KIDS at 50

Welcome to KIDS’ 50th Anniversary

For 50 years, KIDS has worked alongside disabled children, young people and their families.

We’ve directly helped many thousands of children and young people, supported their families and worked creatively to provide support in the way that’s right for each individual We’re delighted to share examples of our achievements over five decades; stories from families we’ve supported, young people who have used our services, trustees who have guided our work and staff who have dedicated their working lives to championing the needs of disabled children.

We have a gallery showcasing some of the events we’ve organised and from some of our services over the years, messages of support, and a timeline (coming soon) illustrating a snapshot of some of our achievements in each of the decades.

As the anniversary year progresses we will be adding more content so please do check back regularly. And if you spot a gap or have a story to share we’d love to hear from you!

Alana was supported by KIDS Orchard Centre, receiving support from our play schemes and short breaks for five years. Her mum, Alex, writes about how KIDS supported the family and how it inspired her to join the KIDS team as a Senior Practitioner.

Grieving for the future

“Alana has severe learning disability, Autism, ADHD, Pica (an eating disorder) and PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance). It became apparent that she was having some developmental challenges at around 21 months and she was diagnosed just after her 3rd birthday. Soon afterwards we started to lose most of our social group, as people just felt too awkward talking us and I guess didn’t want Alana around their children. 

As a parent going through the process of grieving for the future you’ve lost, and dealing with the new life you’re forced to face, social support and finding a place to fit in is really important.

Finding KIDS and getting some respite

Alana was around 5 years old when KIDS Orchard Centre was recommended to us. Expecting the usual paperwork and rejection, I applied – and was pleasantly surprised when she was invited to join an after school group, with relative ease. Two hours per week doesn’t sound like much, but when you have a child who requires constant attention, it really is a delightful relief to be able to shop or grab a coffee on your own.

Alana also loved the sessions, as she got loads of attention from staff and the building was appropriate for her needs with lots of fun things to do! I got to meet other parents in similar situations to me, which has been really useful over the years, for information and support. As the years went on, Alana went on many trips with KIDS and started having direct payment short breaks.

Growing older and facing some challenges

As she got older, she grew in size and her challenging behaviour escalated to the stage that she was virtually unmanageable. It took three years for me to secure her a place at a residential school. The whole time I was battling with social services, the school, transport and respite. Towards the end, Alana’s behaviour was so extreme she was expelled from school, banned from transport from respite. As a family we were at the end of our tether.

KIDS were still there for us

The only organisation that didn’t give up trying to help us was KIDS. The staff were just amazing, they did everything they could think of to keep up her short breaks, even including her in summer play schemes. Without that support, I don’t know how we could have got through the last six months of Alana living at home. I will be eternally grateful to the staff who never gave up on her. I remember being surprised to see that staff members were genuinely emotional when Alana left to start her new life in residential school. The care that comes from the amazing staff is really touching.

A fresh start supporting families like mine

When Alana moved to her new life in September 2019, I found that I suddenly had lots of time on my hands, after my life had revolved around her care for 10 years. I wanted to do something that would allow me to support other family carers who I know first-hand need it so desperately. A vacancy for Saturday Senior Practitioner came up at the Orchard Centre and having 17 years of experience working in SEN education as well as being a parent, it was a great opportunity for me to take on a new challenge. I applied and was delighted when I was offered the job because I know the real difference KIDS makes to families.

This summer we managed to offer support to some young people, even with the pandemic restrictions, which is a huge testament to the determination of the management and staff to keep active in young people’s lives.

I hope to see KIDS go from strength to strength and continue their amazing work with local families for another 50 years!”