Downs Syndrome charity nominated for wellbeing awards
A charity supporting Down’s Syndrome children has been nominated for the Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards.
21 Together was set up in 2016 by parents who recognised the lack of support for children with Down’s Syndrome in the county.
The awards showcase dedication towards those struggling with mental health issues through the themes of kindness and compassion; wellbeing; and mental health.
Nominations are accepted from the Kent, Medway, Bromley and Bexley areas up until 1st September and these can be for a standalone act of kindness that had a positive impact, a charity or statutory organisation with a particular drive to support a mental health issue, or an organisation that has improved its staff wellbeing.
21 Together’s aim is to both provide support services that were found to be lacking in the county, and to also raise awareness and implement training for professionals.
To sustain this, 21 Together gives children with Down’s Syndrome access to skills required to support them in society and have an equal start in life to their peers. This is made possible as family members and professionals are educated to enable them to assist people with Down’s Syndrome.
A particularly essential part of the different elements of the charity is the fact that they bring attention to the achievements acquired by people with Down’s Syndrome as well as understanding the positive effect the community has on the world as a whole. This demonstrates a clear example of inclusion and union, further supporting those with Down’s Syndrome and their wellbeing. Something that makes the organisation so unique is the people it is made up of. The trustees of 21 Together are from a vast range of backgrounds; business owners, specialist teachers, to lawyers and physios. This works alongside the values of the organisation, as the range of skills amongst the trustees coupled with the highly-trained staff at the charity allows them to make sure the children receive the utmost support which has been identified as missing from Kent.
There are numerous support groups available at the organisation which include: communication groups, early intervention groups, holiday camps and training. These as well as the many courses further support clients.
Courses are accessible to everyone, as the charity has a polcy of heavily contributing to the cost of the courses so financial issues do not become a barrier for a child or parent receiving support.
Divided across five regional hubs in Kent and Medway, assistance and guidance is provided by trained staff for those at all different stages, whether it be in pregnancy or transition to school and education.The aim is to provide support at any point of life for people with Down’s Syndrome.
During the Covid pandemic 21 Together faced challenges and barriers. All support sessions were moved online in the form of live video conferencing sessions as well as pre-recorded pieces for parents to utilise whilst at home in lockdown. The members of the organisation were continuously paying attention to those who they were supporting and would update their approach accordingly.
Amongst this it was discovered that parents of pre-school age children with Down’s Syndrome were particularly struggling, as they found it difficult to find any form of organised learning for their children. This resulted in the creation of Teach Me Too. This project was developed to enable the strain on families to be eased and support to be given to professionals who were carrying out their jobs, despite the added pressures of the pandemic. The project was in the form of an online video learning library for children with Down’s Syndrome and the reaction from the national Down’s Syndrome community was so great that in January 2021, 21 Together was able to further support parents and children with Down’s Syndrome by providing the online library on a national and international level.
As Downs Syndrome children approach teenage years the organisation teaches skills young adults need such as how to use phone apps safely and managing finances. By giving these young adults these skillset, it gives them a newfound independence for when they transition into adulthood.
21 Together’s dedication demonstrates why they are a worthy nomination for the 2023 Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards.
The awards are organised by the mental health charity Mind in Bexley and East Kent and are supported by a range of organisations in the sector.
To submit a nomination visit www.kentmentalwellbeingawards.org.uk