'We need your votes' says lifeline charity

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: APPEAL: Wendy Rhodes (left) and Wendy Uttley, of Down Syndrome Training & Support Service Ltd APPEAL: Wendy Rhodes (left) and Wendy Uttley, of Down Syndrome Training & Support Service Ltd

A charity which provides a "lifeline" to families of children with Down Syndrome is appealing for people in Bradford to back its bid for a prestigious National Lottery Award.

Down Syndrome Training & Support Service Ltd, based at the Pamela Sunter Centre in Bingley, has been named as one of seven UK finalists in the awards' education category for its 'Just Kids' project.

The project provides information, training and support for parents and professionals living and working with children with Down Syndrome, through a variety of different courses, activities, and intervention sessions.

Dr Wendy Uttley founded the support group in 2000 after her son Sam was born with the condition.

She said like many new parents of a baby with Down syndrome, she needed specialised help but was met with a lack of support and understanding from both professionals and her social circle.

With National Lottery funding, she developed the project into a valuable service offering practical, educational and emotional support.

“Over the years I have developed ten different training courses, many unique," said Dr Uttley.

"Without Lottery funding I would not have had the capacity or time to achieve this kind of output and success.

"I am very proud of our journey and the level of care we provide to families and professionals.”

The charity teaches early years skills, such as literacy and numeracy, to children with down syndrome, as well as offering fun activities such as street dance, and professional training in areas such as speech therapy and signing.

It works with a database of more than 300 families, and about 200 education professionals.

Wendy Rhodes, the charity's events co-ordinator, said: "The charity has just grown and grown since it was started by Wendy (Uttley)

"She has so much energy for the cause, and is a massive inspiration to the rest of the staff.

"Getting into the top seven of more than 7,000 entrants is great news. Everyone has been very supportive and families who use the services have been passing the word on.

"A lot of the families who use our services say they are like a lifeline, and being recognised in the awards will really raise the profile of the charity and the work we do.

"It will also raise awareness that down syndrome children can be included, and achieve, in mainstream education and society."

The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects, with winners in each category receiving £2,000 for their projects and the chance to appear at the star-studded BBC awards show.

The deadline for the public vote is midnight on July 23, and votes can be cast by phone on 0844 836 9680, or online at downsupportbradford.btck.co.uk/NationalLotteryAwards2014.

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