Thursday, 29 May 2008

Lorayne Farrington, the Team Leader of our Early Years Support Team and Krystyna Cyrowski-Johnson, the Portage Co-ordinator sent me this wonderful story...

"Chris, I thought you might like to read this wonderful e-mail from Sara, a parent, who has recently received Portage home visits, training and family support from the EY support team. The most fantastic thing is that Sara is now so empowered that she is going on to support other parents and to work with us to further develop our Portage family support groups. A " hot cup of coffee", is something we usually take for granted everyday, unless you drink tea! So when you next have your preferred drink, I hope you will remember these words. Sara,has kindly given her permission ,so enjoy !Regards Lorayne and Krystyna"

"Good afternoon, Thank you for making myself and Ben so welcome at the group this morning and for enabling me to have "a hot cup of coffee".I want to start off by covering a few of the things we have already discussed previously but as you know I don't tend to gush with emotions so here is chapter and verse as I really feel it. From the first time you came to our home and met with us to explain the various different portage services which were available in Leeds I was aware of a warmth which was extended to us and welcomed us on an open and unquestioning basis. You made me realise that there was something and someone who actually cared that my little bundle of "joy" was given an equal chance to access the early support services that you could recommend. The first morning I walked into the group I was absolutely terrified. Terrified of not being accepted, liked, welcomed, wanted or even that my child was such hard word we wouldn't be encouraged to stay. How wrong I was. From the moment I bravely stepped inside I was met by warm smiling faces, genuinely interested people who wanted to talk to me and my little bundle of joy, that is Ben and it seemed they were bending over backwards to help get Ben settled and I even got to drink a HOT cup of coffee for the first time in 13 months. Nobody can imagine just important the group was to me on a weekly basis and for a mum on the very edge of complete exhaustion you and your colleagues kept me going and steered me away from a complete breakdown. To have a friendly listening ear who never questions or dictates but listens and advises where appropriate is the best tonic any parent on the edge could have. Over the course of my attending the group I built several good working relationships and also made friends with other parents who I now consider to be amongs my best friends and many are within my inner circle of trust. I was delighted to be allocated my Home Visitor and by then was feeling quite optimistic that maybe, just maybe it was possible for me with a lot of help to actually get Ben doing some small steps towards making progress in his development.
We had a weekly visit which was just the right amount I felt to give me time to learn this small step. I would enjoy the time I spent with Ben doing his weekly target because it was a quality moment that had a positive outcome everytime even in a very negative week we still could achieve a small success together. Over the course of home visits I grew increasingly confident and felt that I could actually start to learn more about Portage and was very pleased when Ann Appleyard informed me I was accepted onto the training course in the new year. The realisation sank in on the first day of the course that I was so out of my depth within the first hour, yet you encouraged me to stick with it and over the next two days I started to really believe you. I was secretly hoping that i would be good enough to complete the course just for personal satisfaction but now I was even hoping this could be the start of better things to come. I got a certificate, with my name on, to prove I did it and that is where it all changed. I seemed to be able to apply Portage to everything I did, and IT WORKED!!!!! Since completeing the course I have been using the principal of portage in almost every situation I can think of. I have made more progress with Ben in the last two months than I did in the six months previous to the course because now I can apply it to every task and not just one thing a week. The service you offer to families is above excellent at all times, the support and training given is beyond anyones expectations and the quality of staff that are in your team are quite simply the best. I wish I could meet everyone who is thinking of working with the portage service and tell them how brilliant it is and how much they will get from it as a whole family and not just the child. I just wanted to say a big thank you for everything you have done past, present and future. If I can ever be of any assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me. Regards Sara Smithson."

There are so many amazingly talented, passionate, committed and hard working colleagues working for Education Leeds. Working, as with Lorayne and Krystyna, with some of our most precious and special children and their parents and carers who face enormous challenges 24 hours a day every day. It is simply wonderful to have someone like Sara as a passionate advocate for the work these brilliant colleagues do and the enormous difference they are making here in Leeds.

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