Two charities have teamed up to launch a counselling service for children and young people affected by motor neurone disease.
Children and young people affected by motor neurone disease (MND) can now access professional counselling within days thanks to a collaboration by two charities. The partnership between the MND Association and Barnardo’s will shave months off of the waiting times for counselling support.
“Parents with MND have always told that us one of their biggest worries is the impact of their diagnosis on their family,” explains Laura Willix, children and young person’s service development manager for the MND Association.
“The disease can progress rapidly and children and young people in need of help cannot wait months, and in some cases years, for vital support.”
Research from the MND Association found children whose close family members had been diagnosed with the terminal illness were having to wait up to 18 months to access vital counselling services. The new service will slash that waiting time to just five days.
“We are absolutely delighted to be working with the MND Association; having the opportunity to support children and young people to manage the challenges and anxieties that they may be facing,” reveals Sarah Wilkinson, operations manager at the Barnardo’s LINK Therapeutic Support Service.
The tailored counselling is available for children, young people and their families. It is based on the Barnardo’s 2020 Family Support Service which has supported hundreds of families dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The service has now been adapted specifically for families affected by MND.
Children and young people can access the counselling at any stage they need support – from diagnosis of a loved one to post-bereavement, with sessions held online or over the phone.
“Our new service will give children fast access to counselling sessions as soon as they need it,” emphasises Laura. “They can talk openly about their worries and fears to a counsellor with specialist MND knowledge who will help them deal with the difficult times ahead and hopefully go some way to alleviating the worries of the loved one facing the disease.”
The support provided by the new service will stretch further than these calls, therapists will also support and empower parents, giving them the tools, knowledge and access to resources to help younger children who may find it difficult to engage with sessions virtually.
“Both Barnardo’s and the MND Association clearly share core values around strengthening family relationships and promoting safer childhoods,” adds Sarah. “By working in partnership, I believe we can make a real difference to the families we work with.”
The service has been funded by the James Milner Foundation as part of its commitment to support children and young people affected by MND.