Published on
31 May 2019

Young people and their parents help create a service that’s just right for them

Children, young people and parents have been celebrating the success of a new disability service which they helped design so it’s just right for their needs.

Margaret Heler, 20, pictured at an ACT celebration event

The Barnardo’s Achieving Change Together Project is a partnership between the children’s charity, Blaenau Gwent Social Services and the families themselves.

Giving the families a strong voice in the designing of the service has been crucial to its success and parents say they are delighted with the result. Children and young people can attend a wide range of courses including building independence, healthy relationships and music while also socialising and making friends in a fun environment.

Meanwhile their parents are offered individual support to recognise their strengths, build their own resilience and learn to manage behaviour. If there are problems establishing a morning or bedtime routine, for example, a Barnardo’s worker spends time in the home helping the family to develop one.

Martin Kaid, Children’s Services Manager with Barnardo’s Cymru, said:  “It’s about meeting the individual needs of families and that might mean supporting them at 7am or 8pm for a while so they can make long-term, sustainable changes. It’s an innovative service which strengthens families and communities and gives children and young people chance to reach their full potential.”

Tracey Nash is mum to Aaron, 16. She said: “We get tremendous support. The courses and activities give the children confidence and skills in everything from handling money to road safety.

“I can’t describe how much more confident Aaron is now. At one time he wouldn’t make eye contact with people but now, to see him laughing and doing things he enjoys makes my day. He loves going to Barnardo’s, he’s comfortable here.

“The parents get chance to meet other parents of children with disabilities too and if their children are picked up for school by bus every day that doesn’t normally happen. It’s good to talk about things with other parents, we understand each other.

“As Aaron grew older I was worried that sex education might be tricky but when I mentioned it to Barnardo’s they ran a specially tailored course. They arranged for someone to come in and talk to them in a way they could understand, it was absolutely brilliant.”

Andrew Day, Service Manager with Blaenau Gwent CBC Social Services, said:

“This project is a great example of collaborative working between families, Barnardo’s and Social Services.

“It takes a holistic commissioning approach to the whole family of children with a disability, to both support and confidently manage their needs which is empowering for families and their children as they both progress and achieve their outcomes”.