Thrive-to-25: Southwark’s Short Breaks Innovation Programme

Thrive-to-25 is Southwark’s Short Breaks Innovation Programme, funded by the Department for Education.  

It is being delivered by Southwark Council and partners until the end of March 2025, to support the development of new and existing activities, as well as other forms of support for children, young people and families.

The programme has 4 key areas, developed in partnership with parents and professionals:

 SENsational Stay & Play sessions have been rolled out across the borough by our Children & Family Centres in collaboration with Cherry Garden School. SENsational Stay & Play sessions are fun FREE sessions for children with additional needs or disabilities and their parents and carers. Families can attend to

  • have fun with their child
  • meet other families with SEND children
  • get information and support on topics such as communication, sleeping and eating, positive behaviour and Autism.

There are now 11 regular sessions delivered from 8 different locations. The venues have a range of facilities including indoor and outdoor play, messy play, arts & crafts - some even have sensory rooms and soft play!

Sessions are delivered term-time, at weekends and during school holidays.

Sessions also include input from specialist services such as the council’s Autism Support Team and Positive Behaviour Support Service.


* Term-time sessions focus on 0-8s but holiday sessions are available for up to 11s!

 We are working with a number of providers to improve access to short breaks for children with higher support needs. This may include children and young people with additional needs related to things like behaviour/ communication, support to use the bathroom and/ or specific physical or health needs.

This includes working with existing providers to see how we can support them to be more inclusive of children with a broader range of needs, as well as piloting new provision with some specialist providers.

We are piloting a range of new special interest groups and social clubs for young people aged 16-25 including a coding club and ‘gigs and trips’ group. These activities aim to support young people to develop new and existing skills and connect with peers around shared interests.

These activities have been published on the 16-25 section of the local offer and distributed by local organisations. Please visit the Things to Do section for details of these activities and others available locally.

We are also working with local partners, Bede House and Southwark Resource Centre to pilot a new awards programme for 19-25 year olds with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) who are not in education, employment or training. The awards programme is based around Mencap’s Gateway Award.  

We are working with VoiceAbility, parents and young people to conduct reviews of local activities and to develop action plans for improvement. The reviews centre around improving access for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Through this strand of the programme, participating providers have access to specialist support, training and resources to help them respond to feedback and improve their provision for children and young people with SEND.

For more information about this project visit: 

We are capturing feedback and learning throughout the year to help us better understand what does and doesn’t work for families, to help us improve future services.  

Further information about this programme and associated activities will be published on Southwark’s Local Offer throughout the year. For more information or to join the mailing list you can also contact