Two of Norfolk’s leading SEND charities unite

The SENsational families team, which has recently joined Nansa 

The SENsational families team, which has recently joined Nansa - Credit: SENsational Families / Nansa

Two Norfolk based charities, the Norfolk and Norwich SEND Association (Nansa) and SENsational Families, have been working collaboratively throughout the pandemic to ensure ongoing support for families of children and adults with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

SENsational Families provides help and advice to families in Norfolk with children and young people affected by special educational needs or disabilities. The service supports parents from pregnancy through to birth, childhood and then young people up to 25 years old. Parents can self-refer to a family advisor support system for face-to-face and virtual support groups. 

Alongside Nansa, the charity’s support groups have provided opportunities for parents and carers to further educate themselves in areas that will help them understand and care for their child more effectively, while increasing public awareness of special educational needs and disabilities. 

The collaboration began in 2020 when Nansa approached SENsational Families to appear in their documentary Navigating the New Normal. The film, which is available on YouTube, documented how each service adapted during the initial lockdown period and throughout 2020. 

After the film’s release, funding was secured for SENsational Families to deliver weekly support and advice groups out of the Nansa Family Centre on Woodcock Road in Norwich. 

Leon Smith, chief Executive at Nansa

Leon Smith, chief Executive at Nansa - Credit: Angela Sharpe Photography

Leon Smith, CEO at Nansa, said: “Hosting the family support groups has been a real success. The Family Support advisors from SENsational Families have an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience supporting families with SEND. Their advice service wonderfully complements the specialist provision Nansa already provides.” 

The collaboration between Nansa and SENsational Families has proven so successful the trustees of both charities formed a joint planning committee to discuss whether a merger could ensure increased support for families and better long-term sustainability for both organisations. This resulted in SENsational Families formally joining Nansa. 

Margaret Smith, Nansa trustee and chair of the joint planning committee, said: “We were thrilled at the possibility of formally uniting with SENsational Families. Our collaborative work throughout 2021 has shown how symbiotic and mutually beneficial working together could be. We are very excited about how our programme for families can now evolve and develop.” 

SENsational Families are the second SEND offering to formally join Nansa. In June 2021, the Disability Real Action Group of Norfolk (DRAGONs) joined the charity after many years of collaborative work.  

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Sarah Harrison, head of advocacy and participation at Nansa and DRAGONs lead, said: “Nansa is such an inclusive and welcoming home for SEND support programmes such as the DRAGONs project and SENsational Families. Formally joining forces will enrich the programmes and allow for growth and development with greater levels of support.” 

In October 2021, founder and CEO of SENsational Families, Nicki Price, made the decision to step down. She said: “I am so incredibly proud of what SENsational Families has achieved over the last few years. During my time as CEO I have met hundreds of inspirational families and I am continually in awe of our exceptional team, who go above and beyond to ensure those families get the support they need.  

“Although I am moving on to a new role, my support of SENsational Families will continue in an advisory role. We have ambitious and exciting plans ahead, and I cannot wait to see the programme evolve throughout 2022.” 

John Sorrel, chair of trustees at Nansa, said: “We are delighted to welcome SENsational Families to Nansa and are so grateful to their former CEO Nicki and trustees for their support throughout the planning and due-diligence process. Their guardianship to date has seen SENsational Families grow into a vital and much-loved service accessed by hundreds of beneficiaries countywide. We thank them for entrusting Nansa to facilitate the next chapter in their story and we look forward to working alongside our new colleagues.” 

Nikki Lamb and Michelle Williams, the founders of Unbound, a design and education agency for charities

Nikki Lamb and Michelle Williams, the founders of Unbound, a design and education agency for charities - Credit: Unbound

Nansa was also delighted to learn that it is one of a number of local charities chosen by new creative agency Unbound for support with their brand, messaging and public communication in 2022.  

The brainchild of Nikki Lamb and Michelle Williams, Unbound's mission is to educate and empower charities. The duo will assist Nansa throughout 2022 by looking at ways the charity can better emphasise and showcase their support for those with SEND.  

To learn more about the Norfolk and Norwich SEND Association, visit their website www.nansa.org.uk or follow them on social media by searching for @NansaNorfolk

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