Perfect partners celebrate silver status
In 1994, two organisations began – one national and one local – both with a passion to make a difference in the local community. 25 years on, as both celebrate their 25th Anniversary, The National Lottery Community Fund and SNAP (Special Needs And Parents) have successfully made a huge positive impact for people in need of support.
Over the intervening years National Lottery players and The National Lottery Community Fund have been instrumental in helping SNAP’s growth.
SNAP was formed by a group of eight parents who have children with special needs and were concerned about the lack of provision for families in their local area. From humble beginnings around a kitchen table, they started a parents and toddlers group and over the next few years the help they gave families grew with specialist talks for parents, an educational resources library and a Helpline. In 1998 a grant from The National Lottery helped give the charity its first official office in Brentwood, Essex, and a credibility boost that really put SNAP on the map.
The SNAP Centre Opens
A few years later The National Lottery awarded a further grant to the charity which helped SNAP to move into their own bespoke facility. The SNAP Centre opened its doors in May 2007 and since then the services and activities have flourished. To date SNAP has supported more than 5,000 families.
“SNAP offers a lifeline to families with children and young people between the ages of 0-25 years who have any special need or disability, either with or without a diagnosis,” says Karen Boath, Director (Family Services).
“Our approach is to look after the whole family unit and be a reliable constant in their lives. Our experienced small team of Family Support Advisers offer a comprehensive approach that is tailored to each family’s needs.”
“We run pre-school sessions three times a week, plus after-school clubs like yoga and drama, we also have specialists who come in to give support with benefits and education queries. We currently have four counsellors who work for us and our counselling sessions are now running four days a week to cover the high need we have. We run Specialist Talks over the course of the year and at these we can have up to three hundred people through our building in one day. We also hold both large scale and smaller bespoke training for professionals to make sure they are learning the best ways to support the children they work with.
“To further meet the needs of all our families we continually update and share information online via our comprehensive directory of around 1,300 useful contacts and information network on our website. We also run a telephone and email Helpline.
“The SNAP Centre offers a non-judgemental and safe environment for families. We have a large activity hall and a multi-sensory room that features a wide range of specialist interactive equipment that stimulates development and encourages children and young people to explore their surroundings.
“We also have a comprehensive specialist library containing more than 2,000 books, hundreds of easy reference information sheets and specialist DVDs to grow parents’ knowledge and understanding.”
Three year grant awarded
In 2018, as pressures on frontline services continued to grow and the number of families seeking SNAP’s support continued to increase The National Lottery Community Fund awarded the charity a three-year grant for £205,000 towards their Helpline, Face-to-face advice sessions and information for parents such as SNAP’s Information Network. A further endorsement for SNAP’s essential work in empowering parents.
This grant has also enabled SNAP to re-imagine their website, offering parents and carers even greater online resources and support at the touch of a button.
“We continue to receive increasing contacts to our Helpline,” said Karen.
“In order to cope with demand whilst still delivering tailored, quality support we follow up each call with an email. These emails provide clear information and direct links to the advice discussed, including links through our Info Networks and upcoming online Directory. Helpline emails enable families to easily refer back to the information weeks later. Through helpline emails we are better able to provide a flexible, complimentary service as well as a convenient out-of-hours alternative.
“SNAP’s ultimate aim is to help families to help themselves,” said Christina Stubbs, Director (Finance and Fundraising.
“All of the support we provide is there to help parents and carers find the tools and knowledge they need to ensure they give the best possible help to their whole family.”
“We will raise a toast to The National Lottery Community Fund on its 25th Birthday on 19th November. Thanks for listening and collaborating with good causes and helping to strengthen communities across the UK to the tune of an incredible £40 billion over those 25 years.
“Their support of SNAP has helped us continue to be there for families across Essex who have a child or young person with an additional need or disability and for them to know they are not alone.”