With more and more children being diagnosed with a learning disability and/or autism, it is extremely important that the community adapts to cater for the needs of these families. There were no early intervention Parent and Toddler Groups in the area, and we wanted to take action to improve the lives of these small children and their parents.
The aim of the project was to create an early intervention parent and toddler group with a focus on improving access to services for local families and help build a support network amongst families who have a child with a learning disability and/or autism. We achieved the aims and objectives of this project with great success, improving connections, helping build relationships, improving mental health, and creating equal opportunities in the community. Not only has the project been hugely successful for parents/carers, but the children in attendance have improved their social, emotional, physical, and intellectual developmental areas.
The elevate project has helped us massively to support families who have a child with a learning disability, to gain confidence in addressing health inequalities, and helped to improve our connections with other organisations. The project has helped us to bridge the huge gap in early intervention services for families that have a child with a learning disability and/or autism. It helped us to create a space for these families to improve their mental health and help their children reach their full potential. Our sessions are fully booked every week, with the need for potentially a third session to help keep up with demand. We are so thankful to the Elevate programme for helping improve the lives of children with learning disabilities in our community. We have helped empower families during our project and give them the confidence to speak up and have their voices heard. Our children weren't being represented in the community before now and our services have been a huge lifeline for families, allowing them to stand up in their community and fight for a better future for our children.
Mentoring support has helped me as Project manager of The Be Kind Project to feel more confident and competent in my role. It has supported me to be adaptable where necessary and helped motivate me to reach the programmes aims and objectives. It allowed me to feel safe knowing there was support at the other end of the phone should I need it. I have made great connections made with our mentor County Down Rural Community Network and with the other mentees in my group. Inspiring Yarns are facilitating for our Carer Support coffee mornings, and I have enjoyed meeting Jam 'n' Ire and gave them access to our premises for their monthly meeting. We have supported each other during the launch of our programmes and shared funding opportunities and useful information with one another.
By taking part in Elevate Training I learnt of the vast health inequalities that affect rural communities. Following the training, I followed up with the Board of Trustees on what I had learnt and had a separate meeting with volunteers/facilitators to discuss. I have used the learning from the training to help spread awareness on the health inequalities our community faces, along with those who live in rural areas. This led to a discussion with families who use our service, and discussions on health inequalities we have faced with our children who have a learning disability and/or autism. It has given me confidence to speak up and discuss health inequalities and helped me believe that through collective action we can make a change to these inequalities. I learnt from discussions with the families who use our services that families in rural areas are lacking access to important early intervention support for their child with a learning disability, we as a charity plan to take action and are searching for a way to make our services easier to access including via zoom.
We have helped families to understand their rights, along with their child's rights to education and helped them to gain access to important support from the trust such as speech and language etc. We have taken a stand in the community to create an inclusive stay & play environment representative of children with learning disabilities and/or autism. We hope to continue this work in the future.
"The Elevate Project has helped my charity to change the lives of children with learning disabilities and their families. Elevate has helped us to create equal opportunities in the community for our children, improve access to early intervention support, and improve mental health and wellbeing amongst parents going through a diagnosis for their child. Without Elevate we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the huge amount of success for this project we have, we are so grateful to elevate for supporting our charity and create a huge difference to help children with learning disabilities reach their full potential. Thank You!"
Hannah Simpson, Project Manager, The Be Kind Project