Calderdale charity on a mission to help more families

Here to help: Lucy Armour, Martin Reynolds, Sunny Frealey, Helen Norris and Shona Walsh.
Here to help: Lucy Armour, Martin Reynolds, Sunny Frealey, Helen Norris and Shona Walsh.

The chief executive of Calderdale charity that supports families with disabled children believes there are more people in the community that need help.

Shona Walsh became the chief executive of Unique Ways in January, having had a career of nearly 30 years working with a mixture of national, regional and local charities.

Unique Ways was founded in 2003 and is based on Hanson Lane, Halifax, employing seven staff.

Formerly known as Calderdale Parents and Carers, Unique Ways offers information, training, one-to-one services, peer-to-peer support and access to specialist toys and equipment.

It is a members-only service, although membership is free. It has 1,200 members, but has seen membership grow 15 per cent in the last 12 months.

“Our biggest challenges are two-fold: money and awareness,” said Shona. “Money is a big challenge for every charity to keep you going.

“But a lot of people don’t know the name Unique Ways.

“The biggest concern for me is that we’re doing a fantastic job for our members, but what about the people we’ve not reached yet?

“We want to make more parents and carers aware of us.

“If you have a disabled child or a child with a learning disability, autism or additional learning needs, and you don’t have a diagnosis. If you’re struggling, you can feel quite isolated, so give us a call and we can help.”

It costs £180,000 a year to run the charity, which holds regular coffee mornings and afternoon teas.

Shona added: “My main priority is to strengthen our organisation. We are a small team, but in terms of our offer in direct service provision and our signposting work in helping parent carers find their own unique path, we definitely punch above our weight in Calderdale.

“One of the ways we can strengthen ourselves is to increase our income. To be honest, we’ve not been very good at asking for money. We need to change that.”

The charity’s newly-formed fundraising committee host their first event on Wednesday, June 20 at Cinnamon at the Mill in Greetland.

There will be an Indian buffet and an Indian Elvis providing the entertainment. Tickets are £20, with proceeds going to support the work of the charity.

For more information, call 01422 343090.