Photo showing me and my sister smiling

I come from a large family of 5 children, I’m the middle child (like to think that makes me the balanced one!). My eldest sister, Jemima, has profound and multiple learning disabilities. Family life was busy and we travelled every weekend to visit Jemima in her care home. Me and my siblings always strived to get a smile from Jemima through play acting and buffoonery. Being able to make Jemima laugh has always been one of the best things!

But our parents never expected us to take on the responsibility of Jemima. They were always anxious that we would feel responsible for looking after Jemima as they aged. So they joined support groups such as Kith & Kids, which was one way of sharing their lives and problems with a supportive group, and with the development of 2:1 a lot of fun was had by all!

Then my parents joined KLASP: the Kith & Kids Lifetime Advocacy and Support Project. Klasp provides advocates who can continue to monitor and support the wellbeing of its disabled members, regardless of whether they have any family left or whether surviving family are far away. They may be the only people doing this or they may liaise with surviving family members (wherever we are) because every family is different. This meant that Jemima would have an advocate who knows her and our family. I’m sure like many other Klasp parents having this support in place has given my parents some peace of mind.

My mum is a member of Klasp and she told me that they were in need of new members on the committee. I was invited to join initially on an adhoc basis so that I could fit it around my work – that was over a year ago and I’m proud to say that I now sit alongside the inspiring parents who keep Klasp going, raising money to ensure that our loved ones keep their advocate. Being part of the team has not taken much effort and, for me, knowing that I am having a positive impact not only for Jemima, but for the other Klasp members, truly makes it worthwhile.

In order to keep Klasp running smoothly, to have excellent advocates supporting our siblings, we need more people actively involved. We meet over Zoom once a quarter, so it’s really easy to fit into your busy schedule. The team may hate me a little for saying this, but this group of leaders are no longer spring chickens, they need us, the next generation, to bring ideas and support them.

Klasp was created with the vision that all families would be involved and work together to build and drive the advocacy programme. So, even if you are just a little curious, have a fund raising idea, or you have a skill that you can share then please do get in touch.  We’d love to hear from you and every little bit of support helps.