Disabled children and their parents met someone who shared their experiences when Samantha Cameron opened a new centre to help them in Horsham.
The wife of Prime Minister David Cameron launched the Hop Skip and Jump Foundation for disabled children as part of the charity’s “Care In the High Street” initiative.
Mrs Cameron, 44, has first-hand knowledge of caring for a severely disabled child, having lost her son Ivan at only six in 2009 to the rare Ohtahara Symdrome that caused him severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy throughout his life. At the time she spoke of how looking after a disabled child “pushes you to the limits of what you can cope with, physically and emotionally.”
In an upbeat private visit on Tuesday Mrs Cameron, who has three other children, Nancy 11, Arthur 9 and Florence, four, chatted to families. She also saw how special soft play and sensory areas, together with other facilities, helped youngsters who live with a wide range of often complex disabilities. She also talked to charity workers and people from Horsham District Council and the town centre management who helped set up the new centre.
Mrs Cameron, a long term supporter of Hop, Skip and Jump, said:“This very special centre, the second of its kind in the country, offers children with special needs and their families, a safe haven in the heart of the town.
“I have personal experience of the horrible struggle of attempting to do the weekly shop while caring for a disabled child and of trying to change nappies on the floor of a public toilet while out and about.
“ I would have loved to have found such a supportive centre, where my child could be cared for while I carried out the everyday chores that other families take for granted.
“ I passionately support Hop, Skip and Jump’s commitment to help families cope with the challenges a disabled child brings, and fully back their amazing vision to offer ‘Care in the High Street’ facilities to families right across the country. I applaud the owners of Swan Walk Shopping Centre and Horsham District Council for their support of the charity and hope that similar partnerships can take place elsewhere.”