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New members needed to save ‘fantastic’ support group

An activity and support group for families with children with additional needs is facing an uncertain future, unless they can attract additional members to boost their dwindling numbers.

Run Ahead, a none-profit group meeting in Goole on a monthly basis, offer friendly help and support to any family with a child who has additional needs. Whether already ‘in the system’, or awaiting a diagnosis, you will find a warm welcome and a wealth of knowledge awaiting you. Making use of the fantastic ‘soft-play’ facilities at Goole’s Fun Run, the group meet on the third Tuesday of each month, 4-6.30pm.

It provides a perfect opportunity to meet other families in a similar situation, make new friends and have fun. Unfortunately, as they are self-funded, times are tough. As children grow up and families move on to the next stage of the support network, it is a struggle to get new members onboard. Parent Sharon Kitteridge now organises Run Ahead, and like many of the members has been attending the meetings regularly for years. Passionate about the group and keen to keep the support there, Sharon and the Run Ahead committee are concerned that unless new members come forward, the group may face closure.

Sharon told Our Goole: ‘Without funding it is difficult to raise awareness of this fantastic group, so more families can take advantage of the wonderful support it provides.’ Run Ahead was formed six years ago by Fun Run co-founder Elizabeth (Beth) Taylor, who became a joint trustee of the group; Rosie, a representative from FISH (Families Information Service Hub); together with a group of parents with children with additional needs. The idea was for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for these families, providing a venue, facilities, support, advice and even a ‘signpost’ type hub to direct families in the right direction for additional help, services and support.

Speaking about the advantages of Run Ahead, parent and committee member Michelle Parker said: ‘I have been coming to Run Ahead for four years with my daughter, after finding out about it through FISH. What we get out of this group is just invaluable. I really don’t know what I would have done without this place. One night a month we can come out, I know that if my daughter has a meltdown, no-one bats an eyelid. We’re accepted, there’s no judgement here and there is just so much help from the other parents. If we’re having a bad day, they understand. There is always someone who knows something, always someone who can help.’

The group last received official funding two years ago, and group numbers need to increase significantly to sustain the sessions. As organiser Sharon reiterated, ‘The need is most definitely there. The families are indeed there, it’s just a case of making them aware WE’RE here. Unfortunately, it really is a case of ‘use it, or lose it’

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