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Desperate donations plea from charity helping children with SEN as demand rockets

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:19 21 October 2019

Nicki Price, co-founder and manager of SENsational Families. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Nicki Price, co-founder and manager of SENsational Families. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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A charity supporting families with children with special educational needs (SEN) says it is in desperate need of funding to cope with overwhelming demand.

Norwich charity SENsational Families received a £150k Lottery grant in 2018 - but they say reserves are now running thin. Picture: Victoria PertusaNorwich charity SENsational Families received a £150k Lottery grant in 2018 - but they say reserves are now running thin. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

SENsational Families supports more than 1,600 families in Norfolk through one-to-one support sessions, parent training and advice, an online support group and meet-up groups in Norwich and Lyng.

With council special educational needs services under increasing pressure, demand on the organisation - which was founded in 2015 and gained charity status in 2017 - has ballooned.

And now the charity's three founders, all mothers of children with special educational needs, say they are reaching breaking point.

Just six months after opening for referrals for one-to-one parent support adviser appointments, the charity is over capacity with its two part-time workers supporting at least 40 families.

Manager and co-founder Nicki Price said demand was such that the charity had stopped taking referrals.

It is in desperate need of another part-time parent support adviser, but is facing a bill of £12,000 to employ one.

Ms Price said the team was applying "continuously" for grants but had so far been unsuccessful.

To help stump up the money the charity is appealing for donations and potential sponsorship and is holding a winter fundraiser on November 10 at Lyng Village Hall.

According to Ms Price, another part-time parent support adviser would enable the charity to support another 40 families a year.

"Autism Anglia has just pulled out of Norfolk for children and families so there are very few charities left out there doing one-to-one parent support," she said.

"We are helping parents with mental health needs, attending child protection meetings and meetings at schools, helping with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) and forms for PIP (personal independence payments) and other benefits. Our trustees sit on various steering groups at Norfolk County Council to put parents' voices forward."

Norfolk County Council is amid a £120m investment in special educational needs and disabilities education which will see at least three new special schools built, more specialist places created for children with SEND in mainstream schools and improvements to its EHCP team.

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