Charities ‘filling gap in services for young disabled people’


Disability charities are plugging the gap in services faced by disabled teenagers as they move into adulthood, according to a new report.

The Rights of Passage report by New Philanthropy Capital a charity thinktank and consultancy, says many disabled young people “get lost in the no man’s land between children’s and adults’ services”.

Many feel “shut out” of decisions made about their lives, because of communication difficulties, a lack of confidence in arguing for what they want, or a failure by agencies to consult with them or their families.

As a result, says the report, “many young people who could have gone on to higher education, interesting jobs and independent lives are held back before their adult lives have even begun”.

The report, which focuses on England, says support for disabled young people in this transition varies widely across the country.

Despite there being more than 600,000 disabled young people aged 14-25 in the UK, a government survey this year found only half of all local authority areas had a transition plan in place.

And only a third of all areas provided them with access to a key worker.

The report says charities are “plugging gaps” in local education, health and social care services, with some running specialist transition services, and others tackling stigma and ensuring the voices of young disabled people are heard by government.

The report says millions of pounds of government investment in disabled children will “go down the drain” if young disabled people “suddenly find themselves without the support they need to find their way in the adult world”.

Clare Yeowart, co-author of the report, which aims to help funders and charities have a greater impact on transition, said: “Things that most teenagers take for granted, such as going to college or university, getting a job or simply moving away from the family home, are not happening for disabled young people because they are not getting the support they need.”

Andy Lusk, executive director of services for the disability charity Scope, said the situation was reaching a critical point.

He said: “There is a severe shortage of suitable services available to young disabled people when they make the transition to adulthood.

“We even know of cases where families, as a last and often desperate measure, are forced to place their son or daughter in residential care homes intended for the elderly because there is no other placement available.”

12 November 2009