Helping hand for families in need
RAINBOW House, in Mawdesley, is known for its work supporting children and young people with neurological and physical disabilities, but the charity has recognised that it has become a vital part of the lives of its children’s parents and siblings.
It recognises the importance of support for the whole family and realise that providing breaks and activities for parents and siblings, together with the opportunity to socialise with other families using Rainbow House, is extremely beneficial to those families who are often isolated from the rest of society.
While much support so far has been informal and reactive, Rainbow House is now starting to develop a programme of social events and parent carer groups. Among the events being planned by Sonia Harris, parent liaison at Rainbow House, are family barbecues, Dads’ Day Out at Preston North End, Mums’ Race Day at Haydock Park, Chester Zoo trip, Siblings Day Out to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and a Sea Life Centre Trip.
Katy Hencher, a parent from Leyland, said: “Everyone is so friendly at Rainbow House it makes you feel normal and the programme of events being planned sounds great fun.” Some parents are also arranging their own informal get-togethers, looking at healthy lifestyle options and taking part in Keep Fit sessions with Rachel Bryan, of Fitbop, who gives up some of her time to help them.
Rachel said she had experience of caring in her family and when she realised how much time the parents give up to care she thought she would do the Keep Fit sessions to give them some “me time” while their children were at Rainbow House.
Chief executive of Rainbow House, Ben Blackman, said: “Rainbow House is changing to meet the needs of a changing world where a whole family approach has been identified as the way forward. While our main aim is to support children and young people with neurological and physical disabilities, we recognise the need to support all the family as well.
“We know from families we support that other support services they have relied on continue to be hit by cutbacks so we feel we should step up wherever we can.
“As we have no statutory funding, cutbacks do not directly affect us, but we have to raise over £12,000 per week to provide the unique variety of services our families need.”
He continued: “In addition to the events, group sessions and counselling we plan to organise, we will continue to progress partnership work with other organisations who help unpaid carers, to ensure that our parent carers have the widest support network possible.”