Our mission is to make families with disabled children feel valued and experience the best quality of life possible
  • Friends and Families of Special Children - Mobile Slide One

    Friendly Freddie meets our competition winners Contact Us

  • Friends and Families of Special Children - Mobile Slide Two

    "Fantastic Charity, they offer lots of services and support" - March 2019 Activities

  • Friends and Families of Special Children - Mobile Slide Three

    Proud to support Harry from The Children In Need Rickshaw Challenge #HAPPYASHARRY Contact Us

  • Friends and Families of Special Children - Mobile Slide Four

    In 2018 we supported 252 children. To register with us click on the link Register

Meet the Team

Friends and Families employ 8 members of permanent staff who between them have a wealth of experience and knowledge of Disability and the carer service.

Gill Parker

Office Manager

I was born and brought up in Plymouth and am married with 3 children, the eldest of which has Cerebral Palsy. I have been involved with a number of disability groups on a volunteer basis and was an active member of Friends and Families prior to becoming an employee in 2011. I am passionate about enriching the lives of families with disabled children.

Jess Butland

Making Sense Project Coordinator

I was brought up in Wembury near Plymouth and have recently moved back there with my partner Sean, daughter Grace and lurcher Talen. My daughter Grace has Polymicrogyria, a brain malformation resulting in Cerebral Palsy, developmental delay and Epilepsy. We have been users of the services Friends and Families provide for many years.

I have worked in the Civil Service for the past 12 years and am now very much looking forward to a new challenge working for Friends and Families of Special Children.

Hannah Whiting

Lead Fundraiser

I have lived locally to Plymouth since 2006, currently with my partner, Julia and our cat, Dizzy. I have a degree in Human Geography from the University of Plymouth, and my dissertation focused on local community. I have a background in retail, co-ordinating community engagement and fundraising. I joined Friends and Families in May 2017, and I am really enjoying fundraising for such a great cause and promoting the fantastic work the charity does for local people.

Suzy Goode

Administrator

I grew up in Cornwall and have lived in Plymouth for many years with my husband and two boys.  I originally worked as a Legal Executive specialising in family law, and have worked as a Teaching Assistant in a British School in Italy, where our family lived for 2 years.  I have also worked as Clerk to the Trustees and Company Secretary to a Plymouth Multi Academy Trust.

I work in the office supporting the Team in their great work.

Nicky Harris

Information and Advice Development Worker

I was born and have lived in Plymouth all my life.  I live with my partner Rob and our 2 dogs Hattie and Enzo.  I have a grown-up Son and a Daughter.

I have worked in various family support roles and through fostering have cared for children of all ages with varying additional needs.

I joined Friends and Families in December 2017 and during this time have established and developed the Parent Support Service which includes starting a Parent Drop InSupport Group.  I have supported and empowered parents to feel confident to complete DLA/PIP forms and grant applications.

In my new role as a Family Advice and Development Worker I am looking forward to continuing to develop and evolve the Family Disability Information and Advice Service and working together with parents/carers to offer meaningful, targeted training opportunities.

Joanne Hocking

Family Support Worker

I was born and grew up in Plymouth. I have also lived in Salisbury and Germany due to Military commitments. I have a daughter who is at University and a Jack Russell called Scrumpy.

I have worked in a Family Support role for the last ten years, working closely with Families and Children with SEND within a Primary School setting.

I am passionate the vision for all children and young people is to achieve well in their early years, at school, college and at home and lead happy and fulfilled lives.

Marc Leighton

Youth Adventures Co-ordinator

I was born and still live in Plymouth with my wife Ella and son Marley who we adopted when he was 7. I am currently doing a degree in Psychology through the Open University specializing in cognitive development.  I have worked within a SEN school for 5 years providing Theraplay to young people with ASD and sensory processing difficulties to help develop secure attachments.

I have a passion for helping young people know that anything is achievable.

What our friends and families say...

“Thank you, yet again, to Friends & Families of Special Children for providing opportunities for my son that I never thought he would be able to do.  During the summer he was able to have surfing lessons and enjoy other water sport activities organised by the charity.   When we arrive at the sessions they are always very well planned and as parents we have no explaining to do and even better no apologising for our child’s behaviour!  The staff have an amazing understanding and empathy on the needs of various disabilities of the children and this helps to keep everyone relaxed and happy including the parents/carers!”

October 2015

“It was the best day ever being able to go swimming as a family with her little sister who can only use a hydrotherapy pool. We’re so grateful we can have unforgettable days out thanks to the events you put on. We can thank you enough.”

May 2016

“Not only does the charity provide exciting experiences for the children but can also help with much needed support for the parents.  Being a parent of a disabled child can at times be very lonely and isolating.  To meet with other parents on these activity days is a breath of fresh air and helps you to realise that there are many other people like you facing the similar day to day challenges of having a disabled child.  From our personal experiences we can share stories, offer help and advice and even make new friends.”

January 2018

“The emotional support I received from my befriender was fantastic and the opportunity to off load and reveal my concerns and fears was like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”

Gareth Allen (parent)

“What a fantastic friendly welcoming place. We visited for the first time this morning for help to fill in a DLA form for our eldest daughter. We were given great help and advice with something we found very overwhelming and difficult.”

February 2017

“Thank you to all staff for looking after our kids at Magdalen Farm. Oliver has really enjoyed himself and can’t wait till the next time.”

August 2017

Activity Calendar

Please note our activities can be browsed by date using the interactive calendar below. A light green square indicates there are events scheduled on that day. Simply hover over the square and the number of events on that day will appear. Click on view events and a list of the events will be shown above. You can then click-through to go to the specific event page for more details and to book.

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