Super Siblings was born out of one mother’s passion to support the oft-overlooked siblings of children and young people with a disability. Sophie Smart has an 11-year-old daughter called Elyse, and a 4-year-old son who is living his “amazing” life with a range of very challenging conditions. Sophie saw the impact of her son’s struggles on the wellbeing of his sister and was moved to do something not just for her own daughter, but for all families who face this same challenge. A search of support for people like Elyse came up empty, so the family sat down together to explore what they could do. The name, logo and key purpose of Super Siblings – to provide a space for siblings of children with additional needs to have fun, talk, and understand each other – were the result.
After a number of enquiries and initial conversations, Sophie found herself sitting with our Groups Advisor, Karl Parks, as “just a mum with an idea”. Karl’s enthusiasm for Sophie’s idea, and his understanding of the need for support like this was a huge encouragement to her, and gave her the impetus she needed to take the first steps towards becoming a registered charity and all that this entailed. “The first meeting I had with Karl felt overwhelming – but exciting-overwhelming,” said Sophie, who was keen to learn everything from Charity Commission requirements to where to go for DBS checks and relevant training. “With Karl, there was never a closed door,” she said. “He has always been able to answer my questions. If it wasn’t for his support, the whole process would have taken so much longer.”
Nearly two years have passed since the original idea came to Sophie and her family, and Super Siblings is now a registered charity with over 40 families signed up to be a part of the first-ever Super Sibling sessions which will begin in September this year. Sophie’s vision for this project shone through as she spoke – they are a chance for the siblings, to meet, talk about their experiences and have the opportunity to have fun and be the focus of attention. “I’ve had so many families e-mail me saying they’ve been waiting so long for this,” said Sophie. “I’ve received positive messages of thanks already from families and professionals.”
Sophie said that the most helpful thing about Karl’s support has been the way he has broken steps down into starting points. “He’s been nothing but incredible for Super Siblings,” said Sophie. “I have put so much trust in him.” Right down to helping Sophie to build her vision slowly and steadily, remembering to take a break and breathe during the process. She is already looking to the future, and is brimming with new ideas. “Once the sessions are up-and-running and I see what’s working and what’s not, I’d like to broaden it out beyond Crawley.” She envisions us being right alongside her helping her to manage everything and guiding her along the way. “It’s comforting to have someone saying you’re doing it right.”