Across the country, children with additional needs and their families are waiting up to several years to access health and day-to-day needs support from local authorities.
A newly formed local charity, Growing Hope, High Wycombe, is providing a vital service by filling the gap and offering free therapy for children, young people, and their families of all faiths and none to enable them to flourish and reach their developmental potential.
Inspired by Growing Hope hubs in London and recognising a number of families in need of support in the local area, the Revd Heather Graham, Vicar of St James Church Downley, established Growing Hope High Wycombe with support from other churches in the town. Grants from the Development Fund and Buckinghamshire Community Board Fund, and generous fundraising from local congregations helped cover the start-up cost of the charity.
Heather shares more about the project and partnership with local churches:
“Growing Hope bridges the gap between the church and the community which is one of the many positive outcomes of the project, it enables our neighbours to know that we are there for them and they are welcome in the church.
“Establishing the support of other churches in High Wycombe was an important part of forming the new hub. It enables us to serve the whole community and reach more people through church connections in the long term. By working together, we can offer the space for regular therapy sessions at St James’, share volunteers and fundraising opportunities to continue growing the provision.”
At the end of April, along with the help of a client parent, Estelle is launching a siblings group in the neighbouring primary school, The Disraeli School. The group will provide a supportive and welcoming space for children with siblings with additional needs to share their experiences and feelings.
As the programme develops, Estelle and Heather hope to increase the number of therapy sessions to reach more families and bring additional support in the form of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and children’s counsellors. There are already 25 families on the waiting list for Growing Hope so expanding the provision is a key priority for the hub.
Estelle shares how Growing Hope is making a difference to local families:
“Without Growing Hope each of the families we work with would still be waiting for therapy support from their local authority that they so vitally need. In just a few months, we’ve seen significant changes in the development of the babies and the children are growing in confidence. It is really rewarding to see how much they have progressed in such a short time.”
The Development Fund
Has this inspired you to think about starting a support group in your church for children with additional needs and their families?
The development fund seeks to enable missional creativity and assist churches in the Diocese of Oxford with their visions to become more Christ-like and support their local communities. It is open to all parishes and benefices in the diocese and especially those with limited financial resources to invest in missional activity.
The deadline to apply for the next round of funding is 31 July 2022, find out more and apply on the Development Fund page of our website.
Growing Hope is a charity providing free therapy for children and young people aged 0-18 with additional needs in partnership with local churches. They also provide support for parents, carers and siblings through groups and courses. The High Wycombe therapy clinic is open for referrals for children and families living in the area.