For 31 years, Brighter Opportunities for Special People (BOSP) has provided support to parent carers of disabled children by providing specialist clubs with care for their children and young people (from birth to 25 years old), with complex disabilities or life-limiting conditions. Profound disabilities/critical illnesses blight young lives, putting great stress on family units, including a higher potential for depression, unemployment, mental health complications and family breakdown. BOSP’s inclusive clubs in Essex enable children/young people, whether they have profound physical disabilities, require specialist feeding, have complex health needs or have very challenging behaviours, the chance to access fun activities readily available to their mainstream peers, whilst relieving family pressures by providing meaningful respite (5.5 hours) away from the family home, so parents and siblings get a well-earned rest, helping them sustain their mental wellbeing to enable them continue their caring role. Our clubs support children/young people at various stages of their development, with high level support, ensuring that communication, social healthcare and physical needs are met, whilst ensuring the safety of everyone in the setting. BOSP reduces isolation and empowers the children/young people through exciting structured activities, developing their independence, self-esteem, life and social skills, so that they can enjoy a better quality of life inside the home and within the wider community. In addition to supporting the whole family by respite, we provide vital emotional support to parents/carers in a form of face to face and telephone support, and the facilitation of peer support groups. We are the only South Essex organisation that supports those with the highest needs in a club setting away from the home in the community. BOSP believes in community collaboration, being active members of the Essex Community Tree Network, a group of organisations who came together to provide an information service with the aim of improving awareness, community engagement and the mental well-being of residents. All the above contribute towards tackling long-term wider social issues of lack of community engagement, low aspirations and mental well-being, contributing to the breaking of these cycles.
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