The story of Butterflies

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'A child is like a butterfly in the wind.

Some can fly higher than others, but each one flies the best it can.

Each one is different

Each one is special

Each one is beautiful.'

The idea for Butterflies clubs came about in October 2017 whilst Jen and her family were on a drive to Newcastle, they were discussing the difficulty of finding suitable clubs for children with disabilities and the challenges clubs face when attempting to cater for the needs of children with disabilities. Upon returning from the family trip Jen put an advert on a facebook page for babysitting for children with disabilities and we were inundated with enquiries and she knew something must be done to help these families.

The facebook page was set up and Jen sought feedback from families on what is needed and the barriers families face with their children, the main thing that came back time and time again was the support required to assist their children to form and maintain friendships and individual barriers that varied from child to child.

In January 2018 Jen was contacted by Essex short breaks service and action for children to discuss the need and how to move forward. Jen's initial idea was a weekly club in Basildon, the feedback and area requiring the services was a lot vaster than ever imagined.

By March 2018 Butterflies had 90 families registered interested in accessing the clubs and from March to May the funding from Action for children helped Butterflies to launch a pilot scheme in Basildon, Chelmsford, Colchester and Harlow. Every town and every child was completely different and the personalisation of the clubs really came an important part of what we do. The pilot schemes were a great success, the feedback received was very positive and the suggestion put forward on almost every form was 'more sessions please'.

We ran another pilot scheme July-September, this time focussing more on trips and small friendship groups and we found this much more beneficial to the children and much more flexible in the personalisation. Again the feedback was very positive and during this pilot scheme we received the news we had been awarded annual funding to run the existing clubs for a year!

Upon launching the existing clubs to run more regularly we were again snowed under with requests from families wanting to access the clubs and alternative funding was sought to make this happen. So writtle was added to our list of clubs and an additional group in Colchester was added in an attempt to begin to reach the families on the waiting list in the area. We are still seeking funding to reach out to other families waiting for clubs.

Butterflies has been built on the feedback from families on what is needed for their children and the feedback of the children on what they want from their club. The expertise and knowledge of staff is used to break down the barriers to make Butterflies accessible and personalised to its members.

In September 2019 we launched our Personalised Activity packages as this enabled us to adapt our services offered to each child as an individual based upon what their families would like them to achieve from attending the clubs.