A mums’ campaign to get a respite facility to transform shopping trips for parents of disabled children has come to fruition.
The disability respite care charity the Hop Skip and Jump Foundation is now fitting out its unit in Horsham’s Swan Walk Shopping Centre after mums Samantha Buck and Natalie Gazey long campaigned for it. It is expected to open later this month.
Samantha’s son, Alfie, is severely disabled and she and Natalie even took their fight to Downing Street. They met the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron, whose son had cerebral palsy and epilepsy before he died in 2009.
Samantha Buck said: “It’s just brilliant. For parents of children with special needs - whether it’s physical or mental disabilities, where they are severely autistic (like Alfie) they scream all the time. You cannot think.
“You need to go to the dentist or go shopping. I would have used something like this all the time (when Alfie was younger). Horsham would have got a whole lot more of my money. It’s brilliant news.”
The specialised unit, which is only the second of its kind in the country in a shopping centre, will contain a soft play area, an art and music space, sensory facilities, a fully accessible wet room and changing facility unit.
Samantha added: “It’s respite care. Anyone can use it no matter how severe the disability. There are on site nurses.
“You have to preregister your child so you can tell them things to look for, medication, triggers.”
Centre manager Gill Buchanan said: “We are very aware of the challenging and diverse needs of some of our loyal and regular customers and when the opportunity arose we were keen to offer our help and to work with the Hop, Skip and Jump Foundation. We know having this facility in the town centre will be life changing for many carers, allowing them the chance to get specialist respite care for their loved ones whilst being able to visit the town centre.”
For more details go to hopskipandjump.org.uk/swan-walk-horsham