Sharon has supported the findings of a report by the national deafblind charity, Sense, which has revealed restrictions faced by disabled children and families when accessing play schemes.
Sharon photographed with Anna Turley, Member of Parliament for Redcar, and Ted - a young boy who attended the reception.
The report followed a three month public inquiry, chaired by Lord Blunkett and Lesley Rogers, a parent of a deafblind child with multiple needs, into the provision of play for disabled children aged 0 – 5 with multiple needs in England and Wales.
The report identified failings at every level which has resulted in disabled children missing out on play opportunities, this included highlighting a lack of attention by government, insufficient funds at a local level and a negative attitude towards disabled children and their families as barriers to access to schemes.
It is estimated that out of 570,000 disabled children in England, there are approximately 100,000 0 – 19 year-olds living with multiple needs.
The report was launched at a packed-out Parliamentary reception in the Churchill Room last week with children and families all gathering to show their support for the report. Sharon spoke at the reception about the light this important report has shone into this area of policy and welcomed the chance of working together with Sense, play providers and families of disabled children to improve the access to play settings for those children. You can read Sharon’s speech here.
Following the reception and launch of the report, Sharon said:
“It was wonderful to see so many children and their families come to Parliament and make their case for better play provision for disabled children, whilst also having a lot of fun.
“The afternoon made it clear just how important play is to a child’s life, especially disabled children who can often be locked out of access to these kinds of schemes. That is why it was welcome to see those MPs and Peers who came along were given the chance to fully understand the disparity seen in access to play schemes.
“This is a timely report by Sense which includes a clear wake-up call for policy-makers and Government to act, and I hope that following the report’s launch it will create the much-needed public debate to improve the schemes and settings on offer to disabled children and their families.”
Sense is a national charity that has been supporting and campaigning for children and adults who are deafblind and have complex needs for over 60 years. These are currently around 250,000 deafblind in the UK. Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to deafblind people, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them. Sense runs services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and employ 2,000 people who work in services directly with deafblind people. Further information can be found on the Sense website – www.sense.org.uk