A new joint report from Family Fund and the University of Portsmouth, ‘Do Siblings Matter Too?’, reveals the impact a disabled brother or sister has on a child or young person, showing their experience first-hand through photographs.

This report highlights a number of key themes for siblings, ranging from elements of a typical sibling relationship to issues of lack of time, experience of aggression, violence and emotional upset.

Data taken from over 2,000 Family Fund assessments contributed to the report, in which the key findings show:

  • Siblings are often overlooked and their needs often ignored by policy makers and service providers.
  • Siblings are not identified by local authorities and schools.
  • Few siblings are being supported by agencies such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) or Young Carer groups and it would be of benefit if access to these and similar services, could be made more widely available.

A 17 year-old sibling who spoke about their experience for the report said:

“I think that being a sibling you get your ups and downs anyway…but just because there is the added bit of the disability sometimes you don’t know what she is going to do or how she’s going to take it or react, you have to be a bit more careful, because it can be a bit of a rollercoaster, up and down.”

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive at the Family Fund, said:

"Family Fund has supported siblings of disabled children through our Siblings Matter Too grant programme for over four years with 1,487 grants provided.  But with over 500,000 siblings of disabled children in the UK, we have a long way to go to reach all of those in need.”

“This report shows just how important it is to recognise the vital role siblings play in the family, and in a lot of cases sharing the care of their brother or sister. Siblings are not identified within support services, , we are calling on policymakers to start the conversation on the needs and challenges of siblings and look at the services that need to be developed.  Let’s listen to the voices and experiences outlined in this report and make this happen.”

Jenny Peddar, author of the report and Senior Lecturer at the School of Health Sciences and Social Work, University of Portsmouth, said:

“This study confirmed some expectations of the impact of having a sibling with a disability and raised a number of additional issues. Siblings experience a wide range of issues and this study showed very limited support for these young people. The complexity of life for these families needs wider recognition by services and the voice of the siblings needs to be heard by those working with the families.'”

Read the report.

Do you or your organisation work with siblings of disabled children? Would you like to raise this issue with policy makers in your area? If so, please contact Family Fund.