In November, Sense was delighted to feature in the BBC Lifeline Appeal.
Lifeline is a monthly 10-minute programme broadcast on the BBC, highlighting the work of a charity and appealing for donations to support its activities. The appeal aims to provide an opportunity for raising money and awareness to a variety of charities.
The Sense Lifeline focused on the vital support we provide to families and children with deafblindness and other complex disabilities.
Hosted by Rebecca Front, the film featured three families, the Conways, Merediths and Clucas’ who demonstrated how Sense were a lifeline for them when they've needed help most.
Thank you to everyone that watched and supported the appeal. Your support makes such a big difference as it enables us to continue to be there for families when they need us most.
When we find out how much the appeal has raised we will announce it on this page and through social media. Thank you.
Presented by celebrated actress and Sense supporter
“I’m honoured to be backing this appeal for Sense – a charity that supports children and adults with complex disabilities.
As a parent, I can only imagine how devastating it would be to receive the news that my child had limited sight and hearing and other disabilities. How alone I’d feel as I tried to come to terms with the fact that their future would be different to the way I’d imagined it.
Sense ensures families aren’t alone.
Staff at their Family Centres deliver specialist support for children and young people to help them learn and develop in a welcoming environment where families can come together, share experiences and forge friendships.
For many families, it’s a lifeline.
I’ve seen the difference Sense make to people’s lives. By making a donation today, you can ensure Sense are there for more families and children when they need it most.”
Meet the families who feature in the appeal
Andrew and Nikki were devastated when Mia and Charlie were diagnosed with a rare condition that meant their children were born blind, unlikely to ever walk or speak.
“They are the most beautiful children” Andrew says, “but discovering they had such a testing future forced us to grieve for the life we hoped they’d have.”
Things started to change when the family began attending the Sense Family Centre in Peterborough. Nicola, who runs the service, helped the parents to discover ways of engaging with their children, ways to play and experience new activities, together as a family. For the first time they had discovered a place that focused on what the children could do, and they felt hopeful for the future.
The family now regularly visit the centre where they benefit from services such as a hydrotherapy pool, as well as meeting with other families, sharing experiences and forging friendships.
The Sense Family Centre has been a fixture in the Conway’s family’s life since the children were babies.
It was at the centre that their son, Ernie, who has Down’s syndrome and poor vision and hearing, was offered specialist support to learn sign language, while his parents, Richard and Helen, were offered guidance from other families in a similar situation.
Ted, Ernie’s twin brother, doesn’t have a disability, but he also benefits from support from Sense.
Sense know that being the young sibling of a child with complex disabilities can be difficult, as everyday family life will revolve around their brother or sister.
That’s why, in addition to offering holidays for people with disabilities, Sense organise breaks for young siblings of children with a disability.
On the break Ted participated in lots of fun activities, met other siblings, built friendships and enjoyed time dedicated to him.
His mother, Helen, says “Ted had an amazing time! He came back beaming and full of confidence.”
Logan first visited the Sense Family Centre in Bristol when he was just three months old. And it has been a huge part of the family’s life ever since.
Logan has cerebral palsy and brain damage, as well as limited vision and hearing. He needs specialist support to access and enjoy even simple activities. But in the safe and supported environment of the Sense centre, he thrives.
Through specialist play, Logan is supported to use the limited sight and hearing that he has, as well as his other senses, such as touch, to interact with the world around him and grow in independence.
The centre also offers emotional and practical support to parents often overwhelmed by the challenges they face caring for someone with complex disabilities.
Logan’s mum, Philippa, says: “Caring for a child with complex disabilities presents new challenges every day. Without the Sense centre, I would be lost.”