Knowing Peter and Debbie Patterson (All Seasons Fruiterers) had raised more than £26,000 for KIDS and hope to raise £30,000 by the end of this May, I wanted to know more about the charity. So Peter introduced me to Kitty, their enthusiastic fundraiser, and all became clear when she invited me to visit the local centre in Fareham.
KIDS (Kids In Distressed Situations) supports disabled children (from birth to 25 years) and their families, The charity provides a variety of services designed to offer continuing support to parents, siblings and carers and to help children and young people develop the necessary skills to live as independently as possible. Part of a nationwide network, the Fareham and Gosport branch supports around 500 families in the area. On arriving at the Centre I was given a whistle-stop tour which left me reeling with information and filled with amazement at all they do and achieve.
We began the tour in the nursery where carers Kylie and Amy were working on an autumn theme with two toddlers, Jacob and Ola (see photo). Brandon, aged 2, was also present but sleeping peacefully in specially designed pushchair. Initially Jacob and Ola greeted me with suspicious frowns but after admiring their collection of autumn leaves & cones etcetera and enthusing over the apparatus in the room I received smiles, enthusiastic waves and hearty goodbyes as I left (hopefully not because I was leaving!). After the nursery I saw the pre-school area (rated Outstanding by Ofsted) where carers and children were happily engaged eating lunch. Two boys immediately jumped up eager to show me their toy cars.
Next I was shown the garden fitted with astro-turf and play equipment and, after that, a sensory room containing large bubble tubes, a ball pit and other calming fascinations. I then met Carole who runs the Respite Suite comprising a wet room, bathroom, lounge/diner, fully equipped kitchen and common room with a large television and a sensory screen which reacted to sound and touch. There were three colour-coded bedrooms, lilac, blue and green. The green room had an en-suite bathroom and bed-hoist. The suite is designed to accommodate youngsters for short stays, teach them basic skills for independent living and give their families respite. During the day the suite is managed by up to four carers and two on overnight duties.
At the end of the tour I was introduced to the Regional manager, Emma, who described some of the countless services the Centre offers or gives access to including respite for families with children suffering from all kinds of disabilities, residential short breaks for the children, developmental play groups, help for young carers and a host of other services. As well as these, the Centre provides a room where families can share experiences while their children play. There is also a clinic room for families to meet health care professionals and discuss matters in a relaxed and friendly setting that few hospitals are able provide.
Any local parents struggling with disabled children and wanting support can contact the centre by ringing 01329 312312 or visiting www.kids.org.uk/southeast. Having an autistic grandson myself, I can see how much he and his parents could benefit from the centre’s support. Its wide range of services makes it a charity that really deserves to be widely known and used. If you’ve no need to use KIDS they can still be supported in various ways. Contact Kitty for a list of forthcoming fundraising events (marathons, abseiling, parachute humps, etc.) or, if strolling into Lee is more your style, you can always help Peter and Debbie meet their May target of £30,000.