Include Me 2: Barnardo’s Lancashire helping kids with special educational needs love learning

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Supporting those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is vital, with experts at Senploy explaining that the problems that such children and young people face can directly affect their ability to learn from their peers and the academic curriculum.

But, with the right support, such students can thrive. Aiming to ensure everyone has the chance to excel in Lancashire is Include Me 2 run by children’s charity Barnardo’s, which provides leisure activities for children and young people with SEND.

Running activities including arts and crafts, sensory play, cooking and baking, and visits to the park, the invaluable service runs weekend, after-school, and school holiday groups and is open to any child or young person with SEND aged between four and 18.

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It also offers individual care packages from their base in Lostock Hall, enabling participants to access a range of activities and develop skills including social communication and understanding.

Include Me 2 participants during a cinema tripInclude Me 2 participants during a cinema trip
Include Me 2 participants during a cinema trip

And, with Barnardo’s having supported more than 382,000 children, young people, parents, and carers through 791 services and partnerships across the UK in the last 12 months alone, Include Me 2 is currently on the hunt for new potential volunteers.

“We’d be delighted to welcome some new volunteers to our fantastic family,” says Cindy Ribchester, Barnardo’s Volunteer Coordinator. “Not only do the children and young people love having them around but the volunteers themselves get so much from doing it.

“Volunteering provides an opportunity to learn and have new experiences and you also meet new friends and have fun along the way,” she adds. “We provide comprehensive training and out of pocket expenses and volunteering can be a good stepping-stone into employment.

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“A number of our volunteers have gone on to become paid members of staff which is testament to how much they enjoy the role and working with our young people.”

Include Me 2 at UCLanInclude Me 2 at UCLan
Include Me 2 at UCLan

Those keen to make a real positive difference to local families by volunteering would be supporting participants in Include Me 2 initiatives during term time at the after-school club, at weekends, and during the school holidays. Two people already reaping the rewards from volunteering are Lauren Eckersley and Sarah Spurr.

“The staff at Barnardo’s are very supportive and the individuals that you help support are fantastic,” says Lauren. “The world is their oyster and it’s great to be part of such a caring group that encourages everyone to be their best self.”

Sarah agrees, adding: “I enjoy building a bond and relationship with the children, finding out what they enjoy doing and joining in. Everyone at Barnardo’s is supportive and caring, and the flexibility of volunteering around my studying is a plus for me.”

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Committed to helping participants build confidence and independence through inclusive play, Include Me 2 also offers help with short breaks for disabled children including overnight care for children in approved carers’ homes, holiday leisure and activity programmes, and after-school and Saturday clubs.

Include Me 2 is run by Barnardo'sInclude Me 2 is run by Barnardo's
Include Me 2 is run by Barnardo's

Giving children and young people the chance to enjoy fun and social experiences outside their home life whilst offering parents and carers the opportunity to recharge their batteries, such experiences are potentially life-changing.

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