Established by the incomparable Forces' Sweetheart - Dame Vera Lynn who lifted the spirits of our troops and captured the hearts of a nation during WW2 and beyond, the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity (DVLCC) has been supporting families and children aged under five with cerebral palsy and other motor learning difficulties since 2001.
Created to give very special children a place where they can learn and thrive in a warm setting surrounded by people that understand their unique journey, DVLCC appreciates that children with cerebral palsy or other motor learning difficulties face a challenging road, but, not all roads are the same.
DVLCC relocated to its new facility in Cuckfield, West Sussex in early 2017 to become more accessible to a wider geographical area of families. The charity, which supports families from across the South East, uses conductive education at their core of its service - a pioneering holistic approach to physiotherapy, teaching and learning that aims to give children better control over their movements and posture. The children will need to learn how to do the most basic and instinctual tasks that a typical child will learn on their own. These tasks may be as simple as holding their head up, making eye contact and smiling at their parents' faces.
Parents and children work together in their sessions, enabling mums and dads to actively participate with their child's learning and development. Children learn through play and supportive physical techniques to unlock their inner strengths and these practices can then be applied in the home environment. This early intervention builds confidence and self-esteem for both parent and child.
From its new centre, the charity will continue to offer early intervention sessions alongside other vital support services such as Saturday and holiday clubs, outreach support in the home, and access to a parent support network.
Children will also have access to assistive interactive technology, such as white boards, tablets and 'magic carpets' - which project games and images onto floors - and help and support will be offered to parents, on hiring equipment and toys.
Pilar Cloud, Executive Manager of the Charity, said:
"Our facility acts as a beacon of support and reassurance to our families. We are on hand to help any parent that may have questions or concerns about their child's development. Children and their families are at the fore of everything we do, and we are here to show everything they can achieve."
Dame Vera Lynn added:
"Early intervention is key to helping young children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning conditions gain a solid base from which they can develop their independence and self-esteem in later life. This is why I was determined to ensure this service could continue in my home county of Sussex and support families from across the South East.
I am so proud of how far the charity has come and all the work it does to support our families. It makes it all worthwhile when the children we have helped get in touch to tell us what they are doing and achieving as adults."
DVLCC receives no statutory funding and relies entirely on the community to raise the funds needed each year to ensure it can continue to provide this vital service to the families it supports.