I waved goodbye to my twins as they left in the nursery bus, had a quick cup of tea and then headed to the support group I went to once a month. I’d only started going when my son had been diagnosed with severe autism just a few months previously and it was the only place I had the courage to go to. I felt alone, isolated and low.

With no family support and having not long moved to the area with two four year olds I couldn’t work and was reliant on benefits just to survive. As I sat listening to the lady who ran the group my mind wandered to things at home; I was in emergency credit on my electric, I needed to buy nappies for my four year old on the way home, and even worse my kids were still sleeping in toddler beds because I hadn’t got the means to get them single beds yet. 

But no one knew and I was far too embarrassed to tell anyone we were struggling. 

At the end of that support meeting I left with some leaflets. I put them in my coat pocket, bought the nappies and walked home. At lunch I took out the leaflets, glanced at them and was about to bin them when one caught my eye. The child in the picture of one of them reminded me so much of my son so I opened the leaflet and read it. 

I had never heard of Family Fund and tears filled my eyes at the thought of a charity who supplied grants to families like mine. But pride and embarrassment made me file the form away. 

The kids came back before I had finished my tea and life was full on once again. But eventually bedtime came around and as my four year old son sat rocking on his toddler bed I heard it break. 

That night he slept on a mattress on the floor and the next morning I picked up that Family Fund leaflet. 

I’d never applied to a charity before. I felt ashamed to admit I needed help. I worried what others might think, but I knew I couldn’t let my kids continue sleeping how they were. 

I picked up a pen and started filling in the form. It was surprisingly simple and the proof needed was easy for me to supply. I walked to the local shop, topped up my electric and photocopied my supporting documents, then posted it away. 

In just a matter of weeks I heard back and within eight weeks I had two single beds arrive, with new mattresses and even bedding for the children! 

It was just in time as that very week my son started having seizures and that bed prevented him injuring himself while he seized uncontrollably. Both children loved their beds, slept so much better. Less than a year later my daughter went on to be diagnosed autistic too. My son later got diagnosed with epilepsy and a progressive genetic condition. Last year he had brain surgery for a brain tumour too. 

The year after the grant for the beds, Family Fund emailed me to say I could apply again. At first, I didn’t want to. I felt we had had our ‘turn’ and I didn’t want to take funding from another family. Then our washing machine broke and with my son having seizures and still eating with his fingers, my washing was mounting so high the kids were fast running out of clothes.

I swallowed my pride and applied again; this time online. Because I had applied before I didn’t even need to post more proof and the application was simple and quick. Once again, we were rewarded. I cried when my new washing machine arrived. 

It’s hard sometimes to admit you need help. It can be embarrassing and you may even feel like a failure. But there should be no stigma to needing support. Raising a disabled child takes bravery, courage and strength, and I now encourage any family who qualifies to use those very attributes to seek the help when needed. 

It’s absolutely worth it, and I needn’t have been embarrassed at all. 

Asking isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a sign of strength and courage. 

Find out how to apply for a Family Fund grant here.

Read more from our Family Fund Bloggers.

To read more from Miriam, visit her blog Faith Mummy.