The Care UK wellbeing foundation recently handed over cheques for £4,000 to two Kent charities that use the arts to support children and young people living with disabilities.
A £2,000 grant to the Margate and Sittingbourne charity 4Us2 will see a series of fun-packed music and signing sessions for babies and toddlers living with disabilities during 2017. The sessions will be run at three East Kent venues to increase the accessibility to parents.
Parents and children will join in with nursery rhymes and songs created especially for the group using toys, puppets and sign language to stimulate communication, creativity and understanding.
The team has structured the upcoming sessions so parents can learn techniques to continue working on their child’s language and communications skills at home.
4Us2 was established five years ago by parents of disabled children in order to support children and parents alike. Manager Ivan O’Reilly said: “Experience and research has shown that families with disabled children experience greater isolation and that social networks are of great importance in finding support.
“These new sessions allow for lots of social time together so that families can get to know each other and build friendships and social networks. As a result, we hope that parents will experience much less social isolation.
“We have also found that involving the parents in leading songs and being involved in the content of new songs has a huge impact on the interaction with the session and their children. They will also develop music skills to use in play with their children. This will mean the children will experience less frustration and stress as they become better able to communicate and just as importantly, parents and children will have fun together.”
The second £2,000 grant was presented to Folkestone charity ARRCC (Activities, Respite, Rehabilitation Care Centres). The grant will enable the charity to buy equipment, including a specialist disabled access sewing machine that will be used to help up to 50 participants create individual and easy to wear fashion that suits their lifestyles.
Trish Bishop, deputy CEO of ARRCC, said: “We are very grateful to Care UK for this generous grant. We will run a series of workshops at our Tontine Street centre, where participants can design and create comfortable and expressive outfits that convey who they are.
“This will culminate in a fashion show that will be open to the public so that as many people as possible will see the talent and creativity. Often people have pre-conceived ideas about the abilities of people living with disabilities and there are common stereotypes about how they dress. We want to bust those myths wide open.”
The charity will run 25 workshops over a five-month period. Sandra Janman, volunteer and member co-ordinator, said: “Our members tell us they intensely dislike shopping for fashionable clothes because, although they like being well dressed, the market does not take them into consideration.
“One person told us they struggle with changing rooms that are too small and they find putting on fashionable clothes too difficult – as a result they end up wearing baggy jumpers and fleeces. Others have talked about their feelings of disappointment at not seeing disabled people in adverts and magazines.”
Vanessa Pendleton, who manages Care UK’s Kingsfield residential care home in Faversham, presented the cheques on behalf of the foundation. She said: “We are all delighted to support these excellent sessions both in Folkestone and Garlinge. They support both children and adults and encourage self-expression and communication through creativity.
“We were all delighted to meet the charities’ teams and trustees and hear about their invaluable work for Kent communities. I am very much looking forward to seeing the fashion show planned for the creations made by ARRCC’s participants.
“I was also very interested to hear about the children’s music sessions. We know from our work with adults with dementia and speech and language problems that music and song can be a powerful and fun way to communicate and we wish everyone involved every success.”
Applications for new grants are now open and fundraisers at other charities which work to promote wellbeing through the arts can find out more on the Care UK wellbeing foundation website.