A project which supports families of children with disabilities or additional needs is being expanded in Telford after securing more than £330,000 of lottery funding.
The PODS (Parents Opening Doors) Parent Carer Forum provides a variety of support for families in the Telford & Wrekin area, and the funding boost will help create two new jobs as well as increasing the services on offer.
Delighted organisers said the funding from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund totalled £339,392 and had come at just the right time.
Keiron Warr, chair of trustees, said: “We are extremely pleased that PODs has been awarded further funding to continue the much-needed and valued work carried out by our charity on behalf of the parents and carers of children with disabilities in Telford and Wrekin.
“We look forward to increasing our support to more members and to continue to represent their views in these ever challenging times.”
The funding is spread over the coming three years, and will involve the creation of project administrator and project officer job roles to help support the group’s work.
Jayne Stevens, participation co-ordinator at the forum, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue to work with local families.
“The reforms which were introduced recently for children with special educational needs and disabilities have demonstrated the importance of the parent carer voice in working with services.
“Families have told us repeatedly that they really value the peer-led approach that only the PODS Forum can offer, so it’s absolutely fantastic to be able to continue with our vital work.”
Jayne added: “We will now continue to involve and support families in working with health, education and social care services, alongside our third sector partners, to meet their needs.
“We provide a range of events specifically developed to increase people’s confidence and give them the opportunity to work with professionals in relation to the services their children need.
“We will also continue to develop families’ improved knowledge and understanding of the 2014 education reforms and legislation, which is very important.
“We are developing our forum capabilities to deliver our outcomes and welcome further support from anyone who would like to consider joining or be more involved in our work.”
Building on the success of the ‘Face 2 Face’ befriending scheme, the project will continue to be hosted by PODS in Telford & Wrekin and expanded to offer dual training for befrienders who can meet the wider needs of the families they support.
Together there will be a wide range of peer-led emotional, practical and social support that will be available to a wider range of families.
Shana Weare, Face 2 Face scheme co-ordinator, said: “It’s really exciting to be able to not only continue the Face 2 Face befriending scheme which has proven to be an amazing support to families in Telford & Wrekin, but also to widen the support we offer.”
For more information about the projects, visit the website at www.podstelford.org or call the office on 01952 271532.