Hi all, I’m Vicky, married to Keith, and for us family life is pretty crazy. We have five children, Rosie aged 17, Katie aged 16, Ailsa aged 15, James aged 7 (who is a SWAN) and Isaac aged 5.
We have been members of SWAN UK for a few years now after being signposted to the group by a friend. Initially when I joined the SWAN UK Facebook groups I was very much a lurker. I found reading other people’s posts interesting and informative, but I would never reply as I was nervous about other people’s reactions.
As time went by though, I began to realise that SWAN UK is home to all sorts of families covering a broad spectrum of conditions and illnesses, and within all this there is an overwhelming feeling of support, friendship and understanding. As I started to get more involved, I started to realise that we had found a place where we fit in.
On Saturday 7 December, we were lucky enough to be able to attend the SWAN UK Christmas visit to Sundown Adventure Land. The children were excited to be able to see Santa in his Christmas House, but for us, the day was an opportunity to meet new people, put faces to names, and spend time with old friends. James was able to enjoy the day without feeling self-conscious, and spend time with people that are accepting and non-judgemental.
James struggles with days out usually – he doesn’t like noise, or people or smells. He gets frustrated when he can’t keep up, and often withdraws, refusing to speak or join in. When we attend an event with SWAN UK, it is easier somehow. James doesn’t feel so different, there are other children in wheelchairs, or wearing ear defenders, and he doesn’t feel like he stands out.
Meeting other SWAN UK families is really important to us. It gives us the opportunity to talk to each other, support each other, laugh, cry and moan, within the
safety of the SWAN UK community. I came away from the event feeling happier. It’s really valuable to be able to speak to people that understand. Our issues may be different, but there is an overwhelming sense of caring and community. It is great to feel part of something, as often we are made to feel different.
This is the fourth SWAN UK event we have attended and it is lovely to see the children growing in confidence, forming friendships, and the parents and carers sharing experiences and support.
I feel these events are really important in helping our children realise that they are not alone, and that there are many others that experience daily challenges just like them.
SWAN UK has helped us find our people. Thank you.