Our work centres on supporting families who have a disabled child or children at home and who are in danger of giving up the unequal struggle due to the physical, mental or financial strains of caring for a severely disabled child. These families, quite often single mothers, consider putting their child into a State home, as there is little or no State support to assist them in keeping their child at home. Not only is there a lack of money but also there are very few kindergartens and even fewer schools their child can attend.
Families are often advised by the Social Services to put their disabled child into a State home. Our experience of State-run homes is such that we consider this should be a final option. It is therefore vitally important to give support to families who want to try and keep their child at home.
The main aim of this project is to help families help themselves rather than see or treat them as victims. This project started in 2000 on a very small scale and we currently have two social workers and three volunteers who regularly make home visits to families with disabled children. They help take care of them; they assist with such tasks as housework, shopping and taking the children out (usually in a wheelchair). In some families, we only provide material help: e.g. medicines, a bath-life, a wheelchair, or pampers.
Networking the families together is important and we organise a picnic at least once or twice each summer so that the families can get to know each other. As a result of these meetings, two mothers are now trying to set up a day-care centre for disabled children. We want to enable families to achieve something themselves. Some families are with us for a short time, others longer and few families receive one-off assistance. We always have a waiting list of families who need our help but resources at present are over-stretched.