I started SENsational Families to meet other families going through the journey of having a child with additional needs. My eldest son showed signs of some difficulties from toddler days and I struggled to find the help and support we needed.
I was a Paediatric Nurse and Health Visitor yet found the process a battle and decided I wanted to support others in the same position. I gave up my nursing career soon after my son was diagnosed with Autism and an Anxiety Disorder and became a Parent Support Adviser in local schools.
My passion for learning about additional needs and disabilities has led me to becoming manager of SENsational Families. I am proud to be part of a proactive and dedicated charity and I am fully committed to supporting and empowering the families we work with.
Emma - Family Support Adviser (FSA)
Hi I’m Emma and I am so proud and privileged to be part of SENsational Families in my role as a Family Support Adviser (FSA).
I started my journey 25 years ago when my children were little as a respite carer for children’s services, moving on to become an NVQ assessor in childcare followed by a Young Persons Advise with Connexions, which then lead to my role as a youth worker.
In 2012 I began my career as a Parent Support Adviser with a Norfolk Charity working with families who faced all kinds of challenges within their lives.
It soon became apparent in my role the daily struggle faced by SEND families when trying to get what their children needed and deserved , the emotional and physical stress faced by families on a daily basis and the impact of this not being recognised or acknowledged . I have since strived to become someone who will listen, source information, advice and guide. Attend appointments and if needed become the families voice when no one else will listen. I have been lucky enough on my journey to work with wonderful families and meet and work with someone who is as equally passionate about their role, Nicki, the founder of Sensational Families.
Working alongside, supporting and empowering families to be able to navigate their way through immensely difficult life journeys has become a truly rewarding career and becoming part of a charity that is proactive and dedicated to the families it serves is the icing on the cake.
Jonny - Family Support Adviser (FSA)
Hi my name is Jonny, I am very excited about my new role working with SENsational Families as a part time Family Support Advisor.
I thought it would be helpful to tell you briefly how both my personal and professional life have helped to prepare me to be part of the team delivering the essential work of the SENsational Families. Professionally I have held roles in education, health and social care. In education I have worked in SEMH roles as a school counsellor and I have trained to be an educational psychologist. However, I withdrew before qualifying as I felt the role was not enabling me to support children and families and instead I had the realisation that the role was about meeting objectives for local authorities and schools. Not what I was looking for.
I moved into understanding children and family difficulties in a trauma informed way and qualified as a trauma informed and mental health in schools practitioner. In health I enjoyed being part of the team writing the CAMHS local transformation plan and while in Children’s Services as part of the Early Help family practitioner team I enjoyed working with the police, youth offending teams and other partner agencies.
At home we live a colourful, creative and adventurous life fuelled by neuro-diverse thinking. As part of the SENsational Families I feel now I have finally found myself a role within a team where my everyday work is simply doing what I love. Supporting and empowering children and families. Whatever it takes.
Jacqui - Charity Administrator
I joined this amazing group of people in early 2019. I have worked in administration for most of my career and love to co-ordinate and manage projects. I handle the behind the scenes activity working closely with Nicki, Andrea and Emma as well as the Board of Trustees.
I really love working for such a good and much needed cause. It’s also given me so much more awareness and understanding of additional needs and disabilities.
I’m Kim, I am from the south Norfolk area.
I have four girls the oldest three all have different additional needs.
I discovered SENsational families on Facebook a few years ago, and the support has been amazing.
This made me feel like I should give something back and I offered to become a Volunteer Ambassador.
I am very excited about this opportunity to support this amazing charity and the families.
I have a lot of knowledge and understanding in SEND, which enables me to provide guidance and support to other people.
I have a son named Owen, who is handsome, awesome, creative, slightly mad, and also happens to be autistic. Since his diagnosis at aged 2, I have been on a seven-year journey, navigating the confusing, frustrating and lonely road to finding him help he needs. Joining SENsational families has been a real turning point for us and I am forever grateful for the help, support and advice I have received the wonderful parents, carers and advocates I have met through the group.
In addition to mothering my brilliant child, I am a degree student, wannabe scientist, and I have a diagnosis of combined ADHD, which I received as an adult in 2018. As a result of all these experiences, I am passionate about advocating for the rights of SEN families, improving access to services, promoting inclusion and telling everyone and anyone about the beautiful wide world of neurodiversity. It is my hope that I can help SENsational families advocate strongly on behalf of the amazing group of parents it supports and represents.
Hi, I'm Verity. I live in rural Norfolk with my son Oliver.
I found SENsational families on Facebook and although I was working at the time and wasn't able to come to the coffee mornings I found the support and advice there amazing!
Oliver is now 6, totally non verbal and has severe learning disabilities. We first noticed his challenges at a very young age. It's a very lonely experience when younger children start developing before your own. When Oliver started mainstream school his difficulties really started to show. This had a major impact on Oliver's behaviour, anxiety and our family really began to feel the strain.
We knew Oliver would need specialist schooling and had been preparing for it since he was 2, but as you may already know nothing is quite that simple and it's taken 2 years of fighting to get him a place at a special school. In the mean time Oliver has had a diagnosis of ASD.
I had to become an expert, not only an expert on my own child but of sen law, local authorities, form filling, tribunal, autism, disability benefits and where sells the best wine when it all gets too much. I had great teachers though in the amazing people at SENsational Families who gave me endless advice, support and a shoulder to cry on when it all got too much ( and it was too early in the day for wine!)
We are by no means at the end of our journey but as a family we have seen incredible things happen when we thought it never would. I began volunteering because I want to help other families who are just starting out to feel empowered, to fight for their child and to help them become experts too.
Lottie: Chair of Trustees
I came on board soon after Nicki founded SENsational Families. I too was looking for support and finding it impossible to get. I live in a very neurodiverse house, myself having ADHD, my eldest son has having ADHD, autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance and sensory issues, and attends a specialist school in Norwich. My youngest also has ADHD and is autistic. This certainly makes for interesting times!
It is a complete privilege to be the chair of such an amazing charity and to help ensure SENsational Families remains at the forefront of support and advocating for families in Norfolk.
Claire - Treasurer of the Trustee
My husband and I run a catering business, we live in North Walsham with many animals and our 2 children, who are both aspies, which is how I discovered SENsational Families.
The support and friendship I've received from the group has made the world of difference to my family and me. I'm proud to support the charity as it grows and try and help parents / carers navigate their way to find the help they and the children they care for need.
Caroline - Trustee (joint Secretary)
I am mum to Oscar and Isla. I knew nothing of the world of SEND until Isla was born with Down Syndrome. At that time this new place was pretty scary, filled with many medical appointments and uncertainty about the future.
Fast forward a few years and things are very different. We have a wonderful SEND family who we probably would have never met had it not been for our children and we are so grateful for that.
Before Isla was born I had worked for almost 20 years in supported housing and resettlement for young women and families. Now Isla is at school full time I am able to be more involved with SENsational Families, supporting families to receive the help that their children are entitled to and speaking to companies about making their venues and attractions as inclusive as possible, so that everyone, regardless of their disability or SEN can enjoy a day out.
Maxine - Trustee (joint Secretary)
My youngest son has Downs Syndrome and ADHD. I first came across SENsational Families when I was looking for information and support around some of the unexpected challenges and difficulties we suddenly found ourselves experiencing.
I found other parents facing similar frustrations and battles with ‘the system’ - fighting to access provision, searching for answers to questions - all with the simple aim of trying to get our children the help they need and deserve.
The knowledge and support I’ve received from SENsational Families’ members has been inspiring and empowering and I have been so lucky to make dear friendships along the way.
As the SENsational Families charity grows in exciting new ways, I’m looking forward to continuing to support its work and families in as many ways as possible, from the all important coffee-making and dishing out cake at Thursday group, to lobbying and campaigning for better provision and services for all of our young people.