Parents and staff say farewell to Gorleston respite care unit Little Acorns after 15 years

Parents and staff say farewell to Little Acorns in Gorleston. Picture: Archant

Parents and staff say farewell to Little Acorns in Gorleston. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Staff members, parents and children have said farewell to a service that has helped hundreds of families over the past decade and half.

Little Acorns in Gorleston has offered respite care for children with complex needs for the past 15 years, however, it will close its doors for the last time at the end of the month, following funding cuts.

The home, on Castle Green, has provided short breaks and residential stays to hundreds of children in the Great Yarmouth borough since it opened, however it is now in its last month.

On Sunday, staff members held a farewell party, inviting families and staff members past and present to say thank you for their support over the years.

A staff member said: 'The event was all about giving the staff the chance to say their farewells to the people they have come to know and care about over the years.

'It will take a long time for many of us to get over the loss and the decision was one that was very difficult to take.

'We had such a fantastic team and working in this environment you do become close with the families that come through here, so we really wanted to say thank you.'

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The closure has been met with much disappointment and frustration from parents that use the services to get much needed respite from the busy lives that come with having a child with complex needs.

Mum-of-three Jennie Ives, whose 16-year-old son Jamie suffers from a variety of difficulties, including epilepsy, autism and ADHD, has attended Little Acorns for a decade.

She said: 'It is going to be absolutely devastating for us as a family. We live on Blake Drive so Little Acorns was just minutes away from us and there really isn't anything like it nearby.

'We trust the staff here - they know Jamie and all of his quirks. They know how to calm him down when he gets upset and how to care for him, so it really is devastating.'

Fellow mum-of-three Lucy Bancroft, of Ormesby, whose 18-year-old daughter Rachel attended, said: 'The staff here have become like a second family for us, so it really is going to be a big loss for the community.'

Little Acorns closes on September 30. The nearest unit of its kind ran by the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust is Squirrels in Aylsham.