Respite home issues £455k plea to help children

IT has offered respite care for children with complex disabilities for more than a decade. Now, city (Edinburgh) residents are being asked to dig deep to help Gilmerton Road raise £455,000 to refurbish and extend the facility, which provides a respite service for local families with children who have a learning disability and severe behavioural problems.

Since its launch in April 1998, Gilmerton Road has supported hundreds of youngsters with conditions including autism, Down’s syndrome and Angelman syndrome.

It currently supports up to 40 children, aged from five to 19.

Among them is 16-year-old Alex Cullis, who lives in Newington and has been using the service for the last year. The Sycamore Centre pupil, who has epilepsy and a severe learning disability, looks forward to his three-night stay every month.

Alex’s mum, Sarah, 53, said: “When I take him to Gilmerton Road, I get out of the car holding his suitcase, his big wellies and God knows what else, and he is running in – he can’t get in there fast enough.

“He would be there day and night for much longer if we could get more time, and that’s down to the quality of the staff.”

Alex, who has his own bedroom at Gilmerton Road, 
enjoys going out for walks with staff, making art, doing puzzles and using the computer.

Sarah, a mother-of-one, added: “This is his little holiday – his break. The feelgood factor is so incredible, it leaves you craving more.”

She said the service helped parents deal with the day-to-day realities of having a disabled child – physically or mentally, adding that she “dreaded to think” what would happen if the service was not available.

The Gilmerton Road Appeal – launched by Action for Children Scotland, which runs the service – hopes to raise the funds by year’s end, with the building work set to be completed by summer 2014.

To help, call 0300 123 2112, visit or e-mail [email protected]


MONEY raised from the appeal will go towards providing a new two-bedroom independent flat to enable longer-term residential care, and increasing the number of bedrooms for short break residential care from five to six.

An “intensive support area” will also be created, the main kitchen enlarged and a utility room added, while the conservatory will be replaced by a lounge.

Fiona Steel, of Children’s Services at Action for Children Scotland, said: “We hope the people of Edinburgh will dig deep and support this service.”