Finding activities to keep children both safe and entertained can be a challenge at any time, but particularly during a pandemic.

In normal circumstances, families with disabled children living in RCT have access to many different places to go for fun, skills development and emotional support. 

However, by March 2020 we were all faced with a strict lockdown and the very real danger of COVID-19 circulating widely in our communities. 

This made it virtually impossible for vulnerable children and young people to access ‘real life’ support safely. 

So when restrictions started to lift during Summer 2020, there was a need to create a safe environment where children with a disability and their siblings could have some much needed social interaction, while undertaking activities to support their development. 

To meet this need, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council secured Integrated Care Fund funding to deliver an ‘Assisted Play’ programme  for vulnerable children living in the area.

Over the course of six weeks, RCTCBC’s Play Development Team put on daily sessions in Covid-secure venues for children identified by the Disabled Children’s Team and Resilient Families Service.

Children and young people aged 5-14 years were supported to develop their social , emotional and physical skills through a range of interesting activities including arts and crafts, den building and gardening. 

Over the course of the programme, 161 children and young people attended 1006 sessions.

Many of these children had not left their home since March 2020 and were in desperate need of interaction with other children and professionals.

Images are stock.

Zoe Lancelott, Head of Community Wellbeing and Resilience at RCTCBC said:

"We were delighted to secure ICF funding to create the Assisted Play programme for families last summer.

“We know several months out of school and time away from peers can often be damaging to children's development, so we were pleased that professional and parent feedback at the end of the programme highlighted the scheme had helped to bridge the development gap.

“In addition, feedback from referring social workers stated that home placements had been maintained as a result of these daily sessions, which may otherwise have broken down, potentially leading to further statutory involvement.”