It can be extremely challenging caring for a child with additional needs. One parent writes movingly: "Raising a child with special needs can be both challenging and rewarding, often within the same day (or even hour!). Our emotions as special needs parents are complicated. We can simultaneously feel like giving up and also be ready to go to the ends of the earth for our child. We experience high highs and low lows. We fight battles for our child to get them services, appointments, support, understanding, and acceptance. We often fail and feel hopeless. Sometimes the smallest bit of progress sparks intense pride and joy. There is no textbook for parenting a child with special needs. We navigate this journey without clear instructions. Special needs parent isolation is very real and very debilitating. Bottom line is we need each other. We need help. We need support. It takes a community, and special needs parents especially need that community effort to prevent isolation, overwhelm and burnout.”
For 36 years, Dingley's Promise has been supporting the families of children attending our centres across Berkshire - helping them to come to terms with their child’s disability, build a positive relationship with them, support their development and feel confident about managing their care and support needs. And we're doing well! 94% of our families feel less isolated as a result of our support. 97% feel more confident supporting their child and home. And 92% feel more positive about the future.
“Since our son started attending Dingley, we have learnt how to support him, by sharing information with staff and asking for advice. This has brought us all together as a family and now we are able to do things together.”
But we want to do more! We want to build on our existing Family Support Work to reach more families - families we're not yet reaching, families from hard-to-reach communities or who live in smaller more rural villages.
Paula is our Family Support Worker covering West Berkshire and the surrounding areas.
She knows the problem of isolation very well: "Families often feel so alone, isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. They long to find others who can relate, and who can reassure them they're not alone."
With your support and that of your Aviva colleagues, we plan to:
Set up local support groups where families can get together, close to where they live, for friendship and support
Establish an online support group, to provide a place where people can turn 24/7 for information, advice, support and friendship
Double the number of coffee mornings, stay & play sessions, family workshops and one-to-one support that we provide.
"I recently ran a session for Dads - everyone had a great time and the Dads commented on how good it was to meet other fathers in the same boat. There's such a need out there. Imagine if you're the only family in your village with a special needs child. Resources and groups are often to be found in the larger towns and cities, so you'd have to go some distance to meet other families and to get support. It can often be too much - the daily physical and emotional demands of being a special needs parents can often make it simply easier to stay at home. We want to change that with your help!"