Category Archives: News

Keeping our young people safe and well

In response to the current COVID-19 situation in the UK, we would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some advice when attending SDSG activities.

You’ll all be aware of Coronavirus and the increasing concerns surrounding this and we understand that health worries are often heightened for those with a vulnerable person in their family. 

We recognise that there may be concerns from parents/carers about attending events and our regular activities.

  • We would ask that if you are unwell or have been unwell in recent days not to attend Group activities until you are completely recovered.
  • We actively encourage you to wash you hands with warm/hot water before you take part in any activities and suggest you do the same afterwards. 
  • We would also ask that you limit contact with others – this would include hugging and shaking hands. 

We want to make sure we can signpost you to up-to-date information and the latest advice – below is some key information.

Key sources of information and support: 

  • For accurate and up-to-date information, you can visit the Department of Health and Social Care website. This includes information on which groups should self-isolate (including on the basis of travel history from specific countries) and who to contact for advice. The guidance on this page is being updated on a daily basis. 
  • The NHS website has more information about how to reduce the possible spread of infection.
  • The DSA website has further information and resources designed to help people who have Down’s syndrome to understand cornonavirus and know what to look out for.

What you can do to help

There are precautions we can all take to limit the spread of infections and help to keep ourselves well. The advice is to:

  •  Cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you sneeze or cough.
  •  Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
  •  Wash hands with soap and warm/hot water often for at least 20 seconds – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available.
  •  Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  •  Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

We thank you for your understanding. 

SWINDON Down’s syndrome Group AGM 2020

Saturday 29 February 2020

From 11am – 2pm (AGM starts promptly at 12.15pm)

All are welcome to join us for our annual Open Day and Annual General Meeting. 

The Group will be showcasing all the activities and services we offer our members. From DSActive football to Speech & Language Therapy, youth club to Salamander, new parent support to school resource packs – it’s your opportunity to discover more! There will be free tea, coffee and cake available on the day too!

The AGM is the only formal part of the day. Please see the agenda. At our AGM, all Trustee positions become vacant and elections are held to fill them for the coming year. We welcome nominations for our Chairperson and subsequent nine Trustees. The closing date for applications is 31 January 2020. Complete a nomination form here.

We look forward to seeing you all there.

Join the Swindon Down’s syndrome Group board of trustees in 2020

Are you enthusiastic and passionate about supporting people with Down’s syndrome? 

We are inviting members who would like to be one of our charity trustees to submit an application. 

Being a trustee is about engaging with our members, attending monthly meetings, organising and supporting events as well as lots of other little tasks to do with the day-to-day running of the charity.

We are governed by a board which comprises up to 10 Trustees, including the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-Treasurer. 

If you’ve got specific skills or experience you can bring – perhaps you’re an excellent events organiser or fabulous fundraiser; you like to support new parents or raise awareness in the local community.

If this is you or you know someone who fits the bill and would make an outstanding trustee for the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group – applications close on 31 January 2020.

Next steps…

  1. Please read: ‘What’s required of a charity trustee, including your responsibilities to your charity’ 
  2. Complete the nomination form 
  3. Email it to secretary@swindondownsgroup.org.uk or post to: Secretary, Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group,
    34 Periwinkle Close, Swindon SN2 2QH

What happens next?

All nominations will be considered by our current Board of Trustees, who will recommend those candidates to be put forward to the membership for election at the AGM on 29 February. 

Download an application form

Download Word version

Download PDF version

 

Local student and printer team up to produce charity Christmas card

A final year degree student, studying graphic design at Swindon College has won the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group’s Christmas card design competition.

Anna Russell’s design was chosen as the winning entry by the charity trustee’s. The charity launched the competition back in June and specifically chose to work with Swindon College students.

Charity Trustee, Cailey Whitcher said “For us it’s so important to work with our local community and working with the students at Swindon College seemed like the perfect opportunity. We know there’s a lot of talented students on the course and we wanted to give the winner the opportunity to have their work showcased.

“Anna’s design really impressed us. She took some traditional themes and added her own artistic twist. She really listened to our brief and came up with something that we think everyone will want to buy.”

Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group have picked two of Anna’s designs, “In the Snow” and “Christmas Robin at Night” to use on their cards that are on sale now. The cards are £3.50 per pack and can be purchased from the group.

Proceeds from the sale of the cards will go towards the Group’s Speech and Language Therapy project. Cailey continued, “For all of us, being able to communicate is a fundamental part of our ability to be part of our communities, workplaces and families. Regular speech and language therapy gives our young people the opportunity to develop their speech and comprehension skills, enabling them to go on to achieve far more than might otherwise have been possible for them, and to become a much bigger part of our community.”

Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group Christmas Cards designed by Anna Russell

The cards have been printed by local printer CATs Solutions (Emagination Store), based in Rushy Platt who are supporting the charity’s Christmas campaign this year. Greg Smith, Managing Director said, “It was a pleasure to be able to support such a fantastic local charity who do such great work, we hope the cards help them raise lots of money”.

Christmas cards can be purchased by emailing secretary@swindondownsgroup.org.uk

Olly gives NEW health swap App the thumbs up

Over the summer DSActive launched the Health Swap for people with Down’s syndrome to use in an App on their phones and tablets to help them make good choices on their lifestyle.

Jo downloaded it onto her phone for Oliver to use. Here’s how he’s found using it. 

“We have had great fun adding his exercise each day and to gain points and badges. You can put in all about yourself as well and update this every time you use it to gain points.

The food section is great and I have tried a few of the recipes, but as yet Oliver is to be convinced. The great thing is that there is nothing negative on the food section, so if you do choose the takeaway option they just tell you to choose better next time.

The whole App is straightforward to use and there are lots of exercise options to use and the amount of time you exercise for is easy to use.

Oliver loves adding his smiley face each day, or whatever mood he is in. This will give you points as well.

Recently they have also launched the DSActive Health Swap App Group on Facebook. There are lots of blogs and advice and facts about nutrition. I can really recommend this App. It’s worth downloading and giving it a go. We love it.”

It’s september which means it’s back to school

While some of your little ones will be taking those very first steps off to school, some of you will be moving up to the next year group and others will be starting new schools and colleges.

We hope the first few weeks have gone as smoothly as possible and everyone has settled in nicely. You were kind enough to share some of your back to school photos with us. So here they are…

 And thank you to Zoe for sharing their ‘not back to school’ camping trip photos too!

We’ll be sharing them in the next issue of our magazine which is out next month so look out for them!

Salamander: finding the courage to do what you didn’t think you could before

Over the summer 16 young people from the Group took part in the Salamander Fire Course. They enjoyed five-days of fire-fighting skills, first aid, water rescue, abseiling and much more. For Belinda’s daughter Immy it was her second year on the course. Belinda shares how Immy found the course and overcame her fears.

 

I recently met an adult who had been on a Salamander Fire Course and he said it changed his life and he couldn’t believe what he’d found the courage to do. This is exactly the same course our amazing young people take part in, and I find this so inspiring. The young people rise to the challenge and impress me more than I can express and the team of fire fighters, police and volunteers who expect the best and gently encourage and persuade until each young person excels are really amazing.

 

Immy is very fearful of heights and although greatly looking forward to her second year of the course had started to grimly fixate on the training tower until it became an all consuming worry.  Amazingly she was encouraged to climb the tower and although not reaching the very top still abseiled down from the level below. Her absolute trust in everyone enabled her to have a go.

 

I could see the before and after photos during the day and it was clear to see the relief and joy after she’d completed it!

This is what the course is all about. The ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ approach which can only happen if you feel very safe and fully trust those around you and of course if those around you fully understand you and know what support you need.

Immy’s favourite part without a doubt was cutting up cars. She spectacularly enjoys cutting up cars infact! But she also found the courage to lead her crew through a smoke filled building, she confidently climbed gantries to put out fires and literally immersed herself in the water rescue. She has come home a more independent and confident young woman.

I might add that she is still wearing her salamander t-shirts at home!

Life is so much easier now Lily can communicate what she wants

Regular Speech and Language Therapy gives our young people the opportunity to develop their speech and comprehension skills, enabling them to go on to achieve far more than might otherwise have been possible for them, and to become much better integrated into the community.

Lily’s mum, Amanda, shares how speech and language therapy has helped her daughter.

Lily was a very smiley baby, enjoyed interacting with others and seemed very keen to communicate. However for a long time she was unable to speak.

During Lily’s sessions at Springboard Opportunity Group in Chippenham, and Portage, we were introduced to using Makaton. As a family, we all learned some Makaton signs and used them at home, alongside spoken words. Even Lily’s sisters Aislinn and Sophie (who was only 2 at the time!) joined in enthusiastically learning the signs and doing their best to encourage Lily to copy. Lily’s grandparents even learned to sign to her.

After persevering with this for some time, Lily slowly started using a couple of signs, waving ‘hello’ and signing ‘food.’ At Springboard she really enjoyed singing nursery rhymes and signing along with Makaton. We started to sing these songs to her at home. After a long time of doing this, she gradually started to copy some of the signs, singing the words. This really was a big breakthrough in her finding her voice – she still has a big love of singing!

Lily sees her NHS Speech and Language Therapist approximately once per term. She has been brilliant in helping Lily with swallowing problems and advising how to help Lily’s speech and language to develop. We were so grateful for the help Lily was receiving, but wished she could have more sessions, to help to bring her on as she was so behind with her speech.

We became involved with the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group when Lily was around two and a half. After we joined, we were told that the group provide regular speech therapy (SALT) free of charge. 

We were given a form to complete and promptly sent an appointment to see the Group’s therapist, Erica.

Lily really enjoys her sessions with Erica. She has given us so much useful advice on how we can help Lily to progress. Things that were easy to do, such as having Lily with me when I’m doing the housework, and describing what I’m doing to increase Lily’s vocabulary. Giving her choices such as ‘do you want the blue ball or the yellow ball?’,  and even helping her to start ‘reading’ by matching simple words to photos. 

Having the extra SALT sessions, which the NHS just can’t provide, with a Down’s Syndrome Specialist such as Erica, has made a huge difference to Lily’s progress.

Since Lily has been seeing Erica I have noticed huge improvements in Lily’s speech and understanding. Erica is so knowledgeable about Down’s syndrome and I feel very thankful to the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group that they provide this extra service. It has been invaluable to Lily’s development.

This improvement in Lily’s speech skills have had a huge effect on her life. Other children at nursery find it easier to understand her, so she is more able to play with them and form friendships. She used to get very frustrated because no one could understand what she was saying. Life is so much easier for her now she can communicate what she wants.

Lily is now three and a half and her speech is going from strength-to-strength. She is still delayed in her speech & language development, but continues to improve all the time. She can now speak in sentences, telling us what she wants for breakfast or which episode of Mr Tumble she wants to watch! One of the best moments recently was when I was putting her to bed, and she suddenly gave me a big hug said ‘love you Mummy.’

VOTE NOW TO BOOST THE SWINDON DOWN’S SYNDROME GROUPS CHANCE OF WINNING SHARE OF £1MILLION FUND

The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group is on the shortlist to win a share of Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures £1million pot supporting under-18s nationwide but first they need online votes to win. 

Persimmon Homes Wessex is backing Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group to be a prize winner at a gala dinner in October, where cash awards of £100,000, £50,000 or £20,000 will be made to those winning the most online votes. 

Kim West representing The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group said: “It is a huge achievement to have been selected as a regional finalist, but now we really need people to get behind us and get voting so that we are in the strongest possible position to earn one of the top three cash awards on the night. 

The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group is a parent-led volunteer group, run by 10 Trustees and we support around 100 families within the SN Postcode. If we were successful, the money will go towards our Speech and Language Therapy Project. 

For all of us, being able to communicate is a fundamental part of our ability to be part of our communities, workplaces and families. Regular Speech and Language Therapy gives our young people the opportunity to develop their speech and comprehension skills, enabling them to go on to achieve far more than might otherwise have been possible for the, and to become much better integrated into the community. 

We have seen the Speech and Language Therapy Service transforming the lives and prospects of our young people. We can only continue to provide this service if we are able to raise sufficient funds. We are therefore extremely grateful to Persimmon Homes to have been chosen as a regional finalist and if we were to win one of the top three prizes, it would secure this project for come considerable time”. 

Kim added: “Voting could not be simpler. Just visit to www.persimmonhomes.com/building-futures and select Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and vote for us we would really appreciate everyone’s support.” 

Building Futures is being delivered through the Persimmon Charitable Foundation, which last year donated £620,000 to support children’s sport. 

Through Building Futures, a total of 128 grants of £1,000 have been awarded to groups supporting sport, education & arts and health across Persimmon’s 31 regional businesses and its head office. 

Persimmon Homes is an official partner of Team GB and the Persimmon Charitable Foundation enlisted the help of medallists Kat Copeland and Callum Skinner to help determine the three regional finalists for each business division. 

One initiative from each category will go on to win £100,000 each through a national award scheme to be decided by a public vote. 

As well as the £100,000 first prize, there will be a £50,000 second prize and a £20,000 third prize in each sector, while a further 87 shortlisted projects will each receive £5,000. 

Online voting is now open and will close at midnight on September 27. 

To support the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group please visit: https://www.persimmonhomes.com/building-futures/finalists?categoryid=3#vote 

Recycle Your Ink Cartridges and Help Support Swindon Downs Syndrome Group

Did you know that you can help us raise funds simply by recycling your ink cartridges via our Recycle4Charity programme?

For each inkjet cartridge recycled via the programme we will receive a £1 donation, meaning you can help the environment whilst raising money for charity!

To start, all you need to do is go to the address shown below and sign up for your free account.

Register now at – http://www.recycle4charity.co.uk/Register/C2829