Families of children with autism or a learning disability will be offered crucial respite, thanks to a newly renovated bungalow by Dorset Council.  

Hayeswood, a short breaks home in Wimborne, is set to become a vital resource for local families caring for children aged 8-17 with learning disabilities and autism.  

Families raising children with disabilities often find themselves under immense pressure, and in some cases, this can even lead to the family unit breaking down. 

The primary goal of this centre is to relieve these pressures and offer early intervention support to families in need, with the aim of keeping children out of residential care and helping families stay together. 

This much-needed respite will provide families with a precious opportunity to spend quality time with their other children and loved ones, or to just give parents valuable time for themselves to recharge their own batteries.  

two people standing in a bedroon

The Hayeswood team has ambitious plans, with outreach services on the horizon to further extend their work. 

The bungalow has been transformed into a home-like environment, complete with three bedrooms, providing children a positive space where they can engage in activities they enjoy and have new experiences.

The centre will provide families with the opportunity for their children to stay for a maximum of 75 nights per year, with referrals being made on a case-by-case basis through social workers. 

Hayeswood manager, Mandi O’Conor said, “Often, families can feel like they’re on the brink due to the tremendous pressures they face. Any early support is absolutely crucial.”  

“For some families, the thought of becoming an adult and leaving their homes can be terrifying. But by providing a positive environment away from home, we believe we can make that move much easier.” 

“Some people worry that they shouldn’t have to ask for help, but we want families to realise that asking for support shows they understand how best to help their child. Our aim is to create nurturing hubs where families can thrive with a bit of support and respite.” 

Councillor Byron Quayle, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, and Early Help, said, “One of our priorities is to make sure that our families get the help that they need, when they need it, and we’re passionate about seeing families thrive. Hayeswood Bungalow will help to do both these things.” 

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