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WHISHes come true in a decade of dedication

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WHISH, a parent-led charity which works with families whose children have hidden impairments (HIs), is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend.

Whitby Leisure Centre will host the party on Sunday, from 2pm to 6pm, with swimming, a bouncy castle and sports.

WHISH in Whitby . Yvonne Harrison of the WHISH organisation .pic Richard Ponter 175076g

WHISH in Whitby . Yvonne Harrison of the WHISH organisation .pic Richard Ponter 175076g

Tuck into fish and chips at 4pm and a big WHISH cake will also mark the occasion.

Currently there are more than 45 different HIs in our membership, some you will have heard of, like Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourettes, Diabetes, Deafness and many others, including some very rare chromosome disorders.

We provide information, training, support and social groups for parents along with whole family activities and a range of sport, arts and social activities which are specifically for children.

We also have a sensory room and a wide range of sensory toys and equipment which parents can take out on loan.

How it all started – and where we are now

WHISH came about because of the lack of opportunities for HI families to relax and socialise, share experiences and problems without the fear of being judged or stigmatised for being different.

Started as a voluntary group in 2008 by a group of mums who wanted to support each other – some of those mums are still involved as our Trustees.

In 2013, after working from our homes, we started to do fundraising and got an office base at St Hilda’s Business Centre. We will be celebrating 10 years with an event at Whitby Leisure Centre on Sunday.

Parents are the key

Our trustees and committee have family members with HI and have close connections and relationships with members through shared situations and issues.

Parents trust and value the direct personal experience of other parents who really know what it is like to deal with a child with impairments and the effect it has on family life, in a way no professional ever really can.

“The WHISH effect” - what impact does it have?

We have examples of parents and children becoming fitter and healthier after taking up WHISH activities such as swimming, sports and riding, reducing their risk of obesity and illness.

We have direct evidence from parents that our stress management courses and hands-on parent group sessions have a direct benefit to parents who sleep better, and are more able to cope with the pressures and stresses in their lives.

Parents and children who have previously suffered from loneliness, been friendless and isolated in their homes, are now socialising with others and being part of their community.

Parents and young people who received help in the past are now volunteers and paying back by helping others.

Our base of volunteers is growing, and our stronger financial base has been confirmed with funding for another two years from the Brelms Trust and Children in Need.

Parents and wider family members have gained greater confidence through their involvement in WHISH and have gone on to become volunteers at activities, committee members and trustees for WHISH and also become more active within their community, volunteering in playgroups, schools and at the Children’s Centre for example.

Involvement in WHISH has enabled dozens of parents to have support, find their voice and give support to others.

What next for WHISH?

A major fundraising push in 2016 & 2017 enabled the development of a sensory room – which is open to everyone in the local community.

This year will see the further development of the facilities with an “active space” to complement the relaxation of the sensory room.

How you could help?

We always need more volunteers to help put on a tombola stand for an hour or two, take a donation box in their shop or pub, or offer a couple of hours a year to help at a childrens club or activity.