TV’s Strictly Come Dancing star Alesha Dixon is supporting a campaign to help families of the 770,000 disabled children in the UK.
Alesha said: “My younger brother has cerebral palsy so I understand how easy it can be for close family members of a disabled child to feel isolated and alone – not because there aren’t enough people around, but because no one you know can relate to your experience.
A new report from national charity Contact a Family says three quarters of families with disabled children are becoming more and more isolated and stressed out.
Almost half of the 1,100 families who took part in the survey reported feeling so unwell that they have asked their GP for medication or to see a counsellor.
And 65 per cent feel isolated frequently or all of the time.
Contact a Family is now calling on local authorities to provide sufficient early intervention services such as key workers, children’s centres, support groups and short breaks.
And the charity is urging the Government not to go back on its promise to protect vulnerable families and to ensure planned welfare reform changes don’t increase isolation.
Srabani Sen, chief executive of Contact a Family, said: “Isolation is having a devastating impact on the health and well being of some of society’s most vulnerable families.
“We are extremely concerned that this is going to get worse in the current economic climate because of a lethal combination of cuts to statutory and voluntary services as well as a reduction in families’ income due to welfare reforms.
“Effective early intervention services and financial help allow families with disabled children to take control of their lives, hold down a job, be more involved in their community and feel less isolated.
“They also ensure that disabled children can participate fully in society and enjoy fun social opportunities.”
Lorraine Hockey, mum to 18 year old Kassie who has Rett Syndrome, said: “Caring has impacted heavily on our daily lives and our work. We are self employed and when Kassie is unwell there is simply no option but for us to care for her leaving our business closed.
“It is difficult finding the time to be with family and friends because we are often tired and stressed due to having so many disturbed nights of sleep and suitable childcare is extremely difficult to find.
“Kassie is a beautiful amazing young lady, she is worth every second of all of it, but we do need some proper support.”
One in five (21%) say that isolation has led to a break up of their family or marriage.
Over half (56%) reported that the cause of their isolation is due to a lack of support from statutory services such as social services and the education system.
54% say that not having the time or money to do things that other families do makes them feel isolated.
57% said that they were not able to work as much as they would like to.
50% feel that their isolation has been caused by the discrimination or stigma they have experienced.
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