North West charity support parents’ mental health with community gift

A North West charity that supports autistic children and young people has given families a community gift to help support their mental health and wellbeing

A North West charity that supports autistic children and young people has given families a community gift to help support their mental health and wellbeing following the pandemic.

Your Space Marches, which provides a range of services including clubs and activities, and coping mechanisms training, has given families currently accessing their outreach support service a £25 Chester Gift Card to spend as they wish in the city, thanks to funding from Wrexham Council.

Debbie Moody is the Deputy Head of Service at Your Space Marches, which is based in Llay:

“We are a small charity with 15 members of staff, working across Wrexham, Cheshire and North Wales. During the pandemic, demand for our services rocketed. Everything seemed to disappear overnight, and families turned to charities like ours for support. Our outreach team increased to 4 full time staff and we moved from face to face services to online, offering everything from craft to Zumba, as well as practical support like picking up prescriptions or shopping.

“The children coped with the pandemic better than the adults. There was a lot of pressure on the adults, such as supporting children to do school-work alongside the demands of general family life. Coming out of the pandemic has highlighted a lot of mental health issues, and for us as a charity, it’s important that we are supporting the whole family including the parents and family members who are dealing with the day to day effects of what is a hidden disorder.”

Your Space Marches were awarded funding from Wrexham Council for an initiative to support mental health through the unpaid carer’s innovation fund in April, and Debbie said the charity automatically thought of parents:

“We chose to give families a £25 Chester Gift Card to remind them that they are doing a fantastic job and to encourage parents to take the time to look after themselves. It also removes the guilt that parents might feel about spending money on themselves. The adults might want to use the gift card to go out for a meal. If they do, we can arrange a sit-in service to take care of the children so they can have a little bit of downtime.  Or they can use the Chester Gift Card as part of a day out with the children.

“When we were looking into how to distribute this money to families, we wanted an option that was local so when families spend the card, the benefit stays here in the North West. A colleague had heard about the Chester Gift Card, and it was ideal for our needs. Chester is a fantastic city to visit and there is so much opportunity for families to use the card.”

The Chester Gift Card launched in November 2020 as part of Chester Business Improvement District’s battleplan to support high street shops from the effects of lockdown, and can be spent with over 115 businesses in the city, including shops, restaurants, cafés, attractions, hotels, salons and more.

Carl Critchlow is the BID Manager at Chester BID and said the choice on offer through the gift card makes it a good choice for all ages:

“It’s fantastic to see a North West charity putting wellbeing and mental health at the top of the agenda, giving parents and families the space and opportunity to have some much needed rest and relaxation time in Chester. It’s vital for us that the Chester Gift Card works for a variety of different ages and interests. Parents can enjoy lunch at Chez Jules or one of the other 40 plus food and drink places which are part of the Chester Gift Card, just as easily as a family can use the card for a boat trip along the River Dee with the children with afternoon tea at Zugers.”

Debbie says the services offered by Your Space Marches are vital for families: “From my own personal experience being a parent of a child with an autistic spectrum disorder, it was a very lonely experience. Having someone at the end of the phone to talk to does make a huge difference. Typically families wait around 3 years for an autism diagnosis but they still need support through that process. For example, we have a toddler group for 0-5 year olds whose parents have concerns about their children. We don’t ask for a diagnosis at Your Space Marches, and we accept families from right across the North West.

“We’re grateful for the support of Wrexham Council in funding this mental health initiative to support our families and know that our families will really appreciate their Chester Gift Card, however they choose to use it. Funding is vital to help us to continue to help our families, and people can get involved in our fundraising activities, including our Manchester 10k that we having coming up by visiting our website:

The Chester Gift Card is part of the award winning Town & City Gift Card program, active in over 70 places around the UK. Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said: “Increasingly, charities and organisations are looking for thank you gifts for service users as well as rewards and incentives for staff that have the added benefit of supporting local. Every pound spent locally is multiplied many more times, as local businesses then invest that money back into the community.”

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