Bonny Downs Community Association

Supporting children and carers

The first five years are crucial in a child’s development. But, if you suspect your child has autistic spectrum condition (ASC), working out how and where to get support is challenging. Bonny Downs Community Association (BDCA) in Newham, east London is bringing the services and support children and their families need together in one place in the Growing Well project.

We’re delighted to award BDCA £24,991 for Growing Well. Our grant will fund a weekly toddler and carer play group for any local preschool children under the age of five whose parents suspect they may have ASC or another form of learning disability. BDCA are working with Newham’s learning, communication and interaction service (LCIS), Mencap and West Silvertown Foundation (WSF) to make Growing Well a reality. Our grant will fund face-to-face parent training courses led by experts from Mencap and LCIS in WSF’s community centre. As many as 320 carers and their children will benefit from Growing Well.

  • At least 320 children and carers will benefit from Growing Well play groups and parenting skills workshops over a year.
  • Last year BDCA delivered 82,842 hours of community services to 2,748 people.
  • BDCA supports people of all ages in Newham with activities for under-5s, school age children, adults and the over 65s.

Learning through play

Like all play groups Growing Well will have toys and healthy snacks and give children the chance to make friends. But it will also have a communication skills area with basic sign language and eye contact exercises, and a life skills area teaching cutlery use, dressing and potty-training techniques so children are equipped to start school. A sensory play area and a quiet play zone will cater for children prone to sensory overload. The group will be led by BDCA’s experienced play workers, a special education needs and disability (SEND) play consultant and SEND professionals from Mencap and LCIS. A signposting zone will tell families about specialist courses, peer support groups, disability welfare benefits and healthcare assessments.

Every other month experts from Mencap and LCIS will run Growing Well parent training courses in WSF’s community centre. Children are welcome too, so parents can practice the communication techniques they learn straight away with the support of encouraging teachers. Both the play group and training courses are free.

“Kusuma’s grant will empower us to break down the barriers to SEND services that marginalised families face, bring diverse families with SEND together to support each other, and build up skill levels so these special children can thrive and reach their potential.”

Bonny Downs Community Association

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