Scope’s Face 2 Face service offers practical and emotional support to parents of disabled children, by matching them with a volunteer befriender, who has also experienced the joys and challenges of raising a disabled child.
Tracy, a Face 2 Face befriender in Wales, shares her experience and talks about why Face 2 Face is so important.
“I’m a full time mum to my son Coby, who’s five. He was diagnosed with autism when he was three. It changed our lives dramatically, all in the best possible way. Life is different but we’ve embraced it. We’re surrounded by other parents who have children with additional needs and it makes for a very happy life.
I saw Face 2 Face being advertised, looking for volunteers. I thought I’d been very lucky, I’d had good support and although it was still terrifying and upsetting at the time, we coped with it well as a family. So I wanted to offer guidance to someone who perhaps wasn’t as fortunate as us.”
My first time befriending
“At first I was conscious of saying the right things, but as soon as we met and starting talking it just worked. She was struggling but I was able to help straight away in that first session.
It was a good match because her son was autistic too so I was able to use quite a lot of my knowledge and experience. Everything that I’ve learnt since I had Coby came into practice, without a doubt. The way we live our life, all the experiences, people we know, places we go.
Everything she said I could relate to, and that was a massive thing for her. You could just see the relief within the first 15 or 20 minutes of our first session – just being able to open up and say how she felt to someone who was impartial and truly understood. I’d been through that myself, trying to explain and trying to get people understand and it’s wearing. So when you can talk to someone who understands it helps very much.”
The benefits of Face 2 Face
“Lives can be changed dramatically with the support that Face 2 Face offers. After a diagnosis, you walk out of the office and you think that all these people are going to come to you and all the support will be there. There is support but it doesn’t come to you – you have to find it. And the befriending does that. It fills the gap between walking out of that office feeling total and utter bewilderment, and feeling positive about your family’s future.
Being a befriender was very, very rewarding. I felt extremely gratified that, through my own experience, something good had come out of it. She went away a totally different person than she came in and the impact was far greater than I could ever have imagined. If they hadn’t had that support their lives would be carrying on in quite a desperate manner, in very lonely way. They’re going to be happier as a result of Face 2 Face.”
The National Lottery Community Fund’s People and Places Fund awarded Scope £190,812 to run a Face 2 Face Cymru Expansion project. This will build on the success of our recent Face 2 Face Cymru Development project, as a different way of running Face 2 Face. Three new services will be embedded within existing and established disability support organisations, with the hope of offering us better sustainability.