Special Stars Foundation

25 September 2017

“We go as a family, which is great. It gives us, as parents of a child with a disability, the opportunity to meet other parents in a similar situation and share information. Best of all, it gives our son the chance to be free to explore, play and have fun in a safe, secure and friendly environment.” Jayne Barker, parent carer and resident

“We started the playgroup to help local families caring for a disabled family member to have a place to meet socially which is accessible, inclusive and welcoming.

It’s such a simple thing, we couldn’t understand why it didn’t already exist, which is sad because so many parents  in our situation can feel isolated.

I’m a parent with two sons who have  a disability; they have autism.

Caring for a disabled child can be stressful and can impact on family life. Parents often have to work fewer hours, spend much more on items such as specialist clothing, toys and equipment and, without support, it can be a very depressing and lonely existence. To meet other parents that understand  this and have had similar experiences  is an incredible lifeline.

Special Stars was born originally as a special needs playgroup, but it soon became much more than that. The Sunday group was very popular and over time we built up a collection of sensory toys and equipment. We’ve met local like-minded caring parents who also have disabled children – some of whom have now joined us as trustees  of the charity.

There are real, lasting friendships and support networks forming. Parents have made lots of new friends and bonded over shared experiences, and even meet outside of the group as well. It’s absolutely brilliant and we are always reaching new people – it is very much loved and valued by the people that go to it.

It is such a great support network for the children too. It’s a really inclusive environment, not only is it physically accessible, but we also welcome people of all ages.

We think it’s really important for siblings to be involved and for the whole  family to be welcome. They can play alongside their peers and also meet up with other children that are going through similar experiences.

I have been going along with my two children for many years, who have formed friendships which they never would have had without the club.”

Natalie Barnes, parent carer, founder and Chair of Trustees



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