When Sam was 2yrs old I went part-time at work and it was fab wink I loved having more time with Sam but what wasn’t so great was the massive financial strain it placed on us. It was during this time that I started to really look into what financial support was available for families like ours and was shocked at how little help we were eligible for.

The financial pressure on charities means that most are now means test, and will only be able to help if you earn below a certain threshold. However there is help available if you know where to look for it.

1. Know your tax credits – Even if the answer is no, it pays to find out… we didn’t think we were eligible but we are, for child tax credit due to the severe disability element. So, apply.

2. Don’t be too proud or ashamed to ask for help – charities are there to support families like ours, if your child needs something and you can’t get funding anywhere else, find a charity who can help.

3. Apply for DLA, and don’t be afraid to appeal a decision if you disagree with it – the DLA form is, I grant you, hideous. Even the helpline staff agree that its hideous! And its tough as Hell having to write it all out in black and white but it really does take a strain off you financially.

For years, we assumed we couldn’t apply to charities like Family Fund because we weren’t getting child tax credits. It was only after a chance comment by another SN mum and friend that made me look again at the awards letter; we’re paying off an over payment made in error y’see, so don’t get a penny in tax credits… but there it is, in big letters on the front page – we ARE eligible, it’s just that the money goes to pay off the over payment. But after double checking with FF we are indeed eligible.

Don’t fall victim to assuming that you can’t get any help or support because you earn a set amount or because (like us) you don’t think you’re eligible – one thing I’ve learnt from having Sam is that there is a phenomenal amount of good in this world, and the number of people who want to help are far greater than you could have imagined.

Don’t struggle on in silence – if the OT or PT says your child would benefit from x, y, z piece of equipment but the local authority etc can’t fund it, don’t assume that its hopeless and you’re child will suffer because they don’t have to smile

The help is out there, we just need to ask x

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