Praise for Hull's Leisure and Freetime Support Service
IT HAS proved a lifeline for hundreds of parents with disabled children.
Some of the families who use the Leisure and Freetime Support Service (LAFSS) came together to celebrate its tenth anniversary in style yesterday.
Activities, including wheelchair basketball, which has come to the fore at the Paralympics, were held at the Bonus Arena in Hull's West Park.
Mike Jameson, a LAFSS senior care officer, said: "We are currently working with about 130 children and their families in the Hull area.
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"We organise after-school clubs, sports clubs, various activities and residential visits.
"It is essential that families have somewhere to go."
LAFSS is funded by Hull City Council.
It has 20 members of full-time staff, as well as a team of volunteers who help organise a wide range of activities.
Mr Jameson said: "Caring for a disabled child can be very intense.
"These families need supporting, which is where we come in.
"Some people do not have a large family network to help relieve some of the pressure associated with looking after a disabled person.
"Others have may two, or even three, disabled children to look after."
Activities give parents respite, said Mr Jameson, who organised yesterday's party.
Sarah and Tony Hatley's daughter Eva, 9, has severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and mobility problems.
The family, who live off Bricknell Avenue, west Hull, are regular users of LAFSS.
Mrs Hatley said: "It can be really hard looking after a disabled child.
"Services like this really do help."
Eva and her family attend LAFSS swimming sessions at Frederick Holmes School in north Hull.
"The whole family can join in, which is really nice," said Mrs Hatley.
The family have also been away on residential trips organised by the service.
Mrs Hatley said staff understand that small things often make a huge difference.
"Sometimes, as parents, you need a bit of time to yourself – even if it is just an hour to have breakfast," said Mrs Hatley.
"On these trips, LAFSS officers will give the children their breakfast so you can have yours. It makes a big difference."
Mrs Hatley said the service is vital: "A lot of families would really struggle without LAFSS. It is so helpful."
Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson also visited the party and showed his support.