New group launched to help families

Averil Hirsch and Michelle Penman with their fliers for the open day in October.
Averil Hirsch and Michelle Penman with their fliers for the open day in October.

A PAIR of Carnoustie mothers have started a special group aimed at children with additional needs and their families.

Averil Hirsch and Michelle Penman have launched the Carnoustie Dream Catchers to provide support not only for the children, but also for their families.

Averil is the mother of Ayley and Chloe, the twins who captured the hearts of local people in their campaign to raise money for life-changing treatment for their cerebral palsy.

Similarly, Michelle’s son, Nathan (2), has autism and she has had to give up her job as a social work assistant to look after him.

Both mothers found there was a lack of facilities geared towards children with additional needs and their carers.

Averil said: “I really struggled in the holidays to get Ayley and Chloe into any type of group. While trying to organise something, I found there was a definite lack.

“Yes there are groups in other towns, but not everyone can travel to Arbroath or Montrose where those groups are. Some families don’t have any transport.

“We are aiming to give parents and carers somewhere to go where they can meet people in the same boat and at the same time give their children something to do.”

Michelle was also disappointed with the lack of facilities. She said: “My son was just recently diagnosed with autism, so additional needs is very new to me.

“It became apparent to me there wasn’t a lot for parents to take children to in Carnoustie.

“I sometimes felt that we didn’t really fit in. I felt it would be good to go to a group where people understood what we were going through.”

At Dream Catchers, children will be able to try a range of things, from baking to arts and crafts and once a month they hope to have a visit from a music therapist.

Their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/CarnoustieDreamCatchers has only been online since Monday, but at the time of going to press already had nearly 200 likes.

Michelle and Averil are holding an open day on October 12 between 2 and 4 p.m. in the Comrie Hall to allow people who might benefit the chance to come down and meet them, the volunteers and see what they can offer.

Michelle added: “We’re looking for as many people to tell us what they are wanting. What we want is to be a real community group and find out what their needs are. Let us see what we can do.”

For Averil this is also her own way of saying a practical thank you to her home town.

She explained: “After everything that Ayely and Chloe have been through in the past year and all the help that people in Carnoustie have given us, this is my way of trying to give a little something back to the community.”

Averil and Michelle would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in donating toys, volunteering, or anyone who has a skill or hobby they would like to bring to the group.