A Family Support Project

Project location: UNITED KINGDOM, West Midlands
Project start date: March 2001 - Project end date: March 2002
Project number: 2000-06
Beneficiary: KIDS

The KIDS project is going on well. At this point also the second year of support by the NPF to the Birmingham based Centre for disabled children is coming to an end. The problems to be solved are always the same and regard the twofold difficulty of having a disabled child and of belonging to different ethnic and religious groups in England. All the more if the ethnic group is Arabic and the religion is Islamic. Often ignorance worsens the already desperate economic and social situation of a mother with a disabled child. For example there was a case of an Arab mother accused by her parents in law of being cursed and of being the cause of the child's illness. The Islamic community wouldn't even allow her to visit her child in hospital.

The role of these social workers, that belong to the same ethnic groups of the families they assist, is to become "friends" of the mothers, or at least gain their confidence, making them understand the advantages of social assistance, enabling them to take advantage of it. The social workers help the mothers to fill in the forms to request social subsidies, and assist them trough all the bureaucratic procedures. Then they organised a Saturday Club where children can play supervised by psychologists and the mothers can meet and share their problems. They activated a telephone line for help requests on everyday problems.

In many cases the loneliness of these women becomes depression and incapacity of looking after the disabled child: therefore the possibility of having a reference point through the KIDS Centre enables them to escape from isolation and share with other women their problems. At present the social workers of Birmingham assist 72 families with house visits at least twice a week. From February to July 2002 they made 421 visits. They accompany them at the hospitals, mainly to assist them with the language. They organise excursions (for Easter they visited a chocolate factory and in July they went to Drayton amusement park) buy them toys (many children, with disabilities or without, don't have anything to play with) and teach mothers how to play with their children.

Working for children with special needs

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