After the tragic loss of our beloved Grandaughter Amy Ruth in 1999 aged just 8 years old after contracting Meningitis, my wife Meriel and I, obviously our daughter Jayne and the rest of our family were understandably distraught. Jayne’s second child Molly Rose also deeply loved was born with severe special needs and suffered multiple epileptic seizures many times each week. Having witnessed first hand the difficulties in caring for a child with additional needs, we felt compelled to do something for Jayne and all the other families who were in a similar situation.
Therefore Meriel and I founded Amy’s House in memory of our Amy and for children like our Molly. Jayne had said how isolating it can be when you have a child with special needs, so we set up a coffee morning for parents to come and chat and share experiences and all the while our 3 fully qualified carers looked after the children to give Mum or Dad a break.
It quickly became apparent that we could offer more respite for parents and the need was certainly there as there was nothing in our area of Handsworth, Sheffield . So we decided to open up on a Saturday from 10 am until 3pm. Children would come and play and the parents had a full day to do whatever they wanted! Whether that was spending some quality time with their other children or just doing the shopping or putting their feet up! It was very well received and places were quickly snapped up.
We now care and support upwards of 80 families. This can be in the form of Saturday play sessions, school holiday sessions or indeed helping them through the minefield that is Direct Payments. We have also introduced Personal Assistants, who can provide care for a child in the home or in hospital when the parents can’t be there. Sadly in 2011 we also lost our wonderful Molly Rose aged 17. Again, although heartbroken we wanted to keep Molly’s name alive too. So we introduced a ‘sister’ group to Amy’s House called Molly’s Mates. Here we offer children who are a little older the chance to practice their life skills and have fun with their peers. This again has proven to be a resounding success!
We have a new building now, housing a state of the art sensory room and tv lounge for the young people to chill out and play on the x box or be upstairs making biscuits! We have a board of voluntary directors who are all committed to providing the best possible care for these wonderful, unique children and we all get so much pleasure from watching them learn and grow in confidence. We will never forget our two girls, but their names and memory live on in such a positive way that we can’t help but feel proud.