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Durham University

Van Mildert College

Carers' Respite Committee

Established in 2011, Carers’ Respite Committee (CRC) provide respite to families of children with a range of disabilities and additional needs throughout the local area. This includes Easington, Horden and Peterlee. We strive to provide an environment which not only facilitates the development of a vital support system for parents and carers, but also where every child has the opportunity to interact with other children, grow in confidence and, most of all, have fun!

We do this by running ‘Happy Saturdays’; weekend activity sessions in a local community centre. Here, families have the opportunity to engage in a range of activities including board games, arts and crafts, football and even simple games of hide and seek or tag. Our sessions are very laid back and child-led. Many of the families we work with also benefit from home visits in which 2 to 4 volunteers visit them at their home and entertain the children for a couple of hours every fortnight. This means parents and carers can have a well-deserved break or simply complete tasks that they would otherwise have no time to do. In addition to Happy Saturdays and home visits, we also organise regular trips. This has included picnics at Summerhill Country Park and visits to the cinema, Diggerland and Flamingo Land.

All our sessions and trips are free of charge so we depend on funding from the JCR and committee events. We are also completely student led, relying on the dedication of 34 volunteers, 5 of which sit on our executive committee.

It is a testament to our good work that many of the families we work with have been committed to CRC from the very beginning, and remain in contact with past volunteers. It is these relationships that make the project so special; the project is not only greatly valuable to the families but also the volunteers.

Working in partnership with a school in Consett, we are looking to expand to include new families. This will mean that we are able to run an additional Happy Saturday in another area where local services are considerably oversubscribed. We are delighted at the prospect of furthering our good work and fulfilling our ultimate aim of being able to help more families in the local area.

“It has been such a pleasure to be a part of CRC since starting in my first year at Mildert. It is so rewarding to be part of such a fantastic project, and to be able to truly make a difference in the lives of disabled children and their families. They are so much fun to be with, and it's been such a fantastic experience. ”
Sophie Hurst, CRC Volunteer