Every ten minutes a family receives the news that their child is disabled. Having a child can be an isolating and anxious time, even without the added challenge of learning about your child's condition or impairment, so you can imagine the heightened stress and loneliness felt by the families of disabled children.
That's where Scope’s Face 2 Face befrienders scheme comes in, matching parents with disabled children with trained befrienders and changing lives – helping parents feel less isolated and letting them know that others have gone through the same experiences.
It’s a relief to know that there are other parents going through the same thing and that you can make contact and find out more, says one Scope befriender.￼￼
Without this Face to Face service there would be nowhere for me to go for emotional support. I don’t want to be a number in a medical waiting room. This is more heartfelt – it’s not about ‘fixing’ it’s about listening - Charlene
The Scope Face 2 Face training develops the skills that are so important in befriending: how to listen without judging, how to empathise, re-stating what the other person has told you to ensure you’ve correctly understood, offering and discussing solutions and acknowledging where formal counselling may be more beneficial.
The Face 2 Face service has had a big impact, with 87% of users saying that accessing the service had improved or significantly improved their confidence in and understanding of how to meet the needs of disabled child and the rest of their family.
Scope works with hundreds of families every day, but there are still many more that could benefit from a befriender. There are also many hundreds who could become befrienders themselves, but who still need to go through the ten weeks of intensive training that it takes to have the skills to support other parents. Find out more here: http://www.scope.org.uk/face2face
Scope is currently raising funds to get more parents through the face to face befriender training. The link to the donation page is: http://www.scope.org.uk/lifechangers
Although in these straitened times people may be unable to give money to causes it is possible to help in other ways, not least by raising awareness of the crucial work being done by schemes such as this. In addition it is crucial to let parents of disabled children know that such services are available to them and Scope needs to get the word out.
You can sign up to find out more about the service at: http://www.scope.org.uk/befrienders and your support will enable Scope to raise awareness about the service as well as raise funds to support this important scheme.