Sat. May 28th, 2022


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Mum sets up charity for parents of kids with special needs

4 min read

The parents and carers who look after children with special needs often face enormous challenges and pressures – but money raised through The Health Lottery was supporting them in their vital role.

Among those who have benefited is Parenting Special Children (PSC), a small charity that helps families with youngsters facing a range of conditions, including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. PSC, a parent-led charity run by those whose children have special needs, was given a boost with a grant of over £40,000 from People’s Health Trust with money raised through The Health Lottery.

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These funds are making life better for local communities as PSC has been able to extend its support to parents and carers of children with special needs: as well as a helpline, social get-togethers and advice on health and schools, there are now peer support groups to combat isolation, lift parents’ mental wellbeing – and even save lives when they get desperate.

As PSC founder Ruth Pearse knows, this Berkshire-based charity changes lives. “I have a daughter, now 22, who was diagnosed with global developmental delay at 18 months,” she says.

“We went to a paediatrician and came out of that appointment with a very different view of what life was going to bring and there was no one to talk to. It was a whole new world to navigate and I didn’t want other families to go through the isolation I was experiencing along with the different challenges of parenting."

PSC helpline and support groups manager Charlie Taylor explains how the charity made a difference to her: “I started by doing one of the PSC workshops, and it was nice to feel I was in a safe place and that I could say things without people judging me.”

PSC is one of 3,200 grassroots projects throughout Britain helped with funding from money raised through The Health Lottery. When you buy a ticket you’re helping to raise funds for good causes just like PSC, and of course you’re in with a chance of winning a cash prize – £157 million has been won so far, with £120 million raised.

Changing lives

The funding has allowed PSC and its support groups to be there for hard-pressed parents. “My community support groups are my babies and I will do anything to support people because they’re all fantastic, brave parents,” says Charlie.

“We’ve done bingo nights and quizzes and when we’re able to, we’ll bring everyone together for family fun days, which we wouldn’t have been able to do without that funding.

"We’ve changed people’s lives."

Ruth reveals how PSC colleagues have saved parents in desperate straits: “Charlie and Denise, who run the groups, have done a phenomenal job – when families were in the depths of crisis, they were the only ones listening.

“One parent came to a support group and opened up, and Charlie and Denise supported her throughout the night, enabling her to have a team around her the next day to save her life – and that’s no exaggeration.”

‘Virus triggered lots of issues’

“My 11-year-old son has OCD, and the pandemic heightened his anxiety about germs – he’s wiping and cleaning everything,” says PSC helpline and support groups manager Charlie Taylor. “One moment we’re saying: ‘It’s OK, don’t worry’ but we’re all masked up and cleaning constantly.

“So I can understand why we’ve seen a massive surge in demand on the PSC helpline because Covid has triggered lots of issues, and when we set up the support groups they took off quickly. Parents felt safe and secure.

“The one thing that has got them through the week was coming together in a group, spilling out their thoughts and not feel judged. Isolation is huge, so it’s important to have the support groups as a safe place for parents.”

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