Thanks to our amazing team of befrienders, we've been able to come alongside parents of children with additional needs and support them through the ups and downs of family life

Here Nicola Watson, our Additional Needs Support Coordinator, shares why the work they do is so vital and how you might just be the perfect person to join their team.

Raising a child with additional needs (whether physical, mental, emotional, social or a heady cocktail of all of these) is exhausting.

At some point, maybe at birth, or at school, in a consultant’s office, or a doctor’s surgery, a parent is thrust unwillingly into a whole new world. In an instant, hopes never acknowledged will be dashed, ugly fears ignited and the future questioned. Life will never be the same.

It happened to me in an accident and emergency department when a paediatric specialist declared, ‘This child is too floppy.’ We were referred to the Child Development Centre and so our journey began. I count it a blessing that my daughter’s additional needs unfolded gradually as each developmental milestone was missed, or more correctly delayed. Other parents are hit full in the face with a diagnosis that sends them reeling. Some parents battle for years to get the diagnosis their child needs, believing that this ‘official label’ will open doors to all kinds of support. Almost immediately they discover that it is just that – a diagnosis. Getting the right support will require a whole new set of armour for a whole new set of battles.

I want to pay tribute to parents who keep going, who carry on, who take on physical challenges, go without sleep, attend endless appointments, manage to sound assertive when actually they are angry, are patient when simple things take forever and listen carefully and respectfully to ‘experts’ who know less about their child’s condition than they do. I want to honour parents like that – parents like you. If you recognise yourself in any of the descriptions above, I congratulate you on having got this far. Well done!

Behind every Paralympian, disabled actor, deaf dancer, palsied comedian and wheelchair-using presenter is a parent or champion who did not and does not give up.

Care for the Family’s Additional Needs Telephone Befriending service exists to support parents. We are parents who ‘get it’: to use the vernacular, we’ve ‘been there, done that and got the T shirt’, and that’s why we can help others. Right now, we need to expand our team of volunteers as requests for help are exceeding our capacity to offer support. If you are a Christian parent of a child or young adult with additional needs and you would like to help others with a similar story to your own, then please do get in touch. We offer free training, supervision and support, and best of all you will be joining a team of remarkable, inspirational, resilient, dedicated overcomers … just like yourself.

Nicola Watson

To find out more about joining our team of befrienders please get in touch with Nicola, our Additional Needs Support Coordinator, at nicola.watson@cff.org.uk or 07786 084871. 

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At Care for the Family we support couples, parents and those who have been bereaved. If you would be able to make a one off donation to support our work, we would be very grateful. Thank you.

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