Edinburgh charity appeals for urgent donations to prevent closure
An Edinburgh-based charity which has helped to transform the lives of children with disabilities and other complex needs by supporting their families for more than 25 years has launched a major fundraising appeal to prevent its doors from closing.
Kindred, which is led by parents of children with disabilities, provides support for families of severely ill and/or disabled children in Scotland – often in stressful situations where parents don’t know where to turn.
But the charity says that, over the last six months, it has suffered unexpected cuts in external grant funding and, as a result, is facing a funding deficit of up to £80,000.
Therefore, it has issued an urgent public appeal via its JustGiving page to raise £40,000 before the end of September to secure Kindred’s future, including the jobs of two-thirds of its staff and its team at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.
Kindred says it’s currently in talks with Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government for the rest of the funding needed.
It says it needs the funding to continue its work addressing a wide range of issues for the families, such as coming to terms with their child’s health, securing specialist provision at school, providing emotional support to parents and siblings, helping families if they face financial difficulties and with applications for support, as well as with housing and mental health issues.
The charity claims many parents are ‘on the edge’ when they get in touch with Kindred and are only able to overcome the huge challenges they face due to the comfort and wisdom offered by its staff, most of whom are parents of children with disabilities and have experienced similar situations in their own lives.
Famous Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin has voiced his support for the charity, saying: “Kindred is a charity that’s been close to my heart ever since my son was born with special needs – over 20 years ago. I know first-hand the difference Kindred makes to families. With your help, they will continue to flourish and to offer support to those who need it.”
Christine Wright, whose 10-year-old son was ‘mown down by a stolen motorbike’ on Ferry Road in Edinburgh just last month, said she couldn’t have coped if it wasn’t for Kindred’s emotional and practical support.
She said: “Kindred has been amazing at one of the worst times of my life. When my son Cameron was admitted to the High dependency unit at RHSC following a motorbike hit and run incident, our family were traumatically plunged into a living nightmare of shock, fear and anger coupled with a high level of media and police involvement.
“Kindred came along just as I was ready to crack. I was tired, scared and worn out. The staff let me talk and cry but most importantly, they listened. We really couldn’t have coped without Kindred’s emotional and practical support.”
Tally Jackson-Dyke, whose son, Ridley, has Autism, says Kindred provided a ‘lifeline’ for her family.
She said: “We were at a real low and had just run out of energy to fight but Kindred picked us up and fixed everything. Going from a diagnosis to dealing with disability are miles apart and Kindred was there to provide support and help me acknowledge my dreams for my child needed to be adapted. Looking back six months, I would never have imagined that I’d be in full time employment or that my son would be perfectly settled in a wonderful school.”
A number of professionals have also backed the charity and appealed for financial support.
Dr Maia Forrester, a child and adolescent psychiatrist within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Learning Disability Team, said: “Kindred provides invaluable support for the families of the young people that we see in the CAMHS Learning Disability team. One of the families that I look after has a 16 year old boy who has a moderate-severe learning disability (LD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His LD, ASD and ADHD together severely impair his functioning and put a constant high level of strain on his family and on health, social care and educational services.
“The most fundamental factor underpinning his health and wellbeing is for his family to feel supported and understood, and for all the professionals involved to be able to communicate well with his family and with each other. Support from Kindred has facilitated all of these.”
Adam O’Brien, a parent and pupil support manager with Edinburgh City Council, said: “Kindred have a unique status as a charity working in the field of additional support needs in terms of the great size and breadth of their casework, their long experience and their contribution to national policy. Kindred provide an immensely valuable role in building resilience in families at a time of crisis and I have frequently heard parents say this at meetings I have attended.”
Sophie Pilgrim, Director of Kindred, said: “I am hopeful we can raise the funds needed to keep Kindred’s valuable service going. As a parent myself I have experienced some very difficult times. My son was born with a cleft palate which was not diagnosed until he was six weeks old and then, when he was slow to develop, I was told he might never walk. He was 15 years old before he was diagnosed with autism and a rare genetic condition.
“I experienced the stress of finding appropriate schooling and the anxiety when he became extremely ill and required treatment from Tier IV CAMHS. My role as Director of Kindred is a great privilege and I know from my own experience how much parents need our service.
“We have an amazing team and I hope that we will be able to continue to make life better for other families.”
Laura Macalister, who is pictured above with daughter Kaia, son Riley and mother Janet, said: “Since getting involved with kindred our family life now has purpose and direction. The services we have benefitted from include advocacy, charitable funding applications, understanding our rights, but most of all, they offer support from a place of understanding since they have been there before themselves. What they achieve on a daily basis for so many families like ours is truly remarkable.”