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Featured: Hannah and Annette’s story, Tuesday Youth Club

  • By MencapUsr
  • 8th May 2019

Hannah has been a member of Tuesday Youth Club since March 2017. Hannah’s mum, Annette shares their story and how it has had a big impact for both of them.

Hannah’s overall well-being has improved since joining the youth club. Due to our locality, services for children are limited and I’d go as far as to say that for someone with Hannah’s complex needs, inclusivity has been ‘hard to find’. I recognised as a parent that Hannah has a right to play alongside her peers but I also found it’s easy to lose confidence in taking your child out.

Before Hannah started at Leeds Mencap, I was really concerned about ‘social isolation’, but my fears have now gone, as she’s been able to explore all sorts of activities with other young people. 

She’s having fun and although she’s non-verbal, she laughs, claps and jumps to let you know she’s happy.

It has enabled Hannah to be part of a community, and to stretch her imagination. She’s had experiences that support her physical growth as well as her social and emotional development.

As an example, they had a sensory session soon after Hannah started, to explore new environments and textures. As Hannah has visual impairment, floor surfaces, lighting and room size can affect her ability to understand the world. Having this experience early on had a direct influence on her confidence to move independently within the building and to feel happy there.

Hannah is now more confident and happier, and I feel this comes a lot from the planning and the dedication of staff and ‘valuing’ each child as an individual. Hannah’s needs are complex – she has visual impairment, autism and severe learning delay – yet each week the staff are consistent in their approach which is excellent. They do this by understanding each child and giving ‘time’.

The club has also given me emotional support, as I get to meet other families in the parents room who have difficulties and challenges. It means that I can share information and discuss issues in a respectful group, with a bond of trust and honesty— we can develop the parent community, and we meet up now outside of Leeds Mencap.

It’s good for your health!

I feel motivated by the positive staff and encouraged that Hannah is doing so well. I felt insecure at first, thinking maybe they wouldn’t want Hannah. I really feel that I would have been more isolated if I hadn’t found this group. It’s also great that it’s weekly, as it helps my family have our own time, for example. Hannah’s sister had the space and time to revise for her exams.

I can see a future with Leeds Mencap and I’m looking for Hannah to join the Me 2 Dance group.

How your money helps: £50 pays for a sensory percussion workshop for Tuesday Youth Club to help children express themselves and build confidence in social groups.

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