THE parent of a six-year-old boy from Verwood with cerebral palsy has said that her child is facing “discrimination” from childcare providers who say they are not “suitable” for her son.

Sam Walton contacted many providers across the area to enquire about children’s camps for Chester to attend during the six weeks of the summer holidays.

However, after revealing that her son requires the use of a wheelchair, she said some care providers, many of whom advertised themselves as ‘inclusive’ or claimed to have wheelchair access, said they could not facilitate him.

“The special needs school that Chester goes to doesn’t have its own summer holiday club, other specialist schools are only allowing their own students and all of the mainstream summer camps I have tried say that they aren’t suitable, which I don’t believe to be true," she said.

“Several simply haven’t replied to my enquiry, and others claim to be ‘upstairs’ meaning they wouldn’t be accessible, despite saying on their website that they are wheelchair accessible.”

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Sam works from home with her husband Ben and clocks up 30 hours a week.

Whilst they are able to use some of their holiday to do things with their son, at the moment he is spending most of his time by himself.

“People hear a diagnosis and just instantly make assumptions or jump to conclusions without even taking the time to find out exactly what Chester’s needs are," said Sam.

“They don’t think of the impact on families, like we aren’t normal people just trying to have a normal life.

"They don’t see Chester as just a little five-year-old boy who wants to play with other children, they see him as an inconvenience.

“It’s completely and utterly heart-breaking. All I want for Chester is to be happy, to have fun and to be included in things."

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Sam has called on BCP Council to provide better options for SEND children in the area, as well as ensuring that those providing care adhere to the services they claim to provide.

“The local authority isn’t ensuring that childcare providers are inclusive, they don’t support them to be and there is no consequence for them discriminating against children like Chester this way," she said.

“Someone needs to take accountability for the way inclusion is monitored. It isn’t a buzz word to get a better Ofsted report, it’s life for some people.”

Councillor Nicola Green, portfolio holder for education, said: “We are committed to achieving inclusivity for all and our Family Information Service has a team of advisors who can support parents to find suitable childcare and holiday provision.

“There is also a range of fully inclusive holiday programmes available to support children with additional needs, including Short Breaks and the Holiday Activities and Food Programme.

“Our Family Information Directory has a list of childcare and holiday scheme providers and the Family Information Service are always happy to support with brokerage of places.

“The team will be pleased to hear from any parent and can provide support to help find the right provision to suit their needs.”