‘Christy will be stuck at home this summer - alone, unhappy and sad’

Council accused of disability discrimination after axing summer respite care.

Families have accused a council of disability discrimination after it axed a two-week respite care programme.

Isobel Mair, in East Renfrewshire, is a school for children and young people with additional and complex support needs.  

Since 2004, all pupils have had access to a fortnight of respite care during the summer holidays, but the council has withdrawn it to save money.

Nicola Kerr’s 17-year-old son Christy has Down’s syndrome and autism and is non-verbal. She says her son is being punished for having a disability.

“Isobel Mair is just wonderful – the children are going to lose so much,” she said.

“Christy is an only child, so if he doesn’t go to school, he’s isolated. School is his whole life. If he doesn’t get these two weeks, he’s sitting in the house alone, unhappy and sad.”

Christy Kerr loves spending time at Isobel Mair school.STV News

With just a few weeks to go until the summer holidays, Ms Kerr says she has been left in the lurch.

“I’m anxious, stressed and angry,” she said. “I’m self-employed and won’t be able to work, so I won’t have any money coming in. Prices are going up, so the pressure’s on to keep him safe, happy and entertained.”

Chair of the parents’ council at Isobel Mair, Tracey Campbell, said she felt the decision amounted to disability discrimination.

“Our children have just been left with nothing and the families without any other options,” she said.

“People have been really devastated and not actually knowing how they will go to work. 

“Those balances between what you need to do for all your children is so difficult anyway, so to have that taken away is devastating.”

In a statement, East Renfrewshire Council said: “We understand that the proposed change will be difficult for those impacted.

“Unfortunately, like all councils, we continue to face extremely challenging financial pressures and a range of tough savings had to be made.

“The additional holiday provision previously available for all in Isobel Mair has been redesigned to support children with the most complex needs.”

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