Disabled children's charity Kids is launching a new national appeal to fund a programme of respite care homes across the UK.
The new campaign will raise money to help build a series of homes and also develop recreational services for disabled children, which would involve training volunteers and employing staff to support parents and carers.
Kids plans to launch a capital appeal to raise £250,000 throughout 2003, mainly from public fundraising and through targeting major donors for substantial contributions. The charity will also roll out direct mail drives.
It will also try and secure statutory funding and approach grant making bodies and foundations to cover the running costs.
"Respite initiatives are very fragmented in the UK and there are huge gaps in the provision of these care services for disabled kids," said Dr Sam Brier, chief executive at Kids. "We're going to be looking at recruiting new supporters to help us boost our current voluntary income of £1.6 million in order to provide these services that are so badly needed."
Building work on a new centre in Fareham, Hampshire, is already under way, although an extra £100,000 has to be found to cover maintenance costs and equipment.
A grant from the Single Regeneration Budget has covered most of the core building costs, and the local authority social services department will pay for each child who stays at the house.
"We're lucky that Kids is a high-profile organisation which has had lots of support from the public," said Brier. "Hopefully, if we can communicate how important this campaign is and what it will mean to disabled children and their parents, then we'll be able to build more centres like the one in Fareham."