A year of thrashing milestones, but the best is still to come
Blog post by CEO and Director Annaliese Boucher
“Looking back over the past twelve months, I am incredibly proud of what Sen Talk has been able to achieve in such a short time and the impact that the service has made on some of the most vulnerable children and young people and their families”.
In 2016, I had an ambitious idea to start a peer support group for parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and could not have imagined how pivotal that image would be in shaping the service that exists today, meeting both the needs of the family and the child. Sen Talk is aimed specifically at children with less ‘visible’ or hidden disabilities such as autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD) especially those attending mainstream education settings. Our cohort of children and young people are too often overlooked and misunderstood due to their potential academic capabilities, verbal capabilities, which often mask the true extent of their difficulties.
Both ASC and ADHD conditions will entail social communication differences, making it difficult for individuals to relate to peers and understanding the social world. This unfortunately, can sometimes lead to challenging behaviour, sometimes resulting in social exclusion and impacting the child or young person’s social and emotional well-being.
This year, we are especially pleased with all our accomplishments, and the biggest testament to our success has been our rapid growth in registrations. However, this is somewhat bittersweet because it continues to illustrate the needs for the inclusion of disabled children and support for the entire family.
Other successes this year include the launch and delivery of our pilot parent counselling project, kindly funded by the Wandsworth Clinical Commission Group (CCG) through their Community Grant Scheme, which has helped parents access a non-judgmental reflective space to receive person centered counselling, greatly received and recognised by some parents as the ‘missing link’ in support for families pre and post diagnosis.
We have also been able to increase our specific targeted support this year, focussing on harder to reach families, including children at risk of exclusion and work within the black and ethnic minorities communities (BME) in partnership with local charities and organisations to tackle division in the community, and bring about long-lasting social change.
“As a rapidly growing organisation we are more than aware of the increasing need for specialist provision and services for children and young people with SEND and are dedicated to improving social and emotional health for children and young people on the autistic spectrum, and or with social communication differences and attention deficit disorders who are of school age”
Further to the addition of new projects, we have been pleased to have been able to offer our families another round of respite breaks and trips this year, which were fully accessible opportunities for children and young people, parents and carers and siblings through our Awards for All grant funded by the Lottery Community Fund. We have also been delighted to have been able to continue our regular children’s activities in weekly Brick Club (Lego®-based therapy) and our Communicate Youth Club, both aimed at building social and emotional skills and funded through Children in Need.
We are rightly so, incredibly proud of all our achievements, which really would not have been possible without the continued support of our families, children and young people, the dedicated Sen Talk staff team, and the phenomenal dedication of our volunteers who facilitate all our children’s activities.
We thank you all and look forward to another year of thrashing milestones in 2020!