Cherry Trees – home from home respite care

My better half was secretary of the Ridgeway Community School “Friends association” until very recently. One of the other committee members, also a parent of a child attending the school, would take my son’s class for football. Quite by coincidence both he and my wife were at the same event today. A round table discussion organised by Farnham town’s Mayor, which allows the participants to ask question of the Mayor. Apparently the Mayor’s office randomly selects 150 names off the electoral role and invites them along. He gets a hit rate of about 10% – so much for the “big society“. When my wife returned she was full of praise for the event.

Along with a load of literature about Farnham and the surrounding area my wife had also been handed a business card by her fellow committee member. Turns out he’s about to run a marathon and aims to raise £5000 for a local respite care home – Cherry Trees. Cherry Trees provides home from home respite care for children and young people with severe learning and physical disabilities. Founded in 1980 by a group of parents and doctors, Cherry Trees has become a lifeline for the families of more than 100 children and young people who are regularly cared for at the centre in East Clandon – for a few hours, a weekend or even a couple of weeks.

Cherry Trees have no set criteria for deciding which children can attend other than they have moderate to severe disabilities and that the staff will be able to meet their needs when they stay. Cherry Trees supports individual learning programmes for each child and follows through all programmes that are being implemented at home or school, but they don’t provide a structured educational system believing they offer a home from home where children and young people can relax, play and make friends. I think we will be contacting Cherry Trees to see if we can arrange a visit and, all being well, perhaps get a place for J.

We have become more acutely aware in the last few days that we may have been kidding ourselves that we are coping with providing for the different needs of our two children.  Perhaps we have failed to see how having a brother with special needs can adversely affect our daughter. Rightly or wrongly she believes we sometimes ignore her to concentrate on her brother. SWe don’t believe this to be the case. In fact we think we over compensate, but to be a sibling of a child with special needs cannot be any easier for a young child than it is to be the parent.

My lovely daughter seems to cope well but I think a little ‘me’ time may be in order. And as her brother needs pretty much constant attention, if we are to prevent him simply vegetating in front of the television, then some structured care for him – even for a few hours a month – would allow us some quality time with our daughter.

You can “follow” Cherry Trees on Twitter – twitter.com/cherrytreesuk

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