The National Blind Children’s Society’s (NBCS) family support service has a base in Guide Dogs’ (GD) London office in Melton Street, London NW1, and is managed by NBCS’s London Family Support Officer Jenny Holder.
A social worker, Jenny is highly experienced in supporting families of children and young people who are visually impaired and has been on the staff of NBCS for more than four years.
Her work covers all the London boroughs, with the main aim of enabling families to live as independently as possible. She helps them to empower themselves so that they can be proactive in accessing the information, support and statutory entitlements when possible for themselves.
This in turn reduces feelings of isolation and, by ensuring that their needs are met, makes them feel part of society as a whole.
The needs of the families – who come from a wide range of ethnic groups – on Jenny’s caseload vary considerably, and cover educational, emotional, recreational and social issues, as well as practical matters such as dealing with government and other agencies.
As with all NBCS family support, Jenny works from first diagnosis with young people of all ages, from birth through to completion of full-time education and the transition to employment and the adult world. She is a member of the wider NBCS Family Support and Information team, based in Birmingham, which covers the whole of mainland UK.
Jenny’s cases can include her input in some or all of the following:
Home adaptation – referring on to occupational therapists to carry out an assessment
Housing – negotiating with local authority housing departments to arrange for families to be rehoused
Working with the professional teams involved in care of children and adults with disabilities to carry out assessments of their needs and helping them with respite, carers, activities and other areas of support as necessary.
Ensuring that the families are in receipt of the benefits they are entitled to and, depending on their circumstances, support them in their applications for other benefits such as the Family Fund, etc.
Representing families at multi-agency and multi-disciplinary meetings, involving interacting with many key statutory and voluntary organisations in the field.
Making home visits and accompanying parents on hospital visits as required.
A parent support group has also been set up through the NBCS London office, which is open to families from the whole area for mutual support, socialising and the sharing of information.
In addition, families may be referred to the other support services offered by NBCS nationwide, including educational advice and support; access to personalised ICT, sensory and other specialist equipment for school and home; day and weekend family events plus social, holiday and adventure activities when funds allow; large-print fact and popular fiction titles and revision guides, tailormade to the requirements of children’s individual eye conditions.