‘Where were you when my child was 3?’ Disabled children’s charity launches new project

A SAFFRON Walden based national charity has announced a major initiative to help the parents of disabled children.

Fledglings exists to relieve the needs of families affected by disability, particularly children, their families, and carers. They do this by providing advice and searching for, testing, and supplying affordable products.

A project called, Where Were You When My Child Was 3? was launched this May which will allow parents to influence the Fledglings’ service and product range, and help the charity reach more schools and interest groups in the area.

Founder and trustee, Ruth Lingard, said: “Until they discovered Fledglings many parents have struggled for years to find answers to problems which we could have solved.

“The name of the project was suggested by a parent who did not discover Fledglings until her son was 10-years-old. She felt that she had struggled unnecessarily because she was unaware of our service.”

The charity is inviting the parents of disabled children from Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Suffolk to attend a series of parent group meetings at which they will have the opportunity to influence the service and the development of its products.

“In my experience, when parents can feel and touch the products and discuss them with other parents, they have more of an opportunity to suggest improvements and advise us on new developments,” added Mrs Lingard.

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“Over the years many of our products, which have subsequently changed the lives of countless children with special needs, have been developed through parent feedback.

“We also hope that those involved with our parent group, through their contact with schools, carers, early years groups, other parent groups and other charities, will help make more parents of children with special needs aware of Fledglings and how we can help their child.”

The project has received funding support from the Big Lottery through an ‘Awards for All’ grant and the funding will be used to equip a new meeting room at the charity’s HQ just outside Saffron Walden.

Fledglings recently appointed a new director, Gerry Reilly, who said: “We currently assist up to 13,000 families in England annually, however, this is a very small percentage of the estimated 500,000 families caring for a disabled child.

“This project will help us, through regular contact with our parent group, to develop and expand our service, particularly in the four counties. We are very grateful to the Big Lottery for their support.”

The charity would like to hear from the parents of disabled children who would like to become part of the parent group. Fledglings will be able to refund parking costs and may be able to help with travel costs, depending on circumstances. Interested parents should contact Mrs Lingard on 0845 458 1124 or by e-mail at ruth@fledglings.org.uk

For more information about Fledglings, visit fledglings.org.uk.