Mum of girl with Down's syndrome sets up support group to offer help closer to home

Six-year-old Bethany Parr with parents Beverley and Ian
Six-year-old Bethany Parr with parents Beverley and Ian

A mother who wanted to go to a support group with her daughter closer to home has decided to set up her own.

Beverley Parr struggled to find somewhere to go with her six-year-old daughter Bethany, who has Down’s syndrome, where they could meet people in similar situations and share their experiences.

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So she joined forces with three other mums and set up her own group in Leigh.

She said: “There is absolutely nothing in Leigh where parents can go with their children to chat, hang out, have a coffee. We learn from each other as well as find other people have advice and things to help.

“For us to go somewhere with like-minded people, we were having to go to St Helens or Bolton. It was ridiculous to travel out of Leigh.”

Happy Days Special Needs Community Group was born and is open to the families of all with additional needs, not just those with Down’s syndrome, as well as people without a diagnosis.

Beverley said: “The first meeting was excellent, it was mega. We had 17 families altogether. For a first-time group, it was ‘wow’.”

While only five families attended the second meeting, Beverley believes this was due to the summer holidays and attendance will improve next time.

The group meets monthly and there are toys for children, an arts and crafts table, and a special guest such as a face painter.

The chairs are arranged in a way to encourage parents to get to know each other.

They can chat about their experiences, share advice and help each other.

Beverley says this is particularly helpful for parents whose children have just been diagnosed and may not know about the help on offer.

Members have decided to raise money to get equipment, such as iPads and games consoles for older children, as well as to pay for activities.

Beverley said: “We are raising money to give the children a nice Christmas party. We want to start taking them out on educational trips or trips to enjoy themselves, like to the seaside.”

They are organising a fund-raiser, which will be held at 2.30pm on Sunday, August 25 at All Saints’ Church Hall, on Kenwood Avenue, Leigh.

The event is open to all and will include stalls, a barbecue, games and raffles.

There are also plans for a vintage tea and fashion show on Friday, November 29 at Leigh Miners RLFC.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the support group is encouraged to go along to the fund-raiser later this month or join the Happy Days Special Needs Community Group page on Facebook.