Counselling service launched for young people affected by MND

Child on Laptop

Children and young people affected by motor neurone disease (MND) can now access professional counselling within days rather than months thanks to a collaboration by two charities.

Research by the Motor Neurone Disease Association found children whose close family members had been diagnosed with the terminal illness were having to wait up to 18 months to access vital counselling services. The new support service, developed in collaboration with the UK’s leading children’s charity Barnardo’s will slash that waiting time to just five days.

The tailored counselling is available for children, young people and their families. It is based on the Barnardo’s 2020 Family Support Service which has supported hundreds of families dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new service has been adapted specifically for families affected by MND.

Young people can access the counselling at any stage they need support – from the diagnosis of a loved one to post-bereavement. The sessions are held online or over the phone.

Barnardo’s therapists will also support and empower parents, giving them the tools, knowledge and access to resources to help younger children who may find it difficult to engage with sessions virtually.

Laura Willix, Children and Young Persons Service Development Manager for the MND Association said:

“Parents with MND have always told that us one of their biggest worries is the impact of their diagnosis on their family. The disease can progress rapidly and children and young people in need of help cannot wait months, and in some cases years, for vital support.  Our new service will give children fast access to counselling sessions as soon as they need it. They can talk openly about their worries and fears to a counsellor with specialist MND knowledge who will help them deal with the difficult times ahead and hopefully go some way to alleviating the worries of the loved one facing the disease.”

Sarah Wilkinson, Operations Manager at the Barnardo’s LINK Therapeutic Support Service said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with the MND Association; having the opportunity to support children and young people to manage the challenges and anxieties that they may be facing.  Both Barnardo’s and the MND Association clearly share core values around strengthening family relationships and promoting safer childhoods. By working in partnership, I believe we can make a real difference to the families we work with.”

The service has been funded by the James Milner Foundation as part of its commitment to support children and young people affected by MND.

James Milner said:

“Both myself and the James Milner Foundation have seen first-hand the devasting affect that motor neurone disease has, not just on the person who is unfortunately having to live and fight the disease but the persons family and children. The James Milner Foundation collaboration with Barnardo’s and the MND Association can hopefully support a lot of children and younger people and reduce the time it takes for counselling support at a time when they need it the most”.

If you are interested in the service, please contact Children and Young Persons Development Manager, Laura Willix at cyp@mndassociation.org.

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262