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These are the final words of a powerful presentation given by the SENsitive Group to candidates standing for Greater Manchester Mayor, demanding better support for children with special educational needs (SEN). This was part of a broader Assembly organised by Greater Manchester Citizen’s, a coalition of faith and community organisations across Greater Manchester. Almost 550 people Zoomed in on the night, over 100 from Caritas Shrewsbury.
Carla, a mother of 6 and member of the SENsitive Group that Caritas support, spoke about her 4-year battle to have her youngest son, who is nonverbal, diagnosed. The process made her question her own instincts as a mother and she asked “can you imagine looking into the eyes of your child and not knowing whether he crying because he is hungry or hurting?” Even though her son has now been diagnosed with autism, she is still trying to secure the support he desperately needs.
Shannon another member of the group, who has 2 autistic children, spoke about the impact the pandemic has had. The family lived in a first floor flat with no garden but had to self-isolate and Shannon questioned why families with SEN children are not prioritised within housing allocation.
The candidates heard the story of Leah, a 22-year old woman living in homeless accommodation, whose story shows what happens when the needs of the child are not addressed. Leah is still waiting for her diagnosis but has spent her whole life hiding away, due to severe social anxiety, where even going to the shops is virtually impossible. While many people flagged up concerns about Leah during her painful school days, no one acted. This is why Leah feels looking back on her life, “that nobody cares because nobody listens.”
Sharon, a member of the new Caritas Young Voices group, brought the candidates attention to a parliamentary report, which highlighted that 4 in 5 children, over 1 million nationwide, will not secure the support their needs merit. This will impact future wellbeing, education and life chances.
The SENsitive Group invited election candidates to work with them to:
- Make EHCP assessments & support simpler, faster and more accessible
- Bring the main SEN agencies together to hear families experiences and work on solutions to improve services
- To provide resources to support the voluntary sector so they can form a network of support across Manchester
- To employ SEN case workers to help families navigate the system
Candidates, all visibly moved by the stories, responded positively. The key task for the SENsitive group is to hold the winning candidate accountably after the election for promises made on the night. If you would like more information, or are interested in supporting this work, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newly built nest boxes, bug boxes for children to paint and colour, wild flower seeds to plant, bird feeders and nature identity charts – a package of goodies to help families and individuals connect with nature in their own gardens and balconies! This is to help get spring off to a flying start!
The Caritas Home Spring Nature Project will provide enjoyment and activities for children with SEND who are part of the SENsitive Group, as well as developing mindfulness for men involved in the Mend Minds Group.
On hearing about the project, 6 primary schools in Wythenshawe are now interested in becoming involved! Thank you to Buzz, Manchester Health and Wellbeing Service for funding this project. Despite the rumours, spring is still coming!
Schools and councils can use the below website to request free mobile data increases for families who don’t have broadband at home and can’t afford extra data for devices. Three, Smarty, Virgin Mobile, EE, Tesco Mobile & Sky Mobile are all taking part in the scheme.
Thank you to all our supporters and https://www.cheadle-jun.stockport.sch.uk/ for their generous donations towards our Caritas at Christmas appeal. This support means we have been able to provide Christmas Hampers, toys and gifts to the people in need within the Diocese. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.
Members of the Mini Vinnies Group from St Anthony’s RC School, Woodhouse Park, visited the Hope Project Food Bank based at Caritas’ St. Aidan’s Centre, Wythenshawe. The school brought another amazing donation of food and the children were able to learn about the food bank and how it operates. The children did an amazing job with helping to mark up the cans and prepare food parcels.
Thanks you from Caritas and Catholic Social Action Wythenshawe to St Anthony’s and all the schools who have supported the food bank – as the children learnt, without this support the food bank would not have been able to continue during the pandemic! One of the children described what the food bank did during this time as “a miracle!”
The Wythenshawe MP Mike Kane visiting the Hope Project Foodbank to donate items to make up Christmas parcels and to explore some of the issues impacting local communities. Many thanks to Mike, Sarah and Emma for your continued support.
Many thanks for the wonderful books which arrived today. This is part of a project to encourage reading for children and develop literacy skills.
40,000 children in Manchester don’t own a single book and Caritas is proud to work with Read Manchester to change this.
The books shown will be distributed to children of families involved in the SENsitive Group, refugees & asylum seeker involved in The Well Project and also given out in surprise Christmas parcels for families who have been referred into the Hope Project Foodbank.
The SENsitive Group (which is a support group for families who have children with special needs) linking up with Siena Castellon, a young person who was one of three finalist chosen for International Children’s Peace Prize.
18 year old Siena was chosen for her efforts in campaigning for children who have autism. Since 13 years of age Siena, who has autism, has spoken out, set up a website to support children with autism and written a book!
The book, ‘The Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide: How to grow up Awesome and Autistic,’ is aimed at teenage girls who have autism.
The SENsitive members were inspired by Siena’s powerful story and her achievements.
The Hope Project Foodbank continues to work collaboratively with schools in addressing food poverty across Wythenshawe.
Over the last few weeks we have received some amazing donations from school harvest festivals.
Many thanks to – Northenden Community Primary – St Wilfred’s C of E Primary, Northenden – St Aidan’s RC Primary, Northern Moor – St Anthony’s RC Primary, Woodhouse Park – Sacred Heart RC Primary, Baguley, St Elizabeth’s RC Primary, Peel Hall – St Peter’s RC School, Newall Green. Wow! What a wonderful contribution during these challenging times.