03 February 2011

A county-wide information campaign Aiming High for Disabled Children Northamptonshire is being launched today (1 February) to make sure all families with disabled children, and the health, education and social care professionals they come into contact with, know how to get the information, advice and support they need.

It is estimated that there are over 3,000 disabled children and young people living in Northamptonshire but many families and disabled young people are failing to access the services and support they need because they’re not sure where to start.

Aiming High for Disabled Children Northamptonshire is a partnership between NHS Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire County Council that has been transforming services for families with disabled children in the county since 2008, by providing services that are easier to access and including disabled children and young people in mainstream services wherever suitable.

Victoria lives near Daventry with her husband and three children, the two youngest Alex (5) and Daniel (4) have both been diagnosed with Smith Lemli Opitz, a little known development disorder. She says:

“Being the parent of disabled children has its upsides and downsides. It is exhausting, not just physically but mentally. Both boys are still in nappies and require my full attention 24/7. We have daily physiotherapy and exercises which takes up a lot of time. I can’t work because it would cost so much in child care. I’ve found some services really supportive, so don’t be scared to ask for help like I was - seek out the services you need.”

Cllr Andrew Grant, county council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Families with disabled children already have access to the Families Information Service – a one-stop-shop of information about the support that is available to them, but we wanted to make sure as many people as possible knew how it could help them. This free service is available to parents, carers, young disabled people and professionals, so always make them your first port of call. As well as making more use of the Families Information Service, I’d urge everyone to get registered to receive the regular Special Needs Index newsletter to keep up to date on services, activities and more.”

Linda lives near Kettering with her husband and two children. Her 14 year old daughter, Lizzie, has learning disabilities and mental health problems.

“Although Lizzie is 14, mentally she is around eight years old. The impact on our life can only be described as an emotional rollercoaster. We constantly have to change the way we do things in order to fit around Lizzie. Last summer holidays we accessed one of the Aiming High for Disabled Children summer schemes. Lizzie went along and did some of the activities that were available and it was absolutely brilliant.”

Judith Cattermole, Joint Commissioner for Children and Young People for NHS Northamptonshire said: “We’re doing everything we can to make sure everyone – families, young disabled people and professionals can easily access information on what’s available. We’ve launched a website portal at www.aiminghighnorthants.co.uk, a Facebook page to help parents and carers support each other and share information; and we’re also distributing information cards widely across the county.”

The Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) programme was launched by the government in May 2007 to improve service provision for disabled children and their families. Government investment enabled a partnership between NHS Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire County Council to begin transforming their services for families with disabled children.

To find out more about Aiming High for Disabled Children Northamptonshire, how to register for the Special Needs Index newsletter and how the Families Information Service can help parents, carers and professionals go to www.aiminghighnorthants.co.uk