Dr Wendy Uttley founded the support group after her son Sam was born with the condition. Like many new parents of a baby with Down syndrome, she felt she needed specialised help but was met with a lack of support and understanding from both professionals and her social circle. In 2000 she decided to set up the group and help those in a similar situation.
National Lottery funding allowed the project to grow into a valuable service offering practical, educational and emotional support. The project helps the parents feel less alone and more confident and helps the youngsters to develop early skills, for example signing, through specific intervention sessions. The training courses, which teach people how to meet the specific requirements of children with Down syndrome, range from teaching basic number skills to how to tell the time and signing. Dr Uttley says “Over the years I have developed and now deliver 10 different training courses, many unique. Without Lottery funding I would not have had the capacity or time to achieve this kind of output and success. I am very proud of our journey and the level of care we provide to families and professionals.”
The service provides not only important support and information to families caring for a child with Down syndrome and the professionals who work with them; it also helps to increase understanding of it among wider society. For example, by delivering talks about it at school assemblies the project is helping to increase the awareness of future generations.