Skip to content

Short breaks offer disabled children and young people the chance to spend time out with others socialising and doing fun activities, giving their families a break and providing them with the confidence their child is well supported by a trained worker.

They include holiday and Saturday clubs, with activities ranging from lego and computer skills to buddying sessions.



What is a Short Break? 

'Short breaks' are activities specifically tailored for children and young people with SEND and offered by a variety of different providers across the county.  Parents and carers can leave their child for a short period of time in the care of the providers knowing that their needs are understood and met.   

The Short Break offer has been co-produced with families and young people to offer a choice of opportunities for children and young people with a range of SEND needs. Families will be able to access up to 40 hours per year.  (To access more SBLO hours, a social care assessment will need to be undertaken by the 0-25 service).

The SEND Community Services Directory

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Community Activities Directory promotes a wide range of community activities for families and young people with SEND, a comprehensive resource for families and professionals.

Tailored for children and young people aged 0-25, and their families, this is a valuable tool for finding local activities and support groups in the community. The directory will create opportunities for families to discover, engage, and participate in a wide range of activities, some activities will also include discounts for families registered on our Hertfordshire Additional Needs Database (HAND).

2024/ 2025 Short Break Providers

The Short Break portal is open to register your interest in the short break activities. Please discuss directly with your chosen provider(s) the hours they can allocate to your child and their health and safety guidance. Providers' contact details can be found below.

The Short Break hours will continue to prioritise access to for the most vulnerable children and young people. We also want to ensure, as far as possible that every child and young person with SEND can access at least one form of care support.

Whether you are new to the Short Break services or an existing user, please contact the providers directly for expressing your interest in a short break and booking your sessions. Please be aware that providers may not be able to immediately offer sessions.  


Districts: Countywide

Specialism: ASD, ADHD and neurodiverse conditions

Some of the activities

  • Karate classes
  • Lego and free play sessions
  • Aerial gymnastics / relaxation sessions
  • Animal meet and greet
  • Driving experiences
  • Indoor climbing
  • Pottery and crafts
  • Cooking
  • Watersports and outdoor pursuits
  • Donutting and other HDSF events
  • Outdoor free-play sessions
  • Any many more activities

Find out more information on their Facebook page.

Tel: 07565 255761

SPACE's website



Districts: East Herts and Broxbourne

Specialism: Special education needs/ASD/LD

CHIPS Holiday Club

  • Sessions will run in school holidays.
  • Complete care provided for children aged 5 – 19.

Taking place at:

  • Hertford  
  • Ware  
  • Hoddesdon  
  • Cheshunt 
  • Bishops Stortford 
  • Waltham Cross

CHIPS Saturday Club

  • Complete care provided for children aged 5 – 19
  • Saturdays 10 am – 12.30 pm (Ware 2.00pm – 4.30pm)
  • 10 sessions will run during term time from September to December

Taking place at:

  • 1st Bishop's Stortford Scout Hut, Footpath to Birchanger Wood, off, Heath Row CM23 5DH (Bishop’s Stortford)
  • Millbrook Junior Middle & Infant School (Cheshunt)
  • Hertford Children's Centre, Sele School (Hertford)
  • Forres Primary School (Hoddesdon)

CHIPS Teen Club

CHIPS have young but experienced members of staff who support and mentor the teenagers. The key objectives of the Teen Club are for the young people to learn life, social and independence skills. For example: budgeting, handling money. Where possible outings in groups. The teenagers are fully involved and make suggestions for outings and activities.  

  • For young people aged 13 - 19 years
  • Aimed at teens with moderate learning difficulties and/or limited medical needs
  • Runs once a month during term-time throughout the year and sessions at Christmas
  • 2 hours per session
  • Multiple locations

CHIPS Climbing Club

This club will be delivered from a centre with 4 main climbing walls offering 1000sqm of climbing. The centre has specialist facilities and equipment for people with disabilities, including wheel chair users. The centre will provide 2 instructors, with CHIPS supplying additional staff as required. Completing a climb will enhance a young person’s sense of achievement and bolster their self-esteem which will support other challenges they will face in their life. Weather permitting some outdoor activities may be offered.

  • Maximum 10 per session
  • For ages 10 - 19 years
  • Sundays, fortnightly 12.30pm - 2.30pm during term-time


  • Harlow Outdoors Activity Centre

Waltham Cross Playscheme

  • Holy Trinity School, Longlands Close, Crossbrook St, Waltham Cross EN8 8LU.

CHIPS Computer/ Gaming club

A range of IT/ computer gaming equipment will be available – computers, Wii, Xbox and PlayStation, for the young people to use. CHIPS staff and volunteers will support attendees to gain skills and experience using computers and gaming equipment in a supportive and sharing environment. Sharing of knowledge and experience amongst attendees will be encouraged through mini fun competitions and tournaments

  • Maximum 12 per session
  • For ages 12 - 19 years
  • Tuesdays, fortnightly 7pm - 9pm during term-time

Venue to be confirmed

Cookery club

This is for young people with additional needs aged 12-19 years.  Young people will need an SBLO allocation in order to attend.   The Cookery club is held in Ware.

  • Maximum 9 people per session
  • For ages 12 - 19
  • Thursday evenings fortnightly 7pm to 9pm during term time. 

Places must be reserved in advance

Contact CHIPS Play

01992 804 952


Hertsmere Mencap 

District: Hertsmere

Specialism: Special education needs

Holiday playscheme

Holiday playscheme will take place at:

  • St Teresa's Primary School,  Brook Road, Borehamwood, 


Jubilee House Trust

Districts: East Herts, North Herts, St Albans, Stevenage and Welwyn and Hatfield

Specialism: ASD, PD and LD

Jubilee House Trust will be supporting families with day-care short breaks at Peartree short break centre.

SBLO hours linked to residential stays increasing time available to young people who also have an overnight package at Peartree and at The Pines.


Action for Children

Districts: Countywide

Specialism: LD of varying severity, physical or sensory disabilities and/or behaviours that challenge, and other additional medical needs. 

Action for Children are offering:

  • Fundays held at our fully accessible shortbreak projects (West Hyde)
  • Out and About sessions offering a range of adventurous activities at various different sites

Tel:  01923 718939


Phoenix Group

Districts: Across Hertfordshire

Specialism: Deaf/ hard of hearing children and young people

School Holiday Activities

Visit the Phoenix Website for information on School Holiday Activities


North Herts CVS

District: Stevenage

Specialism: Special education needs/ASD/LD

Our playschemes provide an informal setting to support children and young people to undertake activities and interact with their peers, whilst providing an opportunity for parents/carers to have a break.

NHCVS Breakaway holiday clubs

Holiday clubs run during the school holidays and at half term too.

Taking place at

  • St Nicholas C of E Primary School (Stevenage)
  • Greenside school (Stevenage)
  • Woolgrove School (Letchworth)
  • for children aged 5-19 years with behaviours that challenge
  • AM Session – 9.30am to 12pm (for children aged 5-11)
  • PM Session – 1pm to 3.30pm (for children aged 12-19)

NHCVS Breakaway Saturday Club

The playscheme provides activities and opportunities for children to socialise with their peers either individually or as a group every other Saturday during term time.

  • for children aged 5-19 years with behaviours that challenge
  • AM Session – 9.30am to 12pm (for children aged 5-11)
  • PM Session – 1pm to 3.30pm (for children aged 12-19)

Taking place at:

  • St.Nicholas C of E Primary School (Stevenage)



Districts: St Albans, Dacorum, Welwyn Hatfield and some activities in Hertsmere

Specialism: LD of varying severity, physical or sensory disabilities and/or behaviours that challenge

Children and young people will enjoy a wide choice of risk assessed and fun activities. Friendship with other users will be encouraged and supported and chill out time encouraged. Wherever possible engagement with the mainstream community will be encouraged and supported where required.

SNAP Holiday Club

Holiday clubs will only be running at Watling View School St Albans, and Hobbs Hill Wood School in Hemel Hempstead

Independent Living Services

This session will start as a Buy-Cook-&-Eat session and will develop to focus on other Independent Living Skills, reflecting the interests of the individuals attending.

  • Once a week evening activity, time to be confirmed
  • For ages 14 - 19 years

Taking place at:

  • Unit 5 181a Verulam Road, St Albans, AL3 4DR


Tel: 07920 426378

Kelsey Ferrari

Contact SNAP


Watford Mencap

Districts: Watford, Hertsmere, Three Rivers

Specialism: LD of varying severity and can support additional needs such as epilepsy, gastrostomy

Advice service - 01923 713 632

Help and support for:

  • A friendly call
  • Getting support
  • Where to find relevant information
  • Basic essentials
  • Applying for benefits
  • Housing issues
  • Online activities

Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am - 4pm.

Watford Mencap Holiday Activity Schemes

This service is spread across each holiday, offering a variety of activities for a wide range of ages and abilities.

  • For ages 5 -19 years
  • Sessions are 10am - 3pm
  • Venue to be confirmed

Contact Watford Mencap directly for dates

Watford Mencap Weekend Activities

  • For children and young people with a learning disability aged 5 – 19 years
  • runs on various Saturdays throughout the year

Watford Youth Club

  • For children and young people with a learning disability aged 13-19 years
  • Runs on Friday evenings from 6-9pm during the term time

Watford Mencap Buddying Service

The buddying service will provide fully trained staff to support children and young people with a learning disability aged 5-19. The service will match staff to the interest of the young person they are supporting. The support could be offered for a short time or on a longer-term regular basis and will be offered to families as per interest. 

Please contact:


To contact Watford Mencap please see following:

Tel: 01923 220 816

For advice please email: 

Tel: 01923 713 632

Call us on Monday - Friday between 8am and 8pm, or Saturday - Sunday 10am until 4pm on 01923 220 816

Watford Mencap Facebook

Watford Mencap Twitter


SEN Venture

Districts: St Albans and Dacorum

Specialism: LD and ASD, behaviours that challenge, PMLD and other additional medical needs

SEN Venture are a holiday playscheme for children aged 5-13 with special educational needs providing activities such as sensory play, messy play and sports activities.

SEN Venture are based in a purpose built school that meets children's needs. Children have full access to the playground and soft play room.

*New location / address:

Woodfield School, Malmes Croft, Hemel Hempstead HP3 8RL 

Booking Page | SENventure

Contact: Dee Johnson

07359 092968



Districts: Watford

Specialism: LD of varying severity, neurological and physical impairments, blind/visually impaired children and young people, deaf/hard of hearing children and young people, medically vulnerable children and young people, ASD and communication challenges

Cathartic are passionate about people, of all ages, to know and understand their self-worth, to grow in confidence and to feel empowered through their creative programmes. Their nurturing community allows for children and young people to feel connected, to feel valued and to feel understood. Workshops are delivered in their vibrant, kind, uplifting, inclusive and safe environment. Participants do not need to be naturally creative to attend, as every task, including the equipment used, will be adapted and made accessible to each individual, promoting their independence with activities in which they can always achieve. Art activities can be tailored to encompass and celebrate unique interests, inspiring imagination, self-expression and ownership – Cathartic always celebrate achievements. Arts are transformative and having the opportunity to explore, experiment and create is an indispensable part of learning.

SEND Holiday Art Workshops:

SEND Holiday Art workshops are 4 hours per session and dates will be published on Cathartic website at the start of each half term, for the next school holiday period.

- From 5 years upward

Term Time workshops for children and young people with life-threatening illness/disabilities

These sessions will be taking place for children and young people who are not able to attend full time education due to ongoing medical treatments or complex needs

  • Children and young people can book a place for a block of 5 weekly sessions at a time, where they are able to meet and form friendships with other children and young people in similar situations
  • For ages 5 upward
  • Nursing staff can attend

Mentoring for blind/visually impaired children and young people

 This service will allow for blind/visually impaired children to access creative arts in an rich, innovative, explorative and accessible way. The mentoring service will allow for confidence in creating artwork to grow, and to experience and understand in a way that is suitable for their unique needs.

  • Sessions are 2 hours at a time 
  • From 5 years old upward

Taking place at:

Cathartic sessions will be hosted in a fully accessible workspace. The workshop is a highly sensory orientated and stimulating environment, with access to high-quality creative materials, pioneering sensory based creative technology, a comforting sensory room, secure outdoor garden space and fully accessible toilets complete with hoist, adult changing bed and Closomat toilet to be able to assist children and young people with any personal care needs.

  • Oak Yard, Rear of 131-133 Queens Road, Watford, WD17 2QL
  • Parking spaces are available for drop off and pick up  

Tel: 07838176466

Maria Todesco and Nicky Day




Who qualifies?

You may be entitled to up to 40 hours of activities if you:

  • live in Hertfordshire
  • are aged between 5 - 19 years old (until the summer holiday of the year the young person turns 19 if in full time education) with SEND
  • receive a middle or higher rate disability living allowance (DLA) or any personal independence payment (PIP), or
  • have a letter from your GP, your school’s special educational needs co-coordinator (SENCO) or another professional, confirming that your need means you require access to targeted services for disabled children and young people. Evidence of a formal diagnosis won't be needed, just evidence that their needs are of the level to be in receipt of the above benefits, or that a professional feels Short Breaks is appropriate.

Sometimes, disabled children and their families need access to more than 40 hours. To find out if your child is eligible for more hours, you can request an assessment from the 0-25 Together Team.

How much do short breaks cost?

Short Breaks cost £3.50 per hour to attend, but you might need to pay a little more, for example entrance fees to external activities, theatre trips and wildlife parks that providers may be able to offer. Families are expected to pay the charge at the same time as they book a place to avoid last minute cancellations which could have meant another child missing out on a place. It is important to note that non-payment for short breaks could mean that a child’s place is offered to another family. Providers have discretion to offer their own policy in regard to financial hardship.

Short Breaks and Direct Payments

If you receive Direct Payments, you can not use these to pay for Short Breaks.

Direct Payments are available following an assessment of need and can be used to provide a short break through paying for services or employing a PA, but they cannot be used to pay for the community short break activities. Direct Payments are used to pay for provision for your child to meet an outcome in an Education, Health and Care Plan, or in a Social Care or Health plan.

Short Breaks is a different and separate scheme.


Applying for short breaks

If you're not registered for Short Breaks you can register for an account online. Just create an account following the guidance provided above and upload proof of eligibility. 

The SBLO year runs from 1 April - 31 March. You'll need to be flexible if you want to take up the full hours. If you apply later in the year it's unlikely you'll be able to use all of these.

If you need help you can contact:


Short Breaks Portal - account guidance for parents

You can register for Short Breaks on the Short Break portal

  1. You will be asked to enter your details. Once you've done so, the username for your Short Breaks account will display on the screen. Please make a note of this, as it will not be emailed to you.
  2. You will then need to provide your child/young persons details.
  3. When complete, you can view a summary of children you have applied for and have the ability to amend your application.
  4. You will then need to click 'choose short breaks' and you will be provided with a list of all the Short Break activities available to your child or young person. Once you have selected the ones you would like the chosen provider will contact you.
  5. Once you have received a confirmation, you will need to provide proof of eligibility to your chosen Short Breaks provider.
  6. You can log back into the portal to access your application once submitted using the account you created.
  7. You can view your child/young persons current allocation of the number of hours confirmed/claimed/remaining in your Short Breaks account. This will only appear once your child/young person has attended a Short Break session and the provider has logged the hours used.
  8. The Short Breaks year runs from April-March. You will need to renew your application annually and will receive an email in advance. You'll be able to renew your application in your Short Breaks account.

What happens next?

Once you have completed your application online, please also contact your chosen short breaks provider(s) by phone or email to enquire about waiting times and waiting lists.   

Portal for Short Breaks providers

Access the Short Breaks portal for providers 

Please note that the access for families is found on the link above.

If you would like to apply on behalf of a parent/carer you can use the same steps listed in the parent guidance above.





If you need your password reset or have any questions about Short Breaks, please email:



Overnight short breaks

Overnight short breaks

Some young people with disabilities and complex health needs, may be eligible for an overnight short break (OSB) especially if they require support throughout the night.

The OSB service provides a break for parents and carers, whilst their children stay, for a short amount of time, in a safe and suitable setting. Having access to this support has important benefits for both carers and their children, helping the carer continue to care for their child and providing the child with a change from daily routine and an opportunity to develop new skills, stay away from home without their parents and mix with their peers.

How do I get an overnight short break?

An overnight short break is a specialist service, available only once a social work assessment of need has been completed. This assessment would be arranged via a referral through the 0-25 Together Service.

Where they are:

What should I expect from overnight short break providers?

  • Providers will offer a flexible and personalised offer for children and young people.  This will include 'add on' services such as Short Breaks Local Offer (SBLO) and support that can be purchased through Direct Payments.
  • Providers will develop a clear cancellation policy and complaint policy that is conveyed to all families.
  • The inclusion and participation of children and young people in the decision making is a vital part of making the service work well. Providers are to hold regular children and young people’s meetings and ensure they are able to contribute to the decision-making processes.



Page was last updated on: 19/07/2024 10:44:01


Like many other websites, we place small information files called 'cookies' on your computer.

Why do we use cookies?

To remember your settings, for example your language and location. This means you don’t have to keep entering these details when you visit a new page.

To find out how you use the site to help us update and improve it.

How do I change my cookie settings?

You can change the settings of your web browser so that it won’t accept cookies. For more information visit

But, doing this may stop you from using some of the online features and services on this website. 

Cookies we use

Cookies do a lot of different jobs, and we use 2 types of cookies:

Required functionality cookies – these cookies are essential for the website to work.

Performance and feature cookies – these cookies help to improve the performance and feel of this website, for example providing you with personalised services.

Take a look at a list of cookies we use on our website:

NameTypeHow we use itHow long we use the information for



Required functionality

An automatic cookie set by our software. 

Just for the time you are on our website.



Required functionality

An automatic cookie set by our software. 

Just for the time you are on our website.


Required functionality

To track the effectiveness of our website using Google Analytics. 

2 years


Performance and feature

To save the pages that you visit by clicking the heart at the top of the page. 

1 month


Performance and feature

This stores your postcode (or partial postcode) when we ask you for your location.

Just for the time you are on our website or 30 days (you choose this).


Performance and feature

This stores your location as a pair of latitude / longitude coordinates.

Just for the time you are on our website or 30 days (you choose this).


Performance and feature

This keeps a history of all answers submitted to the ready reckoner.

This is set in the control for each ready reckoner. If you haven't interacted with the ready reckoner for the set amount of days, the cookies are deleted.


Performance and feature

This keeps a history of what content cards are clicked on when using the ready reckoner.

This is set in the control for each ready reckoner. If you haven't interacted with the ready reckoner for the set amount of days, the cookies are deleted.


Required functionality

This used to track user sessions on forms hosted on

Just for the time you are on our website.

Third party cookies

There are links and content from other sites and services on our website. These sites and services set their own cookies.

Below are a list of cookies that the other sites and services use:

Service namePurposeMore information

Google analytics (_utma/b/c/z)

These are used to compile reports for us on how people use this site.

Cookies of the same names are also used for the same purpose by other websites such as Building FuturesCountryside Management Service and Hertfordshire LIS.

Visit the Google Analytics website for more information about the cookies they use.

You can prevent data from being collected and used by Google Analytics by installing Google's Opt-out Browser Add-on.

Google Translation - googtrans

This cookie is used to remember which language to translate each page into if you have chosen to do so.

It expires at the end of your browser session.


We use a Bing cookie to track the success of our marketing campaigns and make them more efficient.

Visit Bing to find out more about their cookies.


We use a Google cookie to track the success of our marketing campaigns and make them more efficient.

Visit Google to find out more about their cookies.


We have a number of presences on Facebook, which we may link to. Facebook may set some of its own cookies if you follow these links.

Visit Facebook to find out more about their cookies.


We have a number of presences and feeds on Twitter, which you may wish to follow or read from this website. Twitter may set some of its own cookies.

Visit Twitter to find out more about their cookies.


We have a YouTube channel, which we may link to. YouTube may set some of its own cookies if you follow those links.

Visit YouTube to find out more about their cookies.


This ASP.NET_Sessionid cookie is essential for the Netloan secure online payments website to work, and is set when you arrive to the site. This cookie is deleted when you close your browser.



This session cookie is set to let Hotjar know whether that visitor is included in the sample which is used to generate funnels.

Visit HotJar to find out more about their cookies.


These cookies are set to help us report on how people are using the site so we can improve it.

Visit Siteimprove to learn more about their cookies.