Updated: Apr 3
Hi Sunshine News readers,
There’s so much to celebrate here at Sunshine HQ!
Not only have we welcomed our new Marketing and Comms Officer Sophie to the team, preparations are in full swing for this years biggest birthday bash as our Sunshine Run turns 20 and we are celebrating a HUGE donation from Disability charity Scope and the Charities Aid Foundation who are supporting our work in 2023! Their donation of £23,310 will contribute towards our Family Services including our outreach programme and family events.
Our family Coordinators Bev and Rachel, organise a range of sensory activities and outdoor play opportunities for the children, young adults and families we support. Regular Sunshine News readers will remember we have featured many of our sessions and feedback from families who have attended in previous columns and it really is such a highlight for all of our team to share these special experiences with the beneficiaries we serve.
Our family play sessions encourages children with often complex or life limiting needs to develop positive social connections and creates a wider range of experiences so they can learn and play with other children. Our sessions are carefully planned to not only be fun, but to offer the opportunity for children to engage in activities that support their education and our Rachel enjoys the prep and planning nearly as much as the kids love the actual session!
Our family events and day trips are designed to emphasise differentiation - children can intuitively engage to their own level and ability without feeling 'different'. We currently run quarterly sensory sessions for children living with disabilities and complex needs as well as cinema, museum, farm and beach trips throughout the year.
We pride ourselves on providing whole family care and support and in addition to our play sessions which are open to all members of the family, we also run quarterly coffee mornings for parents and carers, which are an opportunity for them to receive practical information and advice on equipment provision as well as connect with other local families. These sessions are a life line for many who aim to link with like minded parents who understand the challenges and barriers they face as a carer for a child with complex needs or terminal illness.
Quite often our coffee mornings are just a safe space to vent, and that’s absolutely fine by us, but we are proud to also offer a range of additional services during these events such as guest speakers, practical training sessions and advice and guidance on a range of topics.
All of our family services are free to access, meaning cost is never a barrier for our children to come together and play with their peers or for our parent carers to have a cuppa with others who understand. We are a non-means-tested charity offering our services for free and would never ask for any financial information for equipment provision, advice, signposting or the activities we host.
In 2020, we introduced a telephone helpline service which is accessed by families, local organisations and other charities and health care professionals. The helpline is operational from 9am-5pm Monday-Friday. This service enables carers to receive practical information, advice and emotional pre-counselling support.
Our Bev (Affectionately known at Sunshine HQ as Santa Bev because she knows EVERYONE!) is able to spend time with our parents 121 to really listen to their needs and concerns. This listening ear is so much more important than providing advice or signposting the caller to additional help when their needs exceed our own expertise, it’s a chance for these carers to feel heard when quite often they feel ignored or invisible.
Donations like this one from Scope and CAF mean that these conversations can continue, children with additional needs can carry on attending fun play sessions and activities that they may otherwise have missed out on and that families can make special memories together in a safe, judgement free environment. We are so grateful to all at Scope and CAF for helping us make this magic happen!