior decision.

If you applied for a Personal budget before the 9th of March 2022 by completing the online self-assessment form your current Personal Budget offer will remain the same for this financial year 2022 to 2023.  You will still need to provide evidence of spend in the usual way. We will be contacting you from September 2022 to support you to move over to the new system to apply for a Personal Budget form April 2023.  You will have a named person to help with this. The information about your service remains the same and can be found here

Suffolk County Council Personal Budget Policy.

We are working towards having more scope for Personal Budgets to give families more choice and control over the provision they receive. If you have any questions about Personal Budgets please email

Social Care Services

If you are accessing short break services through Activities Unlimited and feel your needs or, the needs of your child are not being met you can ask for a statutory assessment by contacting Customer First on 0808 800 4005. 

Find out more information on social care services.

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Apply for the short break personal budget

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