A local charity offering vital help and support to families that have a child with a disability has won an award.
PESTS (Parents of Ealing Self-Help Training Scheme) has been working in the borough for 37 years. It has provided a place where parents and carers of children with a disability, complex or additional need (from birth to five years old) can come together at a critical time when worries and concerns about their child’s developmental needs are emerging.
The charity won in the Outstanding Service to the Community category of the 2019 Atul Pathak Community Awards, which highlights and celebrates community groups and the work they do. PESTS also received a cheque for £2,000, which was presented at the same time as the award at the Houses of Parliament last week (19 June).
PESTS runs structured, weekly children’s play sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays, funded by Ealing Council. It also offers targeted advice and information, acting as a support group for those families. Guest speakers and visitors provide expert and professional advice; training workshops are offered; and the charity also has an out-of-hours support phone line. Regular family fun days are organised, too, as well as parent carer evenings; and PESTS also works closely with the council’s Early Start Ealing team, led by health visitors.
Joy Barton, PESTS project manager, said: “The award was very welcome and such nice recognition of the wonderful work our charity is continually doing.
“We are providing a much-needed support service to some of the most vulnerable people in the community who come to us feeling lost, yet find an atmosphere of understanding, warmth and acceptance – knowing that no one is going to judge them. One of PESTS’ objectives is to enable parents to support themselves, via formal training and informal social opportunities.
“We have long thought that PESTS is a jewel in Ealing’s crown, and it is so gratifying to be publicly praised in this way.”
‘Many families didn’t know where to turn’
“PESTS supports many parents who have just become concerned about their child’s development or been given a diagnosis and started the lengthy process of assessments,” explained Joy.
“Some parents may encounter difficulties accessing services because of the complexity and needs of their child or because they have more than one child with a disability. Behavioural difficulties and developmental delay sometimes prevent them attending other mainstream playgroups or places are limited.
“Reaching these families now when they need us is paramount to their well-being. Over the years, many families have said they were struggling and didn’t know where to turn before they came to PESTS. We know that Ealing Council sees us as a valuable resource, reaching out to families in need, which is why it continues to fund us.
“Families feel less isolated when they have contact with others in similar situations and somewhere to turn for advice and information.”
Want to go to PESTS?
There is a play session every Tuesday and Friday in school term time between 10.30am-12.15pm, at Windmill Children’s Centre, Windmill Lane, in Greenford.
Door-to-door transport can be provided across the borough, helping people to get to the play sessions.
Many families are told about PESTS by specialist health visitors; but parents and carers can refer themselves so, if you are interested in going to the play sessions, fun days or parent evenings, call 020 8571 9954.
For more information, visit the PESTS website.