Supporters get behind #SNAPAwarenessWeek
Following the success of our inaugural SNAP Awareness Week last year we are hoping that SNAP’s amazing supporters will get involved with raising the charity’s profile and helping to raise funds to allow us to continue our vital work supporting more than 2,800 families. Here’s some inspiring stories from 2019…
Posted Thursday 27th June
SNAP in-Spires local hospital to raise cash
Staff at a Brentwood hospital are stepping out to support SNAP with a very special challenge.
The fearless fundraisers from Spire Hartswood Hospital aim to raise £1,000 by doing 1,000km between them, with the money raised being split between two charities – one of them being Brentwood-based SNAP. The other charity that Spire Healthcare has chosen is THET, a small London-based charity founded in 1988 that is working hard to provide global access to healthcare.
The initiative is part of a national fundraising challenge organised by Spire Healthcare.
Jo Dean, Hospital Director, Spire Hartswood Hospital, said: “At Spire Hartswood Hospital we offer a Children and Young People’s Service, so we know how incredibly important it is for children and their parents to have the support of SNAP in the community.
“As a hospital we have organised a number of physical activities and events to gain the kilometres and also get members of staff involved during work hours!”
The activities include:
– daily lunchtime walks
– bike and treadmill 30 minute slots in their Physiotherapy gym and Bupa Health Centre
– an 80’s themed #ThrowbackThursday spin class at Studio 360 Fitness, Billericay. With master trainer for Stages Indoor Cycling, Andy Flack.
– a bike ride through Thorndon Country Park
– a group dog walk
“Everyone in our hospital has been very involved and motivated to come together for an amazing cause. We feel that because this is for a local charity that everyone can understand why it is so important,” said Angelli Miranda, Senior Business Development Executive at the Hospital.
“We regularly see the amazing work SNAP does and how it changes people’s lives. There are very few charities in the community that do similar work and we know how incredibly important it is for children and parents/guardians to have SNAP in the community. Many families feel isolated and have no support but SNAP gives them the guidance, empowerment and strength to become better equipped to give the best possible help to their children.”
- The Hartswood heroics coincide with our own “Step Out For SNAP” initiative designed for supporters to raise money by completing distance tasks at their own pace.
Posted Wednesday 26th June
Daring young people inspired to take on ‘horror spa’ for SNAP
Ten young supporters will undergo a ‘horror spa’ to raise funds for a Brentwood-based charity SNAP during its Awareness Week.
Like something from I’m A Celebrity, the youngsters will brave a variety of treatments including a Live Maggot Foot Spa, Fish Slop Fish Pack and a Baked Beans bath!
Each supporter is being nominated by sponsors to take on one of 10 different and equally gross challenges and the ‘treatment’ with the highest bid for each volunteer will be the one they have to endure for a good cause.
The young people – aged between 10 and 16 – are all part of a group of kind-hearted volunteers called ‘Lucy’s Little Stars.’
This group meets twice a month on a Saturday afternoon to provide friendship and play for children with complex disabilities.
This group was formed by Lucy Morgan and her family two years ago along with other like-minded families.
Lucy’s mum, Catherine, explains why the group and her family are getting behind SNAP’s Awareness Week. This is her story.
“I’ve taken the decision to support SNAP by sharing our story to shine a light on the ways in which SNAP has supported our family over the past decade,” explains Catherine.
“Our son, William, was born almost 10 weeks early and we knew from the outset that he’d experienced a significant brain haemorrhage. The doctors told us to ‘take him home and enjoy him’ and ‘to wait and see’. I spent the next 10 months making bargains with myself… ‘just give him the use of his arms’ I’d think to myself… ‘just let him talk’… ‘Just one good hand’.
“I can picture the exact room where we sat to hear William’s diagnosis, and I still have the hand-written verdict of the consultant – Cerebral Palsy affecting all four limbs. My heart broke and our world crashed. I hadn’t fully acknowledged it at the time, but a member of the SNAP team was also sat in that room. They were in these so that they could catch families like ours, and catch us they did. Thank god they did.”
“The paperwork that comes with having a child like William is overwhelming, sometimes degrading, and regularly makes you rake over the detail of what he can’t do until it smacks you right in the face. William is entitled to Disability Living Allowance. In fact, his disability is profound enough to earn him the highest ‘mobility component’.
“This scheme gives us access to a Blue Badge, and the right to own an adapted vehicle. To apply, you have to complete a form containing 71 questions about his abilities and what it’s like to care for him right down to whether he can hold a toothbrush, and if not, how many minutes it takes me to brush his teeth for him (amongst other more personal things).
“SNAP knows how this can affect a parent’s psyche. By the time you finish, you aren’t left in any doubt how disabled your child is. It’s like pouring a full salt cellar on an open heart wound. So the first time you have to go through this, SNAP do it with you. They provide a specialist to keep you objective (substitute for sane), and remind you that this is just a form, this is not your child.
“I remember being at a parent session at SNAP. I don’t recall the exact purpose of it now, but we were discussing our various challenges and trying to help each other. One parent was talking about something very difficult they were facing. Her child presented a lot like William, but they can talk. And they’d voiced everything I’d always feared William would feel. “Why can’t they be like the other children?
“It broke me to hear those words. I couldn’t help but cry, although there is always a box of tissues to hand at SNAP, but this time I just couldn’t get the lid back on and eventually I excused myself from the meeting and left. A few days later I got a call from SNAP asking whether I might like to see their counsellor. I said yes, and I have no qualms in admitting that I’ve used counselling a number of times when I have to express worries and doubts that I don’t want to give my friends and family. I learned that if I can be strong, happy and at peace – then William stands a much better chance at being happy too.
When Catherine’s three children were all pre-school age SNAP was a welcome haven and the only place that the young family could visit to play.
‘When the boys were born, my daughter Lucy was just two-years-old. So for a long while I had three pre-school children and finding places to go where I didn’t need to take help was almost impossible – so we played a lot at home. William had many sensory issues (the wind, different smells etc) aside from the fact that I’d not really discovered yet that he was also visually impaired. My other mummy friends would propose meet ups at local attractions but there was no way I could go there with my three and manage alone.
“The only place I could take my three on my own to play was SNAP. Their weekly pre-school play sessions were a godsend. The toys were lovely, the biscuits free flowing, and the army of volunteers meant that I could relax and enjoy play as it should be.
“For many years William had a Friday morning music therapy session at SNAP. Music therapy was supported by their brilliant volunteers and it helped William to grow in confidence with these new people. It also taught me to embrace the long game (a skill I definitely needed and didn’t have). His trust and then positive responses to the music and the volunteers grew slowly but surely. I’ve since learned to use music therapy to support William’s social and emotional well-being, securing this as part of his formal Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) so that it can help him express himself.
“SNAP has been there for our whole family. For numerous years, Lucy and George have been awarded a place at SIBS4FUN – a annual fun-packed week which aims to give those siblings, who might miss out on opportunities because of their family circumstances, a week to remember. For four days, they put the siblings at the front and centre of attention. The siblings of special children don’t often have their needs put first. Pretty much all our family outing and holiday choices are made to suit William first and them second, let alone the day to day time challenges meaning they have to be patient to get our time.
Catherine hopes that by sharing her family’s story she will help to demonstrate the extent of the services SNAP has offered to more than 5,000 families since the charity formed 25 years ago. She is urging everyone to share her family story to help raise funds and awareness for the charity so that SNAP can continue to support other special families for the next 25 years and beyond.
“When we outgrew SNAP’s pre-school services it was hard. They know that the early years are some of the toughest and they concentrate as many resources as they can on this phase. We tried Cubs, but William struggled to cope with after school activity, and I always had to go along too to manage his personal care, which meant Lucy had to come as well – one trip to Cubs for William became a family outing and this was a little weird for everyone.
After a while I realised we were becoming quite isolated. We didn’t go to many places at weekends and William was really only ever playing games at home with me.
“SNAP noticed this happening to a number of families, and set up ‘Sensorise’ a holiday play session dedicated to children with complex needs like William, which was brilliant.
“It was then that SNAP gave me a book from their specialist library to read (in 2018 they gave out over 3000 information resources from their library to parents like me). They were smart. They knew I would struggle to find time to read a whole book so they just picked out the pages that they thought might help and delivered it to me personally.
“That book talked about building a village around your child. That seed of an idea became William’s Saturday Friendship Group. It started at my house but we soon out grew the space and now we host it at the Recoil Trampoline Centre. We include music therapy, siblings come every week, and Lucy and her friends provide the play support for the special kids so that they can have friendship and play with people their own age.”
Last year SNAP provided:
* 649 face-to-face parent advice appointments.
* 570 counselling sessions for parents and families.
* 346 children and young people attended clubs and activities ranging from the pre-school groups that Catherine’s family enjoyed, to after school drama clubs.
Posted Tuesday 25 June
Let’s get muddy for money!
Ziplines and water slides are among those obstacles awaiting a group of Brentwood friends who are preparing to get muddy for money.
Dean Hassan and his friends are taking part in SNAP’s bespoke Fun Mud Run after Dean first heard about the work of the charity at a networking event.
“Visiting The SNAP Centre and seeing the work they do, with the passion displayed, makes it a very worthy cause,” said Dean, Founder of local business, Concept Original.
“There are so many families who rely on SNAP that all of us doing the mud run are keen to raise as much money as possible. Only two of us have ever done something similar. The rest are in for a shock!”
Posted Monday 25th June
Richard is SNAP’s King of the Road
SNAP supporter Richard King is emulating the Brentwood-based charity with success in the long run!
To mark SNAP’s 25th Anniversary, Richard has pledged to mirror this milestone by completing 25 long distance runs in aid of the charity.
He is already more than halfway through his ambitious challenge, having completed 13 runs. In addition to raising money and awareness for SNAP, there are other unexpected bonuses for Richard.
“I have now lost two stone in weight and my Mum tells me I am looking younger,” laughs Richard. “Before this challenge I ran occasionally to keep up a degree of fitness and over the previous four years I ran about 40 Park Runs.
“This year alone, I have run at least 12 Park Runs and a further 20-25 training runs as far afield as Cornwall and other parts of the country.”
His determination to keep on running is fuelled by his admiration for SNAP.
“I was staggered to find SNAP on our doorstep when we started looking for a local charity to support. I can see that SNAP really does fill a massive void. The families and wider networks of people who have additional needs are often forgotten. In an ideal world SNAP would be able to grow over the next few years into something that is able to help more and more families,” he says.
Richard’s fundraising has now reached £1,000 and he has been raising awareness of his challenge through social media and email communication through his own business – The Cotton Textile Company.
“Now I am over the half way mark I want to spread the word, increase SNAP’s profile and hopefully add some more money to my fundraising pot.”
In the meantime there’s the small matter of completing the remaining 12 races and runs including taking on the SNAPFunMudRun next weekend before Richard can enjoy a well earned pint at his favourite pub in Cornwall.
Posted Saturday 22nd June
Young theatre stars helping to ensure a bright future for SNAP
Youngsters from a Brentwood theatre school are taking centre stage to raise funds for a local charity’s Awareness Week.
The children and young people from Razzamataz Theatre School in Brentwood will be holding a ‘non-uniform’ day at their club this Saturday by wearing bright colours and making a donation in support of SNAP.
Razzamataz provides dance, drama and singing classes for kids aged between 4 and 18-year-old and offers a great place for all attendees to express themselves creatively supported by a teaching team who all have backgrounds in the performing arts.
“We have various performances throughout the year, the main one being our end of year show which this year was at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon,” says tutor and SNAP Ambassador, Owen Thompson.
“The group also performs annually at local community events including the Strawberry Fair and Lighting up Brentwood and Shenfield over the festive period.’
Owen has encouraged the children and young people to support SNAP after seeing the difference the charity makes to local families.
“I first heard about SNAP through some volunteering I was doing for a previous Brentwood Mayor, Mark Reed. I was keen to hear more about what SNAP did and was invited to take a tour of their centre,” says Owen.
“I was blown away by the facilities and most of all by the energy and enthusiasm of all of the staff. It’s incredible what they achieve. I felt inspired to fundraise after seeing first hand the importance of the service they provide to the families of Essex and I feel passionately that they must continue this incredible work.”
“SNAP is such as massive part of the fabric of Brentwood and Essex and is essential to so many families it must continue another 25 years and beyond, and the Razzmataz family are delighted to be able to contribute towards that goal.”
More stories to follow in the coming days