Debate Over Disabled Children Support Bill

South West MP Gary Streeter is campaigning for families to be given the right to take short breaks from the stress of caring for disabled children.

Mr Streeter is hoping for cross-party support for his Disabled Children (Family Support) Bill which is due to have its second reading in Parliament.

The South West Devon MP said it was “extraordinary” that families have had to wait so long for legislation. The Private Member’s Bill will be debated on Friday.

Kay O’Shaughnessy from Plymouth, who has a profoundly disabled daughter, said it is a 24-hour labour of love.

“But the reality is that you just have to get on with it,” she told BBC News.

“This is our lot. We have a daughter who is disabled and we absolutely adore her and do everything we can to make her life as good as possible.”

Mr Streeter’s bill was inspired by the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign. He believes families of disabled children do not want sympathy, but do need practical help.

Mrs O’Shaughnessy is frustrated there is no statute which enables families of children with special needs to take a break.

If approved, Mr Streeter’s bill would impose specific duties on local authorities to give families the right to take “essential” short breaks and provide them with respite care.

“That could almost be described as a ‘life-saver’,” Mrs O’Shaughnessy said.

“Many, many families are absolutely at breaking point – so tired and exhausted because they can’t live as other families live.”