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40 stories to celebrate 40 years Contact has been supporting families – Mandy and Polly from Powys, Wales

Tuesday 2nd April 2019

Mandy And PollyContact is 40 this year and as part of our celebrations, we are sharing 40 stories from some of the wonderful and inspirational families we support.

Here, Mandy Hughes from Powys in Wales, tells us about the support she received through Contact's Brighter Beginnings early years workshops and how she's still putting into practice the skills that she learnt during the sessions.

"I am mum to three children, Jonathan, aged 21, Polly who is almost three and Archie Thomas, aged 8-months-old. I'm a hairdresser and run my own business, although it is getting harder to juggle the needs of my children, especially my daughter with work.

I attended Contact's Brighter Beginnings workshops in 2017 when Polly was 11 months old. Polly has complex needs, she is tube fed and has an unknown heart condition as well as a choking difficulty.

I am the expert

I didn't realise how complex Polly's needs were until I attended Contact's workshops. I had a nurse helping me to attend the sessions, otherwise I couldn't have gone. She was there to make sure Polly was safe. But she was less confident than me with looking after Polly and that gave me a real sense of belief to know that I am the expert in looking after my daughter.

I attended the full programme of workshops and found them all helpful, but one stood out for me. The 'Getting what you need' session was about confidence building, assertiveness and managing meetings. It was really useful because we have a lot of professionals involved in the care of Polly and I really appreciated the guidance which helped me find my voice and control my emotions when dealing with paediatricians, nurses and other health professionals. The workshops taught me that I am Polly's voice. She is fighting so hard to be here and if I don't speak up for her no one will.

New skills

Polly is now able to sit up unaided, and recently started to clap her hands. She is very pleased with her new skill and we are delighted that she has reached this monumental milestone for her.

I am still putting the skills I learnt at Contact's Brighter Beginnings workshops to good use. Recently Polly needed an operation to reduce her choking and reflux, but it was cancelled over nine times. We went to the hospital and stayed there and I spoke with staff to show them the severity of her needs and the urgency of the procedure. Polly made a real impact on the staff and they said they felt empowered by me which was really nice. And Polly's operation happened and has been a success. Before the operation she was being sick regularly. Now she has not been sick for days and it is like a weight has been lifted from us all."

Get involved with 40 stories

We are looking for celebratory stories from families especially if Contact has helped you. We want the stories to show what life is like for families raising a disabled child and the different ways that Contact can help. If you have a story to share, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with comms@contact.org.uk. We can help you write something, or make a video on your phone.

Find out more about Brighter Beginnings