This year has been one of adaptation and change for everyone across the world. No one knew that we would be self isolating for such a long time, and that some children would end up missing 6 months of education. Within this situation that has affected all of us, we are now learning that the impact on families of children with SEND is disproportionately high. National research found that mental health had declined in 70-80% of families with children with SEND, and learning and communication of children with SEND had suffered in 86% of families. From our own research at Dingley’s Promise, it seems that the higher the needs, the more children have suffered during lockdown. This matches with national figures too – meaning that our most vulnerable children have suffered the most during lockdown.
All of this has led us to making a big decision for Dingley’s Promise; we are going to offer remote support throughout the summer holidays for families of young children with SEND. Our Family Support Workers (and some of our Early Years Practitioners) will be on hand to give advice and support, to link up children and parents/carers with other families whose children are in the same situation, and to simply listen and reassure families when they are struggling.
This is the first time Dingley’s Promise has offered ongoing support through the holidays, but in light of the huge challenges our families are experiencing, including continued isolation, we are committed to supporting them in any way we can. We recognise that some families are already at breaking point, and the long holidays may be too much for some of them. Our Double Matched Day appeal is therefore vital.
One family in West Berkshire whose daughter attends our Centre told us what lockdown has been like for them:
‘It’s hard. We have seen a huge and detrimental change in our daughter’s behaviour, and it is having a massive negative impact on us as a family. I am seeking support and advice, and the main place I am getting that from is Dingley’s Promise. We have had no other appointments with other service providers or professionals involved in our life, and very little contact from other providers which is quite hard. I’m here at home with three children on my own, so for me to see the staff in the Zoom sessions is really helpful. They understand our situation, so when I say what has been happening they understand because they know my daughter.
We are not sure what information my daughter retains, but I know that she has recognised her key worker [during Zoom sessions], which is amazing in our situation. For some people who don’t have children with SEND they would think that’s not much, but for us that is huge! To feel there is some progress in this situation where we have felt so very low and sad and perhaps not achieving as many things as we’d like to… is amazing and it just means so much to us.
We also received a wonderful delivery from Dingley’s Promise in the post! It was a box of sensory toys, which just lifted me so much because my daughter loves them and they are similar to toys that she plays with at Dingley’s Promise. It really helped in what has been a really dark period in our life.”
For this family, the lockdown will continue until at least September due to the health of their child. They said “we hope to receive support during the very long summer holidays – that would be fantastic.”
This Friday we have the very real chance that we can make sure this family, and all of our West Berkshire families, get the support they need this summer. We are aiming to raise £5000, which will be tripled by the Greenham Trust to become £15,000!
Please, if you have any money you can spare, make a donation via the Good Exchange on the 24th of July and help us to reach our goal to ensure that no family is forgotten over the long summer holidays. Thank you.
– Catherine McLeod MBE, CEO of Dingley’s Promise