A “brokerage” service to provide short breaks

Scope - Disability Charity
Country of Implementation
United Kingdom
Western Europe
In cooperation with
Suffolk County Council
First published

Activities Unlimited (AU) provides leisure activities for disabled children and young people, It is aimed at tackling barriers faced by parents and caregivers, who are seeking activities for their disabled children that are safe, fun, and appropriate, while simultaneously giving them regular breaks from their caring roles.

Solution details


“The team at Activities Unlimited works incredibly hard to support families who have children with additional needs and to ensure that the young people have access to a whole host of fantastic opportunities and activities to enhance their social and life skills.” Cheryl Sharland, Head of Inclusive Services, Suffolk County Council

Problems Targeted

Parents of DCYP require regular short breaks to enable them to continue to provide their children with the care they need, but it has proven difficult for families to find and arrange suitable activities for their disabled children during such times. Traditional ‘respite’ models lacked choice: The focus was primarily on caring for the child, and was available only to those with the highest needs. Further, long waiting lists did not always consider the best outcomes of the child.

Solution, Innovation and Impact

The AU model provides leisure activities for the DCYP and short breaks for their parents/caregivers based on need, taking into account the voice of children, young people, and their families, and using fair, understandable, and transparent eligibility criteria so services are not just restricted to those in crisis situations. Families complete an online self-assessment via the AU website. This identifies the level of offer they receive, which could be an individual budget that can be used to purchase activities, equipment, or 1-to-1 support. Registered families are able to access a range of suitable activities overseen by the brokerage (Scope), which is responsible for matching the needs and aspirations of disabled young people by developing the market and creating a wide range of short- break leisure and recreation opportunities. Providers of short-break leisure and recreation opportunities wishing to register as AU providers and to promote their services must do so through the brokerage, which has developed a robust quality-control mechanism. The brokerage service gathers feedback from users about the types of activities they would like, and the brokerage proactively approaches specialist and mainstream providers to see how the local market could respond to meet these needs.

Funding, Outlook and Transferability

AU offers a model that is responsive to a personalised agenda and is easy both to scale-up and replicate. Grant funding, alongside government support and a set of quality standards, is also available on a time-limited basis for providers who want to develop or improve their offer to disabled children and yong people. Scope has adopted the AU model to establish two similar projects in Leeds and Blackpool.


Related information


Solutions with the same:

Country of Implementation

United Kingdom

Region of Implementation


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