Aiming High Disability Project (2015)
The aim of Medway Council’s Aiming High for Disabled Children’s initiatives is to identify disabled children and young people, and break down the barriers which prevent them from accessing supervised childcare and out of school activities.
In 2014, the Medway Ethnic Minority Forum’s Aiming High Short Breaks and Befriending project entered its fourth successful year, providing residential breaks for BAME families with disabled children, and 1:1 befriending service for parent carers and their children. As part of Short Breaks, in March 2015, 10 families went to a 2-night residential trip to Butlins, Bognor Regis. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Aleena on her meticulous planning, and one of MEMF directors, Jose Stephen for volunteering to accompany the families on the trip.
The benefits and outcomes of this short breaks project to the families who access our service are manifold. In the feedback form, parents stated how much their children enjoy the opportunity to have these trips away every year as, due to financial reason, they rarely get a chance to go away on holiday together.
“These breaks give us confidence and chance to meet other families in similar situations... thank you to the funders and to the organisers for the beautiful memories we will cherish forever”
This scheme provides a mechanism by which disabled children are able to interact with their peers and make friends in a non-judgemental environment. This improves their confidence, as year on year they can go on the trips and see their friends again. In terms of parent/carers, it gives them a chance to interact with other parents who are in similar situation. Building relationships with people who can understand and empathise with your situation is a key way in which the Short Breaks scheme has given the parent/carers more confidence. The scheme contributes further towards mental wellbeing of the parent/carers and children. The special needs children and their siblings are able to bond together. Often non-disabled siblings can miss out on attention or help at home because the disabled child’s needs are often more urgent.
The 1:1 Befriending service provided BAME families with disabled children a pathway to be better informed, empowered and fully aware of the choice of services available to them. We aimed to tailor the befriending service to benefit our members’ specific needs and situations. Some clients preferred to be contacted solely by phone and email, while others felt they needed further support, and preferred a home visit so that their children were involved in the befriending service as well. The families have benefitted immensely from signposting service, being provided a source of support and empathy in difficult times, and the chance to sit down and talk about their concerns openly.
The project has enabled MEMF to gain the trust and confidence of these BAME families as they felt valued, heard and supported. As an added value, the project has resulted in improved capability training for some mothers/carers, as they have taken part in parenting classes, and AGORA project undertaking skills training to become economically active.
We at MEMF would like to sincerely thank the Children and Adults team, Medway Council, for helping us to deliver this service to those who need it most. We extend our thanks to MEMF Directors, and the families for their cooperation and contribution towards the project’s success
A welcome change and hopefully a much needed relaxation to those families, who are surely struggling in their day to day life. And I commend those who worked behind the project to facilitate this service to these families