Dorset Playschemes

For the past 17 years, we have successfully run a short breaks project for children and young people with severe complex needs aged from 5-18 years over the main school holidays.

The groups consist of no more than 10 children per day which allows us to create and deliver appropriate activities based around each young person’s individual needs. We do this through careful pre-planning, working with key professionals and by creating customised support packages and staff training.

All the young people are supported on a 1:1 or 2:1 basis by our caring, skilled and experienced playworkers, and we work closely with a variety of professionals as well as parents and carers to ensure we offer the highest standards of care and support.

Effective communication is key and the project manager regularly takes part in meetings and development task groups to maintain professional development and ensure that the project is reaching its full potential.

The children and young people experience:

  • Physical activities – opportunities to try something new or ones they already enjoy
  • Social interaction – access to the social experience of play is key
  • Arts & crafts – sharing ideas, sensory play and using their imagination
  • Music & dance – talent shows, singing and co-operative learning through play
  • Cultural play – breaking barriers and obtaining new skills and ideas
  • Free play – experimenting and adapting through their own ideas and adult led development
  • Picnics – communicating, new experiences and flexibility
  • Challenges – promoting self esteem, self worth and value
  • Entertainers – fun and refreshing, offering new activities and games.

During the main summer holidays, children can attend swimming sessions twice a week and we also try to attend local activity days such as at Weymouth Sealife Centre, Monkey World, Adventure Wonderland and Farmer Palmers (a maximum of eight young people per day take part in these sessions). We believe that risk is an integral part of any child’s experience of play as long as the risk is appropriate to each child’s individual level.

The scheme is monitored by the Short Breaks Commissioner and by the Dorset Children Who Are Disabled team, who are also responsible for nominating the participants.


Some great comments from parents:

“Always such a lovely team and Jess and Keira were exceptional staff.”

“I feel very confident leaving my child with you and your team, Shelly.”

“Oh my goodness…Godsend!! Thank you for your drive, confidence and support.”

“100% it’s clear you have high expectations and the team value you being there to lead from the top down.”

“A really lovely team as always and she just loved coming.”

“Yes, he was always greeted with a beaming smile, and he was always full of smiles when I come to collect him. Thank you, Shelly!”

“Absolutely brilliant! I especially liked the staff member who was so welcoming.”

“The best yet – very welcoming, good atmosphere – the only project that works for us!”

“I have seen the staff in the swimming venue and they always act professionally.”

“I love all the staff, very approachable and always there to welcome the children in the morning.”

For further information please contact shelly.rossiter@ymcabournemouth.org.uk or on 01202 777766 / 07818 405750

Dorset Short Breaks Project Manager
YMCA Bournemouth
The Junction Sports & Leisure Centre
Station Approach
Broadstone, Dorset
BH18 8AX


Dorset Playschemes is Funded by Dorset County Council Short Breaks

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