The Hansom Family

Before SSAFA's Short Breaks holiday, the Hansom family thought they had to divide their time, and holiday activities, between their differently-abled children.

The Hansom Family

Before SSAFA's Short Breaks holiday, the Hansom family thought they had to divide their time, and holiday activities, between their differently-abled children.

Having three young sons to keep up with is difficult for most families, but when one has additional needs, it can be even more tough. For years Cpl Neil Hansom, his wife Clare and their boys, have often had to spend, what should be quality family time, apart. SSAFA’s Short Breaks Programme gave them time and space to be together.

A usual week for the Hansom family includes Kyle, 12, and Alex, 8, heading off to swimming lessons, which cater only for mainstream children, and 11-year-old Joshua, who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, taking part in horse riding lessons, exclusively for disabled children. Activities at home where the boys can play and be together are few and far between. On holiday, Neil and Clare must ‘divide and conquer’ to make sure all the boys have fun. Canoeing and bike riding together as a family was considered unthinkable. That was until they went on holiday with SSAFA.

Short Breaks is an activity holiday in Exmoor, Devon for members of the Armed Forces and their families who have a child with a disability or an additional need. Specialist staff and adapted equipment at the site means no child would ever feel excluded from taking part, and parents have a space to enjoy family time, knowing their child is safe and exploring new opportunities. Neil said it was great to see the boys together:

“We really enjoyed it. It’s a family holiday which we could do together. On a mainstream holiday we often have to split up and can’t all be together as Joshua can’t usually do the activities. They don’t have equipment to cater to his needs or offer extra support.

“We didn’t get to do all the activities together though, because Clare ran away from the abseiling!”

Mum Clare especially wanted to thank the people who funded the project and SSAFA for making the trip possible:

“We think they are brilliant, and I want to say thank you for this opportunity. Normally I wouldn’t think of doing an activity trip, because I need to think of the whole family. But I would recommend this to everyone.

“It means a lot. We have seen Joshua enjoying it all, and the boys having fun together like brothers should.

“I would tell anyone eligible to apply to take part – or else we’ll be back next year!”

But it wasn’t just mum and dad that enjoyed it.

“The bikes were the best” Kyle said.  “I ended up in lots of puddles and got dirty.

“It’s great to do stuff as brothers. Mostly we can’t do the same activities, but it was nice doing stuff together."

Alex agrees: “Thank you SSAFA for letting us come here and have fun making new friends and doing activities with our autistic brother.”