Asking for any help is problematic for many various reasons. Pride, embarrassment and being a sign of weakness are usually the main culprits for this. I’m not afraid to admit that I am guilty of the latter. 

I blame our ancestors, thousands of years ago it was all about survival, hunting and gathering to provide for our families. It was a battle of the fittest and not for the faint hearted. This survival instinct has lodged itself within our family ancestors and slid down our family trees. I was brought up with the mantras – ‘stand on your own two feet’, ‘always do things for yourself’, ‘don’t rely on anyone else’. I can hear my Nan’s words now encouraging me to be fiercely independent and financially secure by having a stable job. The advice served me well, plus I am quite stubborn which at times is my achilles heel. 

However, my outlook changed quite dramatically when my son was diagnosed with Autism aged 4, he is now 8. The independent persona had to be put to one side and my son and his needs were the primary priority. I became vulnerable myself in many ways and struggled with my long standing beliefs and the thought of asking for any help was not an option.

 

My partner and I were both working crazy hours and I was unable to manage full time work and be a full time mum to a child with special needs. I made a life changing decision to be a stay at home mum/carer so that I was able to focus on his needs. I spent many hours attending multi agency meetings or seeing health professionals which sadly impacted us financially and would have made it impossible to commit to my job.

Moving swiftly on... I regularly attended portage groups with my son and my portage worker told me all about Family Fund and what it could offer to families just like me. I was initially hesitant and apprehensive that we might be using funds for someone else. Why would they give it me? Do I fit the required criteria? I kept asking myself loads of questions not wanting to raise any false hopes.

I then looked at Family Fund’s website for further information and promptly filled in an application form for a grant, opting for a short break. Our application was awarded and within weeks that long awaited break had been booked for the next half term. I was quite proud that I had actually asked for help and very happy that we could have a family break. I remember telling my partner not to tell anyone it was from a charity just in case we were judged or worse still Family Fund would change their minds. 

The short break was fantastic and I was so glad I took the plunge and put my pride to one side. As soon as I was able to apply again my application went straight back in for another break. The second time was easier as Family Fund already had loads of information from my first application. The difference and the quality time we have spent together making memories is priceless.

In total we have had four breaks, one at Butlin’s, one in Devon/Cornwall and two at Haven sites which have just recently included a Haven staycation. As a family these breaks have been invaluable and thoroughly enjoyable for many reasons, plus without the grant the purse strings would have been really stretched. 

I have learnt that it’s not a weakness to ask for help and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and shows great courage. Family Fund are an excellent charity that goes above and beyond to give grants to families in need. We are currently in unpredictable times and Family Fund have continued to provide support to families which is amazing and commendable. 

Never be afraid to ask for help… you may be pleasantly surprised. Create memories.

Karen is a new Family Fund Blogger, read more stories from families like Karen's here.

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