Counselling services for families caring for children with additional needs.

Funding awarded: £18,322

Funding was awarded to for the TIme2Connect project to support 35 Stratford town families and carers of children and young people with complex and profound additional needs. Counselling offers a safe, impartial and confidential environment to explore the complex feelings and challenges that raising a child/young person with additional needs can bring day to day. The Time2Connect initiative has been actively led by the families living in Stratford who have children/young people with complex, profound, autistic and life limited disabilities.

Very sadly, the pandemic has created further additional pressures to their already stressful lives such as school refusal, leading to high levels of distress for these families. The cost of living crisis has also had a negative impact and has caused additional isolation and loneliness.  

The project aspires to build better mental health and prevent parental burnout. Time2Connect offers counselling for parents, children with additional needs and their siblings. The counsellor Nilam Gill, specialises in disability and has in-depth-knowledge of the adversity these families face on a daily basis. In addition to this, the project also offers a 9 weekly Wellbeing Sessions for 3.5hrs where parents can meet like-minded others, so they are able to build a new support network, where they are able to access emotional and practical support, as well as increase their resilience.

It is also a valuable opportunity to learn and share new coping mechanisms so they are better equipped to support their children to reach their full potential in life. The sessions enable parents to create new community friendships and to be introduced to local professionals offering a variety of therapies to improve Mental Wellbeing, such as Meditation and Yoga. Group members will sustain the group at the end of the sessions. They will continue to shape and grow the group to meet current needs and include parents who have accessed the counselling. 

Time2Connects aims to create new opportunities for these families to feel more connected to their community and enables them to become more resourceful in dealing with their high challenges and the needs of their children/young people. It allows them to further take the initiative to support one another, enabling new friendships to flourish and involve others in their community who may help them reduce their stresses. Very importantly the project keeps families together by equipping them to prevent or better able to deal with a crisis, should one arise. These factors are vitally needed so parents can actively enable their children/young people reach their full aspirations and goals.

Nilam allowed me to recognise that I am doing my very best for my 8yr old son who has autism and that it is ok and necessary to have time to myself, without feeling guilty. The counselling sessions assisted me to remember to put my own oxygen mask on, so I could support my son with his extreme difficulties he is experiencing particularly at school.

I have learnt coping mechanisms to help me feel more grounded which my son has adopted too. The coping mechanisms has supported me to reduce my anxiety which was preventing me from speaking out to get my son’s need met. I now feel more confident and empowered to ask what my son requires, to support his learning and enjoy some aspects of school life. I know if I am having a bad day, it will pass and I am able to focus on other things instead of dwelling on feeling bad, which was becoming a vicious and dangerous cycle.    

Thanks so much Nilam, for letting me know my voice is essential and strong and I can advocate for my boy, so his needs can be met accordingly.

Parent accessing counselling