Never giving up: Staff open up about caring for vulnerable children during the pandemic

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kerry Swain:

People caring for the most vulnerable in society are warning that while the country celebrates emerging from lockdown, for them life is not changing and severe restrictions remain in place.

Rose Road in Southampton has remained open throughout the pandemic, offering respite to hundreds of severely disabled children and young adults. It says many families are in crisis because so many support services have closed.

The charity has released powerful photographs showing the physical and mental toll that the past year has had on staff. 

Staff at Rose Road have released images of their time during the pandemic.

Since April 2020, the charity has provided 3,500 nights of respite care at its centre, with the number of families contacting its helpline nearly doubling.

CEO Juno Hollyhock says lockdown and the loss of support services elsewhere has left some parents desperate.

Juno says: "One Saturday evening at nine 'o' clock a parent turned up on our doorstep in floods of tears just begging for a night's respite. She was absolutely at the end of her tether.

"We saw a lot of families in crisis and even Ofsted have acknowledged that our role over the last year has probably been to keep families together that otherwise would have fallen apart."

Rose Road has been caring for profoundly disabled children and young adults for nearly 70 years. 

13-year-old Advay Credit: ITV News Meridian

13-year-old Advay is unable to speak, with sometimes challenging behaviour. His mother Anchal says Rose Road provides her with a chance to recharge in between caring for him.

Anchal says: "You're looking after a baby for the rest of your life. Having Rose Road here, taking my younger one for his activities and just giving us a break so we can rejuvenate ourselves and care for him better this was like a lifeline for us."

Rose Road have been taking Covid tests three times a week. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Restrictions may be easing in the outside world but not at Rose Road, with staff having to take Covid tests three times a week. 

They will have to wear more PPE, not less, with goggles to shield the eyes being introduced.

Despite the challenges, staff at Rose Road say they won't give up providing that lifeline for families.

Rose Road needs to find half a million pounds a year but with fund raising events cancelled, even the loss of collection boxes in shops the charity needs help to keep its doors open to the most vulnerable children.