Tag Archives: Face 2 Face

Sixty years of positive change

Post from Alice Maynard – Scope Chair

This has been a tough year for many. Half of all disabled people can’t find work, and of those who are employed, one in two work in low-paid, short-term and part-time roles. In a typical job, a disabled man’s annual earnings are £1,700 less than his non-disabled counterpart. For a disabled woman, the gap is more like £5,000. Disabled people are twice as likely to live below the poverty line as everyone else.

Nearly two thirds of all disabled people report hostility, aggression or name-calling because of their disability. Disabled people are more likely to experience crime than the rest of the country, especially young disabled people, who are eight percent more likely to be victims of crime. The continuing economic situation and government cuts are exacerbating these already substantial problems.

But the fact that times are tough means it’s even more important for Scope to be strong, positive and effective. Over the last year, I believe we have lived up to that. For example, we influenced the Government’s reversal of their decision to abolish the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance for people in residential care. We supported thousands of disabled adults and families with our services. In particular, we secured new funding for our Face 2 Face servicesthat support families in crisis to get through difficult times. Perhaps most importantly, we launched a bold new strategy for making change happen across society over the coming years. Armed with that strategy, I genuinely believe we should be optimistic that, together, we can rise above the current hardships and create a better future.

We have been making positive change happen for 60 years now. I know that many of you have played key roles in getting Scope to where we are today – a bold and ambitious organisation, providing direct support for thousands of people and influencing many more. Thank you for your support over the years and into the future – it really does make a huge difference.

With best wishes for Christmas and New Year,

A double celebration for Cornwall Face 2 Face

Our Face 2 Face parent befriending service in Threemileston, Cornwall has celebrated a decade of working with disabled families by holding a party on Monday 29 October.

It was a double celebration as the service has just landed more than £40,000 from money raised by HealthPerfect, through The Health Lottery, to increase the number of disabled families it reaches in Cornwall.

The Cornwall service is one of 10 Face 2 Face groups that will share a pot of £500,000 from money raised through the Health Lottery.

Our Face 2 Face services give parents the opportunity to speak openly on a one-to-one basis to a volunteer who has also experienced the joys and challenges of bringing up a disabled child.

Find your local Face 2 Face service.

Face 2 Face at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool

With effect from April this year Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool agreed to pilot our Face 2 Face parent befriending service from within the Hospital Trust. Fantastic news and ground-breaking too as we are the first Face 2 Face service for parents of disabled children developed within a hospital setting.

The University of Central Lancashire is evaluating the service to measure the impact of parent-to-parent emotional support and this will provide robust evidence and hopefully help to sustain the project.

Currently there are seven trained parent volunteers and all are parents of disabled children who are accessing the trust. Every parent has successfully completed the training course and together with their lived experience of having a disabled child, is ready to offer free and confidential emotional support to parents whose child has additional or complex needs and is attending Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

If you are a parent/carer of a child with additional or complex needs and are accessing Alder Hey, whether that be as an in patient or outpatient and would like the opportunity to meet  a trained parent volunteer befriender or would like more information about the service you can call Vicky Harris on 07843 467588 or via email at vicky.harris@scope.org.uk

If you are a parent who would like to take part in our next training course due to start at the end of February 2013 we would love to hear from you too.

Face 2 Face: being an online befriender

Berit is mum to two boys and her youngest, Nicholas had meningitis as an infant. This caused injury to his brain and straight after his recovery, he was diagnosed with left-sided hemiplegia. At the age of five, Nicholas started having seizures and has now got extremely severe epilepsy. Because of Nicholas’ high number of daily seizures he also has severe learning difficulties, behaviourial and communication problems.

“The last 10 years has honestly been a rollercoaster of emotions. Nicholas contracted meningitis when he was only five weeks old. He spent quite a long time in intensive care and no-one knew if he was going to survive. At one point, when he was transferred from our local hospital to Kings College Hospital in Londo. We were even told to ‘kiss him goodbye’.

“For the first five years of Nicholas’ life, his brain injury mostly affected his mobility, co-ordination, attention span and speech. In the early stages after his recovery we were just so happy and relieved that he survived, but of course at some point reality kicks in. I felt quite overwhelmed and stressed out with all the medical appointments and visits from different therapists. Although some of the therapists and doctors involved have been very supportive and caring towards us as a family, we as parents never had any specific support.

Parents need befrienders

“Looking back now, I really wished that I had known about Face 2 Face and had had contact with a befriender myself. No one really understands the emotions, the stress, the worrying, the uncertainty and the practical implications having a child with special needs can bring unless you have had similar experiences. No one can understand the total euphoria you feel when your child has reached the slightest (and to some unremarkable) milestone and the strengths and feeling of closeness it can bring to your family unless you have had similar experiences.

“I came across Face 2 Face through searching the Internet. At that time I was doing a Certificate in Counselling and was interested to see what types of support was out there for parents of disabled children. The fact that they were looking for befrienders immediately caught my eye. I contacted the co-ordinator and because we were a group of parents from all over England who had shown our interest, our training as Online Befrienders took place near Birmingham over several weekends.

Face 2 Face training

“I started the Face 2 Face training when Nicholas was about three years old. And that was the first time I got the opportunity to talk to and listen to other parents’ experiences. The other parents were of enormous support to me and I have made fantastic friends for life!”

“I have been befriending online for over six years now. I have befriended parents of children with a wide and different range of disabilities and the length of contact varies from parent to parent. I like being an Online Befriender and I hope that I can give other parents some support through my own experiences. If I could, I would probably have chosen to be befriended online all these years ago. You can make contact in your own time and sometimes it might be easier to express yourself on paper.

“I honestly feel that talking to and listening to other parents of disabled children can be of invaluable support and that is what Face 2 Face is for.”

Find your local Face 2 Face parent befriending scheme.

Launch of Face 2 Face scheme in Solihull

Solihull befrienders

On 9 July Face 2 Face officially launched its service in Solihull. The event was held at the Renewal Family Centre and was a combination of presentations to inform professionals how the service works and what the volunteers can offer local families, as well as moving and inspirational talks by both Solihull and neighbouring Birmingham befrienders.

The event was well attended by over 50 professionals who were keen to hear about what the service could offer the families they support in the borough. Their feedback was extremely positive and has resulted in a number of referrals following the launch.

Face 2 Face Solihull is now up and running, with half of the befrienders  befriending local parents and utilising the skills honed on their 10 weeks of training with a number more referrals being received all the time. All of the befrienders are themselves parents of disabled children and are passionate about being able to provide a unique support that they felt was not there for them when their own children were younger. Solihull Befriender Jan Quinney said: “Professionals are there, but at the end of the day they have not been through what you have. The reason the volunteers are uniquely placed is because they understand what the families are having to deal with.”

The Rt. Hon. Lorely Burt MP attended the event and presented eight newly qualified volunteer parent befrienders with their training certificates. She said that the service would be “wonderful” for Solihull.  She continued by saying, “What I have heard today is just how powerless and frightened people can feel when they get this awful news.”

The event was also a great opportunity to celebrate the partnership between Face 2 Face Solihull and Sainsbury’s Solihull (Poplar Way). Face 2 Face was chosen by the local Sainsbury’s branch to be their charity partner for the next 12 months. The store have been very enthusiastic about Face 2 Face and the service provided and are coming up with lots of ways to not only raise funds for the service but also raise awareness of the service locally to ensure as many parents of disabled children can be supported as possible.

In the first month, activities such as a cake sale, till point collections and an Olympic-themed colouring competition have been held in store. Sainsburys very kindly donated a cake to the launch event and Face 2 Face is very much looking forward to working with them over the next year.

Face 2 Face Solihull is now taking referrals. For more information please contact Co-ordinator Jo Bussey on 0121 444 8584 or by email joanne.bussey@scope.org.uk

My Olympic Torch experience

Guest post from Anne Barnes, Face 2 Face Birmingham

Anne Barnes representing Face 2 Face Birmingham

My bearing experience with the Olympic torch on 30 June has to be one of the most memorable days of my life, mainly due to it being totally surreal and bizarre!

I was honoured to have been nominated to carry the torch, for the voluntary work I do for Face 2 Face in Birmingham. It was great to see a troop of loyal befrienders there on the day with banners and flags, supporting and encouraging me.

On our leg of the relay, Smethwick to Cannon Hill Park (Via Birmingham City Centre) we were surprised to find that we had Sir Cliff Richard joining us! He was great, really friendly and generous with his time.

The actual run/walk of 490 yards seemed to fly past and was over too soon. I felt immensely proud and very emotional, it really is a “once in a lifetime” experience and I felt very lucky to have been picked to do this.


Tesco Mum of the Year

Guest post from Sharon Sambrook Face 2 Face Co-ordinator for Sandwell and Dudley

Unbeknown to me when I was shopping in Tesco last summer my son Ben picked up a Tesco Mum of the Year leaflet, nominated me and I won out of over 4,000 entries nationwide!!!

There were 8 categories and I won ‘Most Charitable Mum’ for the fundraising I have done following Ben’s diagnosis with an aggressive malignant brain tumour aged only 7. At that time I realised that brain tumour research was extremely underfunded and that treatments for Ben’s tumour type hadn’t moved forward in 20 years and so my fundraising began in attempt to change this staggering fact. To date I have raised over £90,000 and funded three research projects. I have also volunteered with various brain tumour charities and now I am the Face 2 Face Co-ordinator for Sandwell and Dudley supporting parents of disabled children.

The award ceremony took place at The Waldorf Hotel in London on Sunday 11th March and was a star-studded event, very different to my real life! Many celebrities attended including Pixie Lott, Amy Childs and Sinitta with the event being hosted by Fiona Phillips.

After a champagne reception and a three-course lunch, the awards were given out with a short film being shown for each of us Mums. The place was in tears with each story having an impact on everyone in the room and each of us getting a standing ovation when it was our turn to take the stage. My award was presented to me by Arlene Phillips OBE.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the next day we were taken to No. 10 Downing Street and had tea and biscuits with the Prime Minister David Cameron and I even got chance to tell him about Face 2 Face!