Over the coming days, we’ll be featuring the stories of some families who have, or have had in the past, a child who has benefited from respite care at Charles House in West Heath. We hope this will help the families demonstrate what a vital service Charles House provides as they campaign against the threat of possible closure.

Our fourth story is told by Sarah Harris:

I am the mother of Riley who goes to Charles house and am very concerned about the possible closure of it and the other children’s homes.

My son goes for 7 days every 7 weeks and Charles House is a place of excellence which has had outstanding Ofsted reviews for the last 5 years that I am aware of .

Riley needs 24/7 care as he is severely autistic and has severe learning difficulties . The support we receive from Charles House, with its amazing staff, allows my family a much needed break and I am so happy and feel privileged to have the staff at Charles House look after Riley.

It is a centre of excellence, with it’s sensory room, and staff are able to take Riley on many trips which I feel enriches his life and helps him with his independence.

As he is a very special boy, aged 11, he is still in nappies and needs someone with him at all times to  make sure he is safe as he does not have any sense of danger. He also has pica so eats anything that is not food.

I do not feel comfortable having Riley in a foster care home in the community as it has taken a very long time to make our house safe. As he gets older we find more challenges – we have a special gate near the front door, finger guards on our doors , stair gates on our kitchen  and our cupboards have key locks so he can’t open any which have dangerous items inside. We also have bolts on toilet and laundry room to keep him safe.

Riley has shown me that he loves his times at Charles House by leading me to their front door and saying “Go” or “Home” to me. He is non-verbal – I believe he is showing me this is his fun place to visit and it is time for me to go home! What more proof do they need that Charles House is the perfect place for children like Riley than from the child himself!



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Read about the council’s 2012 budget consultation and how to have your say 

If you’re a parent of a child who use, or has used in the past, the facilities at Charles House, please get in touch and tell us your story. 



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