For almost 8 years a local group has been supporting families of children with autism on a face to face basis, operating from children centres within the Southend area, until late last year when they finally found their own home which they are slowly transforming into Little Heroes ASD SUPPORT HUB!
When the lockdown commenced all physical support stopped and the hub was closed! The hopes and dreams of what these parents wanted to create for likewise parents/ carers and families for now and the future had to freeze. Many forms of income stopped as fundraising proved extremely challenging without face to face interactions, and organised activities such as The Colourthon and The London Marathon have either been cancelled or deferred to hopefully later in the year.
As for everyone, times are challenging, but for families with additional needs it can prove even more challenging. The removal of daily routines, retracting from socialisation and activities can increase anxieties to say but the least.
The overall operating committee and volunteers of the support group decided to try and re-educate themselves to enable others. In addition to virtually supporting families via what now seems as the more traditional methods (email and telephone), they have started regular weekly zoom support sessions for the adults and hope to introduce weekly children zoom activities if funding allows.
Knowing that times are tough for all – physically, mentally and financially the team wanted to bring some hope back to the families they support. They approached The Southend Scope Local People Project and was successful in receiving funding to supply 140 packages. Sourcing items that was suitable, available delivery in a reasonable timescale and not over priced was a challenge within itself. It took a lot of time and preparation, but at the same time it gave volunteers a task and something positive to think about.
The team sourced, co-ordinated and prepared over 150 Thinking of You Packs in the end, consisting of family care packages including some household basics and treats, a range of children activity packs, food parcels and even tablet packages which came complete with 12 months internet. These have been delivered to over 90 households as the group tried their best to stretch out what they had available to them as far as possible. Even more households have and will be receiving inspirational cards in the upcoming weeks, as they want everyone to know self isolation does not have to mean social isolation and no one should ever truly be alone.
Kim Drake, Co-Founder of the group said:
“The response from families has been truly over whelming, every pack was hand delivered by one of our many volunteers in a non contact form. Volunteers was supplied with all the hygiene basics including gloves and masks. What we thought would be an afternoon of deliveries ended up being days as families often appeared at their doorway and conversations were had from afar. From experience we understand the impact of talking to someone who understands and can honestly empathise with your situation, has for families of children with additional needs, this was echoed on these deliveries with many families feeding back that their doorstep drops had changed the whole dynamics of their household that day and even week. We hope these packs will continue to keep giving to the families and remind them they are not alone.”