The Powell Family

Royal Navy family, the Powells, attended the SSAFA Short Break, for families living with a disability, in the Autumn of 2022 - and were thrilled with the experience, and how their autistic son, Jake, coped.

Jake who has autism with repetitive traits and significant hyperactivity attended a SSAFA Short Breaks in August 2022, along with his dad Leighton, who serves in the Royal Navy, and his mum Linda. During his five days at the Calvert Trust Lake District centre, Jake achieved things his parents never thought he would.

His mum Linda explains more:

“I'm really proud of him this week, actually. He has done things that I never thought he would achieve.”

One of the family’s favourite moments was going canoeing on the Bassenthwaite Lake. Even though for Linda the experience ended with a splash.

“Within about 3 seconds my little lad realised he could splash me with water. Then within about 3 minutes, Matt, the instructor realised he could splash me with water. From that point in, nobody was not splashing each other… I fell out of the canoe.”

For Linda, the most important gift that SSAFA Short Breaks gave them as a family, was a sense of belonging, to be in a place and around other families free of judgement, where Jake just fit; a rarity for the family.

“We went swimming last evening and that was fine. We'd been in there about 40 minutes and all of a sudden I found myself crying just because it brings it home how much better he fits here in an environment that is designed for him rather than an environment that is expectant of him to fit what is expected. There are just not enough things like this for him and for us as a family.

“I'm sad we're going home…Really sad actually. Because he fits here and he doesn't fit in very many places with very many other people. So sad, really sad that we're going home.

“If we could do this every year, I would be here every holiday without question because it works, and I should be forever grateful to SSAFA.”