A charity working across Edinburgh and the Lothians to support families with a disabled child has secured £3,000. Firsthand Lothian will use the funding from Corra Foundation to provide respite support for up to 100 families in 2014, often at times of crisis when they have nowhere else to turn.
Bev Read, Director of Firsthand Lothian, said: “The usual strains of looking after children are magnified when a child has a disability, and parents can find it virtually impossible to have any time off as it is so difficult to get suitable childcare. For families with children with disabilities including epilepsy, autism, choking disorders and cerebral palsy, parents need to have confidence that whoever is looking after the child is properly trained so their child will be safe. For the child, having another adult who isn’t a relation to spend dedicated time with them in their home environment can be really important as they have so little opportunity for this. As well as the respite side of our work we also support families to build their own resilience and so that they are better placed to cope in the future, and that has benefits for everyone involved.”
Firsthand Lothian uses a mix of trained volunteers and paid staff to provide support in the family home where there is a disabled child from birth to 16 years old. For families with more than one child, care is provided for all the children as it is often impossible for parents to organise this through other routes. This allows siblings time with each other while giving parents the support they need to have time off without feeling guilty or worrying about their children.
Mary Craig OBE, Chief Executive of Corra Foundation, said: “While many parents struggle to find time to themselves, this is particularly difficult for parents of disabled children as it is much more challenging to find childcare. This affects parents, the child with the disability, and also any siblings who often miss out on normal child-hood activities themselves. Firsthand Lothian delivers a really valuable service that parents can trust, and this is a vital part of helping them be able to make the most of the breathing space this respite care provides.”
This is Firsthand Lothian’s sixth award from the Foundation, bringing the total support to just over £104,000. Set up over twenty years ago, the last few years have been challenging for Firsthand Lothian, with cuts in statutory funding. This has meant Firsthand Lothian has had to seek funding from grants and trusts to ensure that families with children with disabilities seeking home based respite and support can continue to receive this much needed and valuable service.