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Sycamore Trust continuing to support Dagenham and Romford service users during coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 April 2020

The Sycamore Trust's family services manager Debbie Gadbury and chief executive Chris Gillbanks. Picture: Sycamore Trust.

The Sycamore Trust's family services manager Debbie Gadbury and chief executive Chris Gillbanks. Picture: Sycamore Trust.

Sycamore Trust

The end of April is normally when charity Sycamore Trust reflects on a successful World Autism Awareness Week.

Flashback: The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, on a visit to the  Sycamore Trust for Autism Awareness Week about a year ago. Picture: Ken MearsFlashback: The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, on a visit to the Sycamore Trust for Autism Awareness Week about a year ago. Picture: Ken Mears

However, coronavirus conspired to cancel all events planned between March 30 and April 5, leaving the autism charity frustrated.

Though the lockdown has also led to the closure of the Dagenham centre and the Autism Hub in Romford, the trust remains determined to operate as normally as possible.

At the centre of this effort is Debbie Gadbury, the charity’s family services co-ordinator, who is working tirelessly during this uniquely challenging time.

As she explains, the needs of those with, and affected by, autism are as critical as ever: “Children on the autistic spectrum, like most kids, react differently to any given situation and that’s certainly the case right now, made even more complicated by the unprecedented nature of the lockdown.

“A number are happy with the current circumstances, while others are struggling with the new reality.”

Accommodating the distinct needs of each child is difficult when so much of the charity’s valuable work relies on face to face contact.

Debbie is in regular contact with parents, many of whom struggled with the immediate changes brought about by schools closing.

Beyond the difficulties of imposing a new routine on a child with autism, parents are also worried about life after lockdown: “Several of the children we work with are quite reclusive and they are enjoying it.

“Their parents are worried that they have settled into their new routine and may struggle to go back to school, whenever they re-open.”

Debbie is also worried that the isolation forced by lockdown will count against much of the trust’s work, which is designed “to encourage children to improve their communication skills and mix more effectively with their peers”.

These concerns highlight why it’s important that the trust continues to support its service users.

The charity is also taking part in the 2.6 challenge, designed to make up the shortfall of donations lost through the postponement of the London Marathon.


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