Support group up for national award

Volunteer Maddie Wilson (left) and Calmer Therapy founder Donna Swan.
Volunteer Maddie Wilson (left) and Calmer Therapy founder Donna Swan.

A support group helping Northumberland families with children who have additional needs has been nominated for two prestigious national awards.

Calmer Therapy, based in south east Northumberland, was set up by Donna Swan three years ago.

Donna has now been nominated for the Entrepreneur of Excellence (Disability) Award at the National Diversity Awards.

And Calmer Therapy itself has been nominated for the Community Organisation (Disability) gong.

After her young son was diagnosed with autism and a range of behavioural difficulties, Donna – who lives in Bedlington – decided to learn as much as she could about his condition, treatment and care.

She became a highly qualified care worker and was employed in behavioural units, where she encountered parents who were desperate to get their children home.

Donna, who now has two children, both with autism and additional needs, said: “The reality hit me, how desperate these parents are – crying and doing anything to get their children home.”

To attempt to fill this gap, Donna started Calmer Therapy to provide practical support, advice and training.

She also started her own version of the scouts to provide outdoor learning and experiences.

The awards will be announced at a ceremony in Liverpool in September.

For more information about Calmer Therapy, visit its website http://calmertherapy.co.uk/
Volunteer Maddie Wilson, whose nine-year-old son has Tourette’s and additional needs, said: “Being outdoors was like being unplugged. It was a safe way to explore his anxieties and gave him and the others the same opportunities as children his age.”

She added: “What I found in Calmer Therapy was acceptance and inclusion, and actually it’s alright not to know what to do because there’s somebody who will know.

“When you have a child in mainstream school nobody else has these problems so the teachers can’t tell you where to go. They can give you a vague idea, but there’s a six-month waiting list before you can speak to somebody.”

One of the children Calmer Therapy is currently supporting was at the Ariane Grande concert in Manchester when the bomber struck.

Donna said: “She needs our help because she has anxiety issues. We might only have her for a couple of months, but where would she have gone? How long would she have waited to see somebody?”