Children ‘Making Their Voices Heard’

An Education Advocate funded by the Steve Morgan Foundation has helped children with Down’s Syndrome across Cheshire to ‘make their voices heard’, and their parents to feel less isolated.

A three-year grant of £60,500 was awarded to the Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group to help with the role which ensures the charity is able to visit children in their nurseries and schools and provide an environment for them to thrive and develop.

The role has been filled by Sandy, who will now be looking to consolidate and step up the support offered during the second year of the grant.

“Having a specially trained member of staff to visit children in their nurseries and schools has made a tremendous difference to our organisation,” says Lucy Liddiard, Marketing Communications Manager with CDSSG.

“Prior to having this post, we were only able to respond to parents and schools at the point of crisis when a relationship had broken down. 

“Now, because of the funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation, we are able to support the child and their family at every stage. 

“We are reaching children with Down’s Syndrome, schools and communities on a much larger scale and giving them support, training, speech and language and Makaton skills. 

“Many of the children who have benefitted from this project are able to get the support they need to thrive in an inclusive and supportive environment. 

“They are benefitting from reduced isolation and a greater level of inclusion and integration.

“It’s wonderful to receive the positive feedback from parents and schools and to see the children being understood, included and encouraged to reach their potential.”

One example where the funding has made such a difference is with a seven-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome attending a mainstream school.

Sandy was able to make visits to the school to observe, also attending with the DSA to introduce positive strategies to enable the pupil to re-join his classmates after a sensory break.

She also carried out specific learning profile training for all staff at the school to help increase their understanding of the learning profile of children with Down’s Syndrome. 

The pupil’s mother said:  “We are so grateful to finally be able to receive multi -disciplinary support for my son. 

“Having someone who is genuinely interested in our family’s struggles has been revitalising, and Sandy prompted school on my behalf so that I can focus on being a parent first.”

CDSSG have supported 38 children and young people over the last year, out of a total of 276 of all ages who have benefitted from the charity’s activities.

“We have had a fantastic first year of this project,” added Lucy.

“Sandy has established her caseload and increased her specialist skills in Down’s Syndrome to ensure she is providing the most up-to-date advice and information to our families. 

“Without commitment from the Steve Morgan Foundation these children would have struggled to get their voice heard and their parents would have felt isolated. 

“Year Two of the project will focus on consolidating the support and being able to demonstrate the impact on the children by observing increased levels of confidence.”

*Cheshire Downs’s Syndrome Society were among those charities celebrated at the recent Steve Morgan Foundation Awards and Conference held at Carden Park Hotel.

CDSSG were named runners-up in the best Entrepreneurial Charity/Social Enterprise category and received their award from one of the Steve Morgan Foundation trustees, Rhiannon Walker OBE. 

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