Skylarks are an amazing charity providing activities and therapies for children with disabilities and additional needs. They are also a finalist in the Community Support category for this years’ BAPS Awards.
Find out how they’ve adapted their services throughout lockdown and how they continue to strive to make a big impact.
How has coronavirus and lockdown changed the way you support people?
Skylarks had to rapidly adjust the way we provide support to families who have children with additional needs. Using Zoom we got many services online: from yoga, cookery, Singing Hands, art activities and music therapy for children; to counselling for children and adults, resilience courses, First Aid and various support groups for parents and even teaching parents how to cut their children’s hair during lockdown.
Have you seen families rely on you and other organisations more during lockdown?
About 230 families used our videos during lockdown, 1500 received our weekly newsletters and we kept in touch by telephone with our 80 most vulnerable families.
We have been aware that some families are seriously struggling – with tight EHCP deadlines, very varied provision from schools, lack of routine, lack of support, childcare, social care support and summer activities. About 120 new families have registered with us since lockdown.
Are there any other blogs or organisations that you would recommend?
We work with a range of other local and national organisations, such as KIDS, RUILS, Welcare, Mencap, Contact, and our local parent carer forums. We strongly believe in the benefits on working together to support our most vulnerable families and do so by bringing our partner organisations together under one roof.
What are you most proud of about your organisation?
We are a small charity with a huge impact! It is hard to believe we offer so much with such a small number of people and we couldn’t do it without the help of our wonderful volunteers, some of whom come through amazing sources such as Neighbourly and Good Gym. From setting up toys, acting as a trustee, making endless cups of tea and coffee, to giving massages and therapies, to helping children with disabilities learn to ride a bicycle – our volunteers are fantastic! No wonder they were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
We’re also proud that we are an independent charity and do not apply for statutory funding. This gives us the independence and flexibility to fully support our families even when they are having difficulty getting the support they need from their Local Authority. It does mean that we are therefore continually applying for grants and fundraising. We are hugely grateful to all our funders such as BBC Children in Need, Global’s Make Some Noise, Haymarket Media Group and many others.
What advice would you give to parents/carers who feel they don’t know how best to support their child?
Talk to other parents. It is only by sharing experiences that we can develop the resilience we all need to fully support our children to thrive and achieve their potential, whatever that may look like. All the team at Skylarks are parents of children with various additional needs and disabilities – we have all been on similar journeys, learnt along the way, received support from some wonderful people. We are all striving towards the same goal and together we can do it!
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s BAPS Awards?
The opportunity to feel part of a bigger movement, to meet others in the same boat giving so generously of themselves – and hopefully to have a bit of fun too!
The Baps Awards Ceremony takes place 4th November from 6.00pm. This year, due to COVID19 the event will be held virtually. So whilst you may not physically be in the room, you’ll still be connecting with bloggers, support organisations and amazing parents from far and wide. Sign up to join in the ceremony here.
The BAPS Awards
The BAPs (Bloody Awesome Parents) Awards allows SEND bloggers to be recognised for their talents, tales and achievements. Founded by Bringing Us Together and My Family, Our Needs, these awards celebrate SEND Bloggers everywhere. Click here to find out more…