A Welwyn Garden City woman is at the forefront of a campaign seeking volunteers to provide regular breaks and activities for disabled children.

Margaret Carter is a Shared Carer, one of an elite group of volunteers who regularly give up time each year to provide fun activities or a short break to a child with learning or physical disabilities. By doing so, they also provide a much-needed break for the family.

There are currently approximately 70 disabled children benefitting from Shared Care in the county but many more could be helped if additional people offered respite.

Shared Carers can choose the number of hours care they provide care. In return, they are paid generous allowances to cover expenses.

Some of the activities they provide include taking the child to the park or doing a fun craft activity at home. People are also needed who can look after a child overnight or for a weekend.

Margaret explained how she became involved in the scheme: “I've been a Shared Carer for over 15 years, I worked in a school for children with severe learning disabilities as a teacher and that's when I started Share Care.

"To be a Shared Carer, I started off providing shared care for one boy in my school who I knew. I had him for tea visits. He was a lovely boy, very chatty, he was funny, it was very relaxing being with him. I was very busy with school, being a teacher, but you really just chilled out with him, it was lovely.

“Every child is so different and they're all different personalities and characters. They will have things that they like. I have them sometimes for a visit or for an overnight stay.

“I enjoy helping them to develop their communication skills and also developing their independence. I think that’s important. I go out in the community with them, to the park, just the sort of things that you would take your children to. I talk to the parents and support them.

“I am experienced working with children with disability and I love doing it but you have to be experienced. I'm sure there are people out there who think they’d like to try this and I think that's fine because you will get training. Sometimes there are things that are hard but generally It’s great.”

Margaret provides general care in Hertfordshire for Agnieszka and her family, and has even been to Poland a few times to support Agnieszka and her son when they returned to her homeland.

Agnieszka said: “When it was first suggested to me to have the help of a Shared Carer, I didn't know what to think and what to expect but have to say I'm very happy. It couldn’t have worked out better. Margaret and I have developed a friendship over the years and I’m sure we’ll stay friends.

“I’m a single mother and I have a son who is autistic. Margaret has a lot of experience with different types of disability and different type of care so that was really brilliant.

“I don't have a family around me so I think it's very good for my son to experience being in a different home meeting different people right to have a person who who's more than a camera hopes to really a friend because be just shared many things together and we went on holidays.

“Especially as a single parent, if you have a disabled child, it's difficult to really plan and organise good engaging activities for the six weeks holiday, that's why for me it was a very good option just to go to my home country and stay with my family. But I did need support as I couldn’t manage on my own, and it worked out brilliantly with Margaret with us."

To find out more about becoming a Shared Carer, visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/sharedcare or ring 0800 917 0925.