Doc Martin star Martin Clunes gets behind the Sun's 'Give It Back' campaign to help disabled children's families

TV STAR Martin Clunes has backed the campaign to help support families with disabled children and to demand the Government reinstates £434 million lost in funding cuts.

The Sun launched the "Give It Back" campaign last year, to help the hundreds of thousands of families with disabled kids who are struggling because of lack of funding.


Martin Clunes writes: "I’ve been a patron of Julia’s House Children’s Hospice in Dorset where I've lived for 15 years. It’s just an amazing operation run by extraordinarily gifted people.

"It’s one of a network of hospices doing incredible work night and day for our most vulnerable children across the country.

"Not just giving end of life care but everyday care and support for families with life-limited children.  

"A report has just been carried out into the economic impact of parents not having respite care.

"It costs the government and local authorities more if it is NOT given because families buckle under the strain.

"The Sun has been campaigning to return the £434million missing in social and respite care to parents of disabled children. 

"Right now, six out of ten families don’t get any respite breaks at all, and of those that do, three-quarters of them have lost these breaks during lockdown.

"I wholeheartedly support the need to improve funding for this life-changing care for families – I’ve seen the difference it makes to families at breaking point.

"Respite care is something that’s quite hard to get your head around unless you’ve come across it.

"It’s where you’ve got a child with such complex and medical needs that actually you can’t sleep at night because they need 24/7 care. 

GIVE IT BACK

Why we demand the Government helps families with disabled kids:

Disabled children and their families are desperately struggling because of a lack of support.

We want the Government to reinstate the £434m of funding it has cut from early intervention services – such as respite care and vital equipment.

It is time for the Government to Give It Back.

The number of disabled children in the UK has risen to nearly 1 million over the past 10 years – up by a third.

But funding and support has been cut.

Families with some of the most vulnerable children in the country are struggling to cope.

That’s why we’re working with the Disabled Children’s Partnership to help them.

Together we can make a real difference and hugely improve the lives of disabled children and their families.

We want you to share your stories, email us on [email protected]

Please sign Ollie’s letter to put pressure on the Government to act now.

"So a little break from that, even if it’s a few hours a week, can make all the difference in the world for these families and just give them a chance to charge up their batteries.

"But it’s also for them to see their child interacting with one of these special people from Julia’s House. 

"I’ve seen nurses and carers bring smiles to so many faces. 

"It’s not just about the medical support they give, it’s about how they talk and play with the children, their sense of fun – they build such a special connection. 

"The families know they can take a break because their seriously ill child is in such safe hands.

"The hospice’s community service has been working throughout the lockdown. To have someone come around who just lights up when they see your child with their complex problems and goes, “here we go, it’s my turn now.” 

"It’s a real gift to those parents. I’ve spoken to enough of them to know how much it means.

Is your family affected by the cuts to funding? Tell us your story. Email: [email protected]

"Dad, Dan McEvoy told me that when he heard he would get a budget to buy nappies for his daughter for the rest of her life, he realised he couldn’t go on with this work, looking after a disabled child and maintaining some degree of a relationship with his partner.  

"His daughter Elisa’s care is 24 hours a day but knowing she’s being looked after and in safe hands for a few hours means he and his partner can actually switch off from that.  

"Without that kind of support from Julia’s House, he said the heart would be ripped out of the care available to families just like his.

"Martin Edwards, the Chief Executive of Julia’s House, told me the numbers just don’t add up.  The cost of parents like Dan having to give up work is huge.

"It’s bigger than the shortfall between how much local authorities should be spending on disabled children’s services and what they are actually paying for. 

"This pattern is repeated not just in Dorset, but across the country with other services for disabled children.

"Economists estimate that 11 per cent of parents would be significantly less stressed if they received respite care.  This reduces their demand for GP services by 8 per cent and mental health services by 49 per cent. 

GIVE IT BACK

"They also need to take less time off work – the cost of parents of disabled children having to leave work is estimated at £685 million a year.   

"Parents give up their jobs to be carers and devote their time to their child, but the support services they’re given have been steadily cut back and cut back.

"Families can split up without respite care, they go to the wall and that has a cost implication too.  Parents could really do with a hand. 

"I know there’s a lot of demands right now but don’t forget these guys, because they are a pretty special bunch of people.

"So with everything else that’s going on in the world I want to say to everyone involved, PLEASE change this situation. There aren’t any opinions to be had on it."

We launched our campaign in June 2019, demanding that the Government reinstate the £434 million of funding it has cut from families with disabled kids – for services such as respite care and vital equipment.

The lack of support means even disabled children's basic care can feel like an impossible challenge for their families, and many are missing out on essential equipment and even schooling.

Last year, more than 5,000 people signed an open letter calling for the Government to aid with the funding gap.

A report by X Factor charity Together for Short Lives has calculated that reinstating the £434million cut from vital care social funding for disabled children would boost productivity for thousands of parents.

It would also reduce their number of sick days, improve their mental health and reduce the burden on the NHS.


WHERE TO GET HELP

Contact A Family Support And Advice, 0808 808 3555

Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) – for specialist legal advice

Newlife – a charity that provides help with equipment

GOV.UK – to understand your child's entitlements

National Autistic Society
youngSibs – great advice for brothers and sisters of a disabled child

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