WHEN your child is diagnosed with a disability, it can be difficult to know where to turn.

Organised by Scope and funded by the Health Lottery, Face2Face is a new befriending service for mums and dads who have disabled children is being launched this week.

The befrienders, who all have disabled children themselves, will be on hand to speak to other parents in the same situation.

And, when they need help, they can point parents in the direction of the correct organisations.

Anna Hinton, 34, is the group’s organiser, and she and husband Andrew, 34, – a medical research assistant at the Harwell campus – have a seven-year-old disabled daughter, Scarlett, as well as two-year-old Heidi, who is not disabled.

Scarlett is a pupil at special needs school Kingfisher School in Abingdon. She has autism and a rare genetic condition that causes kidney problems and seizures.

Abingdon resident Mrs Hinton said: “I have been to other support groups when my daughter was born and they really kept me going in the early days, especially because we were in and out of hospital a lot and it was just nice to talk to other parents who understood.

“It can be daunting to have a disabled child and it is hard to understand if you have not been through it yourself.”

The county-wide service, which will launch on Thursday, will not only offer group meetings but also the opportunity to make home visits for people who cannot easily leave the house.

Mum-of-six, Lucie Taylor, has two disabled children aged 12 and five, and will be one of the befrienders.

“She hopes that with her experience she can offer a lot to parents in the same situation.

The 33-year-old Oxford resident said: “It can be very isolating. Even though I have a brilliant husband, it is nice to have someone else you can talk to who has been in the same position.

“It can be very daunting having children with disabilities, especially when you are in limbo waiting for a diagnosis, because you can’t find a support group and nobody else really understands.

“If I can help ano-ther person I will feel like I have learnt something from my experiences.”

The launch will take place at The Kings Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford on Thursday from 9.30am to 2.30pm. The sessions will be held on a one-to-one basis in people’s homes. You can use this service even if your child has not been diagnosed.

Organisers are hoping to set up larger group sessions as the scheme grows.

  •  For more details, contact anna.hinton @scope. org.uk, call 07775 926 572 or visit the website at scope.org.uk/ face2face