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Daytrippers was the brainchild of one parent who had 2 young children one of whom has severe disabilities. Having a day out as a family was a nightmare with an active 4yr old and a child with disabilities. The day usually ended in tears with their visit having to be cut short due to her child with disabilities having a seizure or becoming unwell. This lead to the family feeling very isolated.
Gradually getting to know other parents and carers of children with disabilities made her realised that she was not alone and that abandoned days out and isolation were a common occurrence.
With this in mind she set about looking at ways to improve the situation she found herself in and decided to book a session at space, a special needs soft play/sensory centre and ask other like families if they would like to go.
This initial trip consisted of 4 carers, 5 children and was self funded. After the success of that trip Bev approached several parents and carers with a view to setting up a management committee and Daytrippers was born.
The initial aim of Daytrippers was to be able to provide a day out during each school holiday for children with severe physical and/or learning disabilities, their families and/or carers who often because of the child’s special needs become very isolated.
Since that first day out and with the help of grant funding from a variety of community funds including Bolton Shared Care, donations and funds raised at car boot sales etc the group quickly grew from hiring a 12 seat mini bus for outings to a 22 seat coach.
As word of our success spread we were faced with the dilemma of providing fully wheelchair accessible transport for those children that were unable to transfer to an ordinary seat. This initially meant those families travelling separately to the rest of the group in a wheelchair accessible mini bus. This was far from ideal as the families needed integration and not further segregation so as the numbers on each outing were continuing to grow we decided that we needed to solve the problem by finding a fully wheelchair accessible coach. Since October 2005 the whole group has travelled together by this means which has made an enormous difference to those families who felt further isolated because of their need for wheelchair accessible transport.
During the early days it became very apparent that the group was able to provide a lot of mutual support (both emotional and physical) not just to the special needs children but also to their siblings and parents/carers in a way that those who have not experienced similar problems cannot. This has enabled all those involved with the group to grow in confidence.
From our initial aim of providing a day out during each school holidays we have grown to providing at least one day out and an activity day each week of all the school holidays, Christmas parties, summer drop-in sessions, sports activity taster sessions e.g. Horse riding, swimming, ball games and with the specialist assistance of Bolton Council Outdoor Education Team, water activities, climbing wall and snow tubing/skiing. We also provide activities for the parents/carers e.g. shopping trips, murder mystery evenings, days out at aerial extreme, monkey forest etc. Alongside this we also work in partnership with Serco Leisure and Play and Party Fun House to provide weekly soft play sessions along with trampolining sessions all of which are open to the entire family.
From an initial 3 families/carers and with the help of CVS we became a registered charity in 2007. We make contact with the families of disabled children by newsletter which is sent out via all the special needs schools and nurseries in Bolton, we also send copies of this to appropriate departments within Health, Social Services and Education.
In 2008 (and desperately short of funds) we successfully applied for money from Bolton Council’s Aiming High for Disabled Children Pathfinder Project (Transforming Short Breaks for Disabled Children). Part of the conditions of receiving this grant was that we would have to provide fairly detailed information for statistical purposes about the qualifying criteria of the children with disabilities using our group. We got around this confidentiality issue by seeking signed consent from parents to pass this information on.
Gathering this information and feedback also confirmed for us (what we already knew but had little proof of) that Daytrippers was providing a much needed service not just for children with a wide range of severe disabilities but also for their siblings and parents/carers.
Our numbers have continued to grow year after year so that we currently have over 150 families who regularly attend our outings and activities. Although we do charge a fee for our outings and activities this only covers around 30% of the true cost and therefore we need to find the other 70% via our own fundraising initiatives and applying for grants. Over the past few years we have been very fortunate to receive some of this funding via grants from Bolton Council but with government cutbacks the amount of this funding has significantly reduced. We are also very grateful to all those other groups and individuals who have raised funds on our behalf or given donations.
True to its roots and despite its growth Daytrippers remains a purely volunteer run community group providing self help and support to any family in Bolton that has a child with a disability. All the trustees and management of Daytrippers are also parents or carers of a child with disabilities.