We were introduced to the Centre about 18 months ago when our youngest child, who is now almost 3 years old, was having developmental difficulties. Our son Timmy has an undiagnosed condition that has resulted in overall developmental delay of approximately 1 year. Timmy has improved dramatically since he began attending the Centre, including his physical, speech and social skills. We are sure that he would not have improved so much if it had not been for the help and support of all the staff at the Centre. The Centre also provides support for the rest of the family. I have lost count of the number of times we have spoken to the Family Services Manager for support and advice. She has always been there for us to talk to when we had no one else to turn to.
Over the last 3 years, The Opportunity Centre has provided my family with invaluable support. They are even there in the school holidays with Playscheme activities giving us a well needed rest from our son Daniel, who has Downs Syndrome. The Centre first contacted me when he was just 6 weeks old and invited me to join their groups. Since then Daniel has gone through massive changes with the help of Portage, Conductive Education which really helped him to walk, and speech therapy. I know that if I hadn't had so much support, we would have struggled over the last 3 years. Also, I know Daniel wouldn't be the bright, confident, happy boy he is today.
My son has Cerebral Palsy, and the help and support I have received from The Family Services Manager over the past 4 years has been immeasurable. She has involved my son in The Rainbow Group at the Centre where he received Conductive Education. This has greatly increased my son's confidence and balance and helped him to walk and talk. He also attends the Playscheme run at the Centre, where he is able to interact with children of all abilities.
My first contact with the Centre was with the Family Services Manager in October 2005 when she came to visit Eliza and me at our home. This was fantastic as my daughter needs constant care and even leaving the house can be a battle that most days I just can't face. I instantly warmed to the Family Services Manager's kind and friendly manner, and truly welcomed her invitation to visit the Opportunity Centre. Unfortunately I have found living in the Forest with such an ill child very isolating, and until this point I felt extremely lonely and sometimes depressed worrying about my daughters future. Eliza and I attend the Centre every Thursday, when Eliza goes to the Sunbeams Playgroup, which she enjoys very much. The group is vital to Eliza's socialisation and development. It is essential that I limit Eliza's contact with other children to avoid illness whenever possible due to the fact she needs cardiac surgery around every three months at the moment, and if she catches a cold this could delay surgery. While Eliza is at Sunbeams I attend the parent support group, this group has become invaluable to me also. I have two hours to myself, safe in the knowledge that Eliza is well cared for and I can relax and chat to other parents that are going through a similar experience to me. I look forward to this every week as due to Eliza's illness I can't leave her with anyone else because she needs round the clock care. I hope you can imagine how the Centre has become a lifeline to me; I don't know what I would do without it!