2006 Now with added SNAP
Special Needs & Parents, or SNAP, was formed in 1994, becoming a registered charity two years later.
It was founded by a group of eight families who felt that they had experienced a lack of relevant provision and assistance for young children with impairments and that better support should be available. From its modest beginning as a weekly parent and toddler group, it soon grew into a national player, but was still a voluntary organisation until 1999 when it appointed its first fulltime employee, partially funded by the UK's largest disabled peopleís charity, Scope. Co-founder Hilary Needham was appointed SNAPís chairwoman.
SNAP quickly discovered that the need for the kind of support they offered extended far beyond their region or initial age-group. Families of school-age children had broadened the appeal of the group, leading to the addition of its own range of advisory and information services, including a telephone helpline, specialist library and monthly family newsletter. SNAP also introduced music therapy and after school activities such as yoga and trampoline clubs. By 1997, SNAP was supporting over 170 families but, incredibly, all this activity was still being coordinated from the chairwoman's own front room. Lottery funding was sought for a small office, which was opened at Keys Hall, a council owned premises in Warley.
However, by 2006 the charity was facing a different kind of problem. Many of the founding parents, including the chairwoman, whose passionate commitment to their children's wellbeing had driven its effectiveness, now found their children had grown up. Finding new parents with the same degree of passion and experience was proving difficult, as was negotiating the minefield of increasingly complex disability legislation. For both these reasons, the charity began to see considerable merit in merging with a larger but like-minded organisation. The idea was equally attractive to KIDS, not just because of the quality services and infrastructure SNAP had built up, but for its location - Winchester being well placed in the heart of Hampshire, an area KIDS did not cover at the time. Over the next three years, core services were maintained but the original name was gradually phased out.
The majority of staff who worked for SNAP are still working for KIDS today, providing their original services as well as new after school clubs and play schemes. There has also been a marked change in funding: previously, SNAP only received 10% of its revenue from local government; now all services are funded this way.
One aspect of the name still lives on, acknowledged on May 17th, 2007 when HRH The Countess of Wessex opened The SNAP Centre - newly refurbished premises in Brentwood, Essex. The centre is fully equipped with progressive multi-sensory and training and activity rooms. SNAP's enduring legacy is that it demonstrates exactly how effective and enduring parent power can be.