Your Stories

Alice’s story

Alice began accessing the portage service in 2016. Our home portage worker was amazing, she had a connection with our daughter…

Read more

Alice began accessing the portage service in 2016. Our home portage worker was amazing, she had a connection with our daughter and seemed to instinctively be aware of her needs which made us feel so confident in the advice she gave us on how to deal with different difficulties we were experiencing. She supported us for the next year signposting us to other services that are available.

I don’t believe our daughter would be where she is today without that early intervention she received and continues to receive at the early support nursery. We have also been great supporters of the Charity and help out where we can. We will always be great full.

Thanks Jill Owen and Declan Mc Ginty

Emilie’s Story

The Friends of Early Support have played a vital part supporting not just Emilie, but our family as a whole. Emilie started with Portage at two years old and they provided invaluable support and guidance to help us access the correct services and help us understand Emilie’s difficulties.

Read more

Kelly was amazing at building up a relationship with Emilie. She got Emilie to start paying attention, giving eye contact and even playing with toys, which felt like a real milestone had been achieved. This was also when Emilie started using PECS for simple exchanges, which allowed her to communicate her desires properly for the first time.

Emilie has been very lucky to attend the Early Support Nursery for two years, with its exceptional facilities and staff who have a wealth of knowledge, experience and dedication – something that has been reflected in the outstanding Ofsted reports they receive.

Emilie has built play and social interaction skills throughout her time at the nursery to a level we never quite expected, and this is down to the tailored facilities and expert staff that provide an environment for children like Emilie to thrive and grow. Emilie has also began to play and interact with other children and is progressing well with her PECS.

The nursery and portage staff, along with the Friends of Early Support, have become an extended family, providing encouragement during difficult times and teaching us to fight for what we believe in for Emilie and her future. Early intervention is key for any child’s development and we can’t thank the staff and charity members enough for all their on-going help and understanding throughout.

As a result of this, and as a thank you to the charity, we have attended various fundraising events and will continue to raise money for this well-deserved and dedicated charity. Furthermore, Duncan is now a trustee for the charity.

Thank you so much.

Duncan and Amy

The nursery and portage staff have become an extended family, providing encouragement during difficult times and teaching us to fight for what we believe in.


Elise’s Story

Elise was diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome at just 3 weeks. As time progressed, she was referred to a physiotherapist who suggested the Portage service based at High Flyers. This was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Read more

Being the parents of a child with a disability is very scary because normal does not apply, and the fear of the unknown can easily consume. In the beginning, although it was Elise who was having the sessions, as parents we were benefiting immensely. As she was having her sessions, she was learning and enjoying, and as parents we were learning that we were not the only people with a child with a disability. It’s a simple fact, however when you are in that dark place, it is easy to forget.

Elise was developing slowly at her own pace, and we were learning that that was okay. She loved the interaction with her Portage worker, as well as being invited to a monthly group session, which was a small but very good excuse to wear one of her pretty party dresses. She looked like a little doll, and ten years on, that comment was made when we bumped into the parents of a child who shared those days with us.

We then moved onto the Portage groups and Elise loved these sessions. They were a chance to mix with other kids all with disabilities but all just children, learning and playing happily in a lovely environment. As parents, it was an amazing experience to mix regularly with other parents, some of whom we are still in contact with today.

We had an amazing amount of practical support from the staff, even attending a conference on PWS as it is a less known-about condition. As anybody in this position will tell you, other parents are where the real golden information comes from – a lesson we were lucky to learn early thanks to the Portage service.

Elise then moved onto the nursery, where she was happy and contented, and we as parents were confident in letting her go knowing she was safe, happy, developing and being well looked after. The bus even picked her up and dropped her off at the end of the day – an amazing experience for such a little girl and a change for Mum and Dad. This was better than normal at a time when normal did not really apply.

When nursery was about to end, with support and help from the staff, Elise was given the chance to experience mainstream nursery with one-to-one support from the staff. With their help and knowledge, we were confident about our decision as to where Elise would start school.

One of our fondest memories is when we were on holiday and I got a call from a relative to say Elise was in the Gazette. I asked him to keep it for me and, on our return, we opened the paper to find a big picture of Elise holding her doll dressed in her Friends Of Early Support tee-shirt next to the headline: “And Dolly Came Too”. The picture had been taken at the annual sponsored event around Ropner Park.

We are still very proud to support this charity, even helping with the 7am walk around the park to ensure everything is clear and safe for the children. This charity works seamlessly with the group, providing much needed extras for the children, sometimes to the point that even the education department don’t realize who did these amazing things.

Elise will be starting Year Nine in September 2018, and even though mums always look back and wish they were still babies, every September I look back and say I wish she was back at The Early Support Nursery – those were the best days.

“Every September I look back and say I wish she was back at The Early Support Nursery – those were the best days.”

Elise's Mum

Emily’s Story

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work as a nursery nurse in the Early Support Nursery as part of their amazing team in 2012. I gained invaluable knowledge from a team of highly specialised and experienced staff, which I can now use myself in other settings thanks to experiences and knowledge shared.

Read more

In the two years I worked here, I met and worked with some amazing children and families who I learned so much from and shared some wonderful memories with. I witnessed all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes by Darren and the support group who are dedicated to finding ways to give the children the very best.

“I met and worked with some amazing children and families who I learned so much from and shared some wonderful memories with.”

Emily

Sarah’s Story

It would be hard to find such a well-qualified, hard-working and passionate group of professionals dedicated to providing an inclusive and supportive educational setting that benefits the whole family as well as the child.

Read more

They always go the extra mile and I’m proud of my long association with them, going back 25 years. Thank you for all that you do.

“It would be hard to find such a well-qualified, hard-working and passionate group of professionals.”

Sarah

Dorothy’s Story

I had the honour and absolute pleasure to work with this wonderful team and amazing nursery during my years as the Early Support Inclusion Coordinator for Stockton LA.

Read more

The services, support and expertise is exemplary, and the dedication of all the staff and families is extraordinary – it makes this nursery truly, truly special. Thank you for my time with you!

“The dedication of all the staff and families is extraordinary – it makes this nursery truly, truly special.”

Dorothy

Julia’s Story

In 2005, I was lucky enough to be offered the best job in the world (Portage Home Visitor). When I first became part of ‘The Early Support Team’ as it was then known, I was literally blown away by how utterly amazing the place was, and at how experienced, knowledgeable and completely dedicated the staff were. This was when my passion for working with these amazing kids started and I set out trying to learn as much as I could to be able to give the children a fantastic quality of life and the best possible opportunity to achieve their best.

Read more

I was keen to be part of ‘The Children’s Centre Support Group’, as it was then. I got my family involved and, alongside an amazing group of people, I wanted to make a difference. I have been involved in many events, including walks, summer fairs, Boxing Day dips etc. My kids have given up chocolate and even poo-picked at the farm to help raise money for this fab charity.

As the years have gone on, things have changed and there have been ups and downs, but the charity continues to deliver an outstanding service. Teams have been separated and the set-up is very different, but we all have the same passion and commitment to making the children’s lives enriched.

Darren Gunn is an amazing man who has worked hard for many years alongside his day job and supported us through all the good, and not so good, times. He is such a kind and generous man who truly cares. The work he does often goes unnoticed, but he does it for the children and not for credit.

The children and the families I have met over the years have been completely amazing and often inspiring. Lots have become involved in the support group, which is fab, and some have stayed with us even when their child has moved on.

Seeing the faces of the children yesterday at our exclusive ice skating reminds me of why we dedicate our time. This charity will always have a special place in my heart and I am proud to be a trustee. I hope more families are inspired about the work we do, and we would always welcome them to be part of our amazing charity. New fundraising and event ideas will always be welcome. I hope the website helps more people to see the fab work that we do.

“When I first became part of ‘The Early Support Team’ as it was then known, I was literally blown away by how utterly amazing the place was, and at how experienced, knowledgeable and completely dedicated the staff were.”

Julia

Darren and Jill’s Story

As a parent, all you want is for your children to be healthy and to be able to give them the best upbringing possible. When your child is born with a disability or an additional need, your life and the lives of all your family change forever. Bringing up a child with a disability or an additional need is very hard and puts strain on the whole family.

Read more

Christopher was born 12 weeks early and initially had problems associated with his early appearance – immature lungs and jaundice. At two weeks, that all changed.

Christopher was diagnosed with an infection called necrotising enterocolitis, which ripped through his little body faster than any other recorded case. Christopher was rushed by ambulance to the specialist surgical unit at the RVI hospital in Newcastle. Surgeons operated on him for over six hours and removed the large section of his bowel, which had died due to the infection.

During the operation, Christopher’s life hung in the balance and, on a couple of occasions, he passed away. The skill of the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the whole surgical team brought our little boy back to us against all the odds.

Christopher was extremely poorly, and we were advised to have him baptised that evening. Unfortunately, some time during the operation, Christopher suffered from significant brain damage which left him with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. This wasn’t the fault of any person or anything that was done incorrectly during the operation, but a consequence of the catastrophic insult to his little body.

When we finally got Christopher home, we were inundated with visits from professionals. Those professionals carried out physio, health checks, chair assessments and many other things. We had had six or eight months of uncertainty and a mass amount of hospital visits and were emotionally and physically drained.

Through our community nurse, we were invited to come along to a place that was ‘like a nursery’, but different. A place that would asses Christopher’s needs and put him on the correct path for his education. A place where all the professionals had open access to Christopher and were able to carry out their assessments in one place. This place was The Childrens Centre.

On our very first visit, we were met by the then Head Teacher, Liz, and within minutes we were at ease, surrounded by people who filled us with hope and confidence. We had never heard of this place, this place that was full of these wonderful people, this place that was a safe haven for Christopher and that would become our rock. The staff were caring and professional and Christopher very quickly settled in, starting in a parent-and-child group and then going on to nursery.

Christopher loved his time at the nursery and could often be seen asleep in the corner of the light room, usually snuggled into a member of staff. The support that we received from everyone at the nursery was absolutely invaluable and the people we met – staff, professionals and other parents – were our rock.

We threw ourselves into helping out when we could and became members of the parent-led charity, The Children’s Centre Support Group, that had been started to raise funds for the nursery. In 1999, I became chairman of the charity and have been since then.
Sadly, Christopher’s health deteriorated and after a long, hard fight, he passed away aged six. We will never forget the support that the nursery gave us and the resources we had access to, resources that were funded by the charity.

We will never be able to pay back the debt we owe to the staff. The support they have given our family. The shoulder they gave us to cry on when needed. The care and love they gave to Christopher. But we know that every child who attends the nursery is given the best possible start to life by the caring professionals that make the nursery what it is. Along with the best equipment and resources we can offer through the charity, we are confident there is no better place.

“We know that every child who attends the nursery is given the best possible start to life by the caring professionals that make the nursery what it is.”

Darren

The Curry Family’s Story

When our son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it was quite difficult finding the right support for him and our family. Where do we start? Who could help us?

It was when he started in Early Support that we started to feel that we could fit in. Not only were the Portage sessions with great sensory toys/switches invaluable to our son’s development, but we were finally introduced to families in similar situations who could offer us support and suggestions.

Read more

As a family, the Friends of Early Support was a place of comfort and reassurance for us all. We immensely enjoyed family fun days, Christmas parties, being involved in the annual sponsored event at Ropner Park and quiz nights which were all planned to help raise much needed funds for the charity.

Our son benefitted from those extra sensory toys the Portage workers were able to purchase from fundraising events, and we got great ideas of how to develop his play.

As a family, we got advice about the wide range of sensory equipment that was available from the very knowledgeable, approachable and friendly Darren Gunn. He made himself available to bounce ideas around sensory play and a whole range of issues which could quite possibly be too long to list.

Darren is a genuine person who is happy to share his knowledge to help other families. Darren, Jill and all of the committee members I have met are passionate about the charity and driven to help support as many children and families as they possibly can.
From a family who has used this service in the past, we would like to thank the Friends of Early Support for assisting us positively in our journey of complex and special needs.

It’s great to see the charity grow and develop, and finally give themselves a ‘pat on the back’ for all the hard work, past, present and future, that they have undertaken in supporting children and their families.

“As a family, the Friends of Early Support was a place of comfort and reassurance for us all. “

The Curry Family

Elisha’s Story

Well, it’s Elisha’s last day at nursery today and we are an emotional wreck! There are no words to describe how thankful we are to each and every one of you at the Early Support Nursery. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for you.

Read more

Elisha has come on leaps and bounds since starting here. She’s like a completely different person and it’s all down to your hard work and support. We can’t thank you enough for what you have done, not only for Elisha, but for us as a family.

We can’t believe it’s all over! We’ve met some absolutely wonderful people – the staff and all the other families. We will cherish all the memories and you’ll always be in our hearts. Thank you all so much.

“There are no words to describe how thankful we are to each and every one of you at the Early Support Nursery. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for you.”

Elisha's Mum

Have you got a story? Share it with us!
friendsofearlysupport@ntlworld.com
Friends Of Early Support

Hear from our fantastic supporters

Rotary

Every rotary club around the world is committed to supporting local and national charities and we have been honoured to have been chosen for their support on many occasions.

Go to website

Teesside Golf Club

The club has a long history of supporting local charities and we are honoured to have been the captains chosen charity on three separate occasions. From time to time we hold our functions at the club and benefit from their fantastic function room and amenities.

Go to website

Total Control & Distributions

Total Control & Distribution Ltd are delighted to offer our support to The Children’s Centre. The Centre is a fantastic facility which is a credit to the professional and positive approach of the staff and all who are involved.The Centre offers a much needed caring and supportive environment for both the children and their families.

Go to website

Navigator Terminals

Navigator terminals Teesside have been a supporter of our charity for the past 5 years. They have funded our Childrens class Christmas parties and presents and have given their time and financial assistance. As a national company with a base in Teesside they have committed themselves to our charity and more so our children.

Go to website
Translate »