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Meet our families:

Memmee and Micah are siblings from Reading who live with their mum, Neema, and their little sister. They both have autism and learning difficulties.

 

  Read Memmee and Micah's story

Tia sustained a brain injury before birth, and has cerebral palsy which limits her physically and means she uses a wheelchair, she is non-verbal and tube fed.

 

  Read Tia's story

Saichon loves listening to music, watching cartoons on her iPad, and going to the park, especially going on the swings. Family Fund helped with a set of swings for the garden.

 

  Read Saichon's story

Eilidh loves music, spending time outdoors and anything electronic. She has autism and a learning disability, she can find busy, noisy environments overwhelming and stressful.

 

  Read Eilidh's story


Families tell us every day about the different challenges they face in raising their children. For many, we can put them in touch with organisations who already specialise in such help. But there are some areas where we have the knowledge and the opportunity to provide practical help and support alongside our grants.

Sleep Support

 

With information on sleep issues, especially for disabled children, not always widely available, Tired Out, our online sleep support hub, remains dedicated to providing information and advice on sleep support for families raising disabled children. Sadly, the need for support for families experiencing difficulties with sleep is still not widely recognised and we remain compelled as an organisation to ensure the voice of families we help is included in the evidence base to build the case for improved provision of sleep support. Tired Out supports this aim and, in addition, we are working in partnership with others to capture what families tell us about their everyday needs and feed this into ways in which support can be designed.

 

If you have questions about sleep or how your organisation could get involved, please email tiredout@familyfund.org.uk

“Thank you so much for recognising this issue in such a respectful way, it is so important that these kinds of effects on family life are heard and believed in a respectful and constructive manner”

(Anonymous Tired Out user)

Digital Skills

 

It is estimated that 7.8 million people in the UK do not use the internet at all, and a further 7.4 million are limited users, representing around 23% of the population. This group predominantly comprises those classed as disadvantaged, including both those on low incomes and disabled people. With this in mind, it is likely that many of those who obtain tablets through Family Fund fall on the wrong side of the ‘digital divide’.

 

Digital devices can make a difference to accessibility in everyday life for disabled children and young people, thanks to the range of apps and accessibility features that come as standard with many touch-screen devices. They can also support learning and development in ways more traditional means cannot. This is why we developed our Digital Skills Programme.

 

Through the programme, training is offered either one-to-one in people’s homes or through small group workshops across the UK. Training is bespoke to the specific need of each individual family and focuses on aspects of the device that are relevant to their lives.

 

During 2017/18, almost 300 people received face-to-face training through the programme. Family Fund also offer some telephone support and signposting to alternative resources where face-to-face training is not appropriate or possible.

 

The programme continues to be evaluated through surveys completed by families who take part in the training.  Feedback continues to be positive, showing marked increases in digital confidence and understanding. A more detailed evaluation of families surveyed between January and October 2017 is presented in our Building Digital Confidence report.

 

If you're interested in finding out more about our digital inclusion work and how you could support it, email digitalskills@familyfund.org.uk

Jennifer’s daughter attends a special school in Hampshire, and signed up to Family Fund’s iPad workshop which was organised by the school. Jennifer and her daughter use their iPad daily, but Jennifer didn’t feel she was a very confident tablet user. While she knew how to do lots of things with her iPad, she was concerned about her daughter using the iPad on her own and wasn’t sure about applying the accessibility settings or parental controls. Jennifer definitely felt she wasn’t using her iPad to its full potential and wanted to know more about ensuring her child was safe online.

During the training, Jennifer learned how to manage her daughter’s access to different websites. “Restricting access has meant [my child] is using more of the educational websites and it is already helping with her learning and behaviour. I feel safer knowing she won't be able to see anything inappropriate with the restrictions in place.” Jennifer told us and added, “My child is learning more from her iPad as I have restrictions in place now. I feel happier about her using the iPad knowing it is safer for her now. I still keep a check on her but feel happier with the changes in place since the training.”

Jennifer found the training to be very useful and informative and the experience had improved her digital confidence. In addition, knowing how to apply restrictions means that she can allow her daughter more independence when using the device. As she explained, “I feel more confident in using my tablet, and the training has made a positive difference to my life and my child’s life. I am more happy to let my child use the tablet independently.”

Information, Advice and Support


Increasingly, as part of our engagement with families, we have identified a range of issues on which families regularly seek further information, advice and support (IAS), often in areas relating to their own family needs and day-to-day challenges. This may be due to families not being well-informed of what support they are entitled to, with varying accounts from families of how proactive local services are in providing information on national and local support.

 

Although information is now provided by Local Authorities in England through the Local Offer, a survey we conducted during May 2018 found that 56% of eligible families had not heard of the Local Offer. With thousands of families contacting us every week, we were keen to explore ways in which we could help families with relevant IAS.

 

During 2017, we conducted a small pilot project with the charity Contact to deliver information, advice and support to families through our First Contact Team (FCT). The pilot was a great source of learning for Family Fund and the partnership with Contact continues to support our delivery of IAS. From the pilot evaluation, we learnt about the volume, nature and type of requests received from families. Most significantly, it became apparent that, for families calling FCT, the prevalent issues include the need for financial support, as well as the difficulties families face with multiple routes to accessing help.

 

In addition to the pilot, FCT also successfully delivered another year of a joint project with Good Things Foundation for HMRC, helping families to access the disabled child element of Child Tax Credits, a benefit that could be worth up to £60 per week. We were able to help 349 people, who were otherwise unaware that they might be entitled to this. Further IAS support with Child Tax Credits was provided to another 447 families through FCT.

 

During the rest of the year, we began to look at how to provide more tailored support and signposting on benefit entitlement and searching for other financial support. We have been able to provide this thanks to working in partnership with organisations such as Turn2Us and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to use their search tools and data when responding to family requests. With excellent initial feedback, we will be further developing this service, including a fuller evaluation of its value to families in the coming year.

“It was such a relief to get the stress of money off my mind and it came just at the right time. If we hadn’t been told about the extra tax credits I wouldn’t have checked.”

Nita, Middlesex (mum to Joel, 16, who has autism).

Families helped by services

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Email us: info@familyfund.org.uk

Call us: 01904 550055

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www.familyfund.org.uk

The Family Fund Trust for Families with Severely Disabled Children. Private company limited by guarantee. Incorporated in England and Wales. Registration no. 3166627. Registered charity no. 1053866. Scottish charity no. SC040810.

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