Charity Number 1187246
Hidden Needs Trust pre-Christmas Update
cont. from home page:
So, what have I been doing since the initial lock down? Well, certainly not twiddling my thumbs! As many families were doing, I was multitasking the home schooling…three children at home including one with SEN, one doing A levels and SAT Studies [he is on a programme to get a Sports Scholarship to the USA], and one in Year 8…, supporting my other two sons who are no longer in the family nest, and wondering how we were all going to get through this weird time. I suddenly became full time carer, teacher, counsellor, and sole shopper to ensure the children were safe in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Suddenly, no more tutoring, the thought of opening a therapy practice went out of the window, and a challenge to rethink how HNT was going to survive.
However, HNT has worked tirelessly throughout the year. I could not fundraise but instead could give boxloads of [quarantined!] goods to the families in need. I sourced as many donated goods as I could through every open avenue that was safe, ending up with a barn, garage and spare room filled to the brim. Not only was it possible to be in touch with wonderful people very willing to donate goods, but then to find families and young people who desperately needed these for numerous reasons.
It was so lovely to hear excited voices from within the house when I knocked on the family doors from the SEN children/young people as they knew a parcel was being left on the doorstep.
It has also been possible to supply two families with virtually everything a new born needs and up to the age of 1, furniture and mowers to families moving into larger premises, white goods when old ones have perished and much much more.
However, during my interactions with families I realised that lockdown for so many had almost broken them in different ways.
For many families, at least one of the family could no longer work, having to take on a caring role full time for their SEN young people/children and their siblings. This meant lack of earnings, some being furloughed, and others losing jobs through redundancy. The financial pressures have been immense for many…and then there was, on top of that, worrying health issues. Not only did they have to remain safe from Covid-19 but they also faced other health problems such as depression, loneliness, and social isolation. Families struggling with isolation felt that this was worse than any of the other issues that they faced.
For the children and young people with additional needs…what a turmoil for them. Suddenly they were at home twenty four hours a day for weeks on end. They did not fully understand why their whole world had been turned upside down…no routines, no consistency, no friends or teachers to guide them through the day, unable to go out and explore the surroundings, often unable to cope with this emotional upheaval and often unable to communicate their unrest. Unsurprisingly, many of these children and young people became more emotionally volatile or withdrawn, difficult behaviour patterns were exacerbated and mental health issues started to surface.
Siblings too struggled…less time and attention by parents/carers than they needed due to the excessive time required to stabilise their SEN brothers/sisters, the parents/carers exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally from the various demands put upon them.
So, my life was easy compared to many, and it has been a real pleasure in talking to families and determining exactly what help is actually required…not just through the lockdown but in general. It is not just about fundraising and giving out money but ensuring the lives of all can be made easier in the future. I had no idea for example that parents/carers often did not know anything about allowances that they could receive, or information about housing and careers for their young people when they can leave home and become independent, or how to fight against the odds in an appeal court for appropriate educational and health provisions, or where to find support for particular health issues.
Once HNT can get fundraising again I will be able to put on all the events and my mad physical challenges planned but one thing that I will also be doing is still visiting families, talking to them about their needs and the hurdles they are facing, finding other organisations who can help and advise, and ensuring that I get local MPs and County Councillors listening. Things have to change on many scales so that children and young people with additional needs get what they so rightly deserve.
Changes required are often tiny but will make such a huge difference to people’s lives. If you would like to come on board and help move HNT forwards in the years to come please get in touch. It may be that you have expertise in an area such as Careers or Housing for young adults with learning difficulties. It may be that you have been a family with SEN children and young people and can be of a support regularly to someone who has been recently diagnosed with a child with autism.
You will see there is a link at the top to a list of other organisations that I have linked in with and who potentially may be of support to you. If you are struggling then shout as I may very well be able to point you in the right direction to someone that has the answers. The list of other charities and organisations that are available to support will expand once the website is fully updated.
From December 1st, carers/families with SEN children and young people under the age of 25, young adults with Learning Difficulties under the age of 25, and the specialist educational providers in Dorset and Somerset can all apply for grants from HNT…do see the information under Grants which explains the process and requirements.
But now…have a WONDERFUL Christmas in whatever way you can. Keep safe, stay smiling,