Short Breaks is a Dorset County Council commission to provide a break for parents/carers of children in Dorset with disabilities while their children take part in exciting and rewarding activities in a safe environment.

Short Breaks’ activities take place outside of school hours, during school holidays, weekends or after school.

The Arts Development Company is one of many providers and focuses on arts based activities including taking part in dance, music, drama and visual art as well as visiting the theatre, a cinema or other arts organisation.

We first started delivering Short Breaks in 2011 and continue each year as long as funding is agreed.

Early intervention

The aim of the project is ‘early intervention’; providing a break for parents and families of disabled children to enable them to spend a bit of time with other family members or to do something their day to day care duties don’t usually allow them to do. Parent/carers benefit by getting a regular break and children with disabilities benefit from taking part in an arts activity with other children, giving them a chance to socialise, try new things and gain confidence in a safe and supported environment.

Working with schools

As we have a background of working with schools and young people, we organise our activities in partnership with the Special Schools in Dorset as well as some of the SEND bases in the mainstream schools. This could be anything from an after school puppet club for a term, a trip to the pantomime at Christmas including a meal out or an activity in the school holiday involving working with specialist arts practitioners or musicians. We usually employ school staff as carers for these activities as they are familiar with the needs of the children taking part.

Partners and funders

Dorset County Council Children’s Commissioning Services

Bridport Round Table (additional funding)

Mountjoy School

Westfield Arts College

Yewstock School

Beaucroft School


Local artists/practitioners

H does not enjoy the holidays, he prefers to continue at school and with his routine. I find it keeps him from losing his skills, helps him manage his anxieties and to cope better with the rest of the holidays, so to us they are invaluable. They also give him other things to talk about, he really enjoys telling me and anyone who will listen about ‘holiday club’.

H’s mother


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