UK Charities Offer Counseling to Children Confronting ALS, MND in Family

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by Diana Campelo Delgado |

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The Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association and the children’s charity Barnardo’s have launched a counseling service for young people in the U.K. whose family is affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or another motor neurone disease (MND).

The service is expected to open counseling help to these children and adolescents within a week, shaving months off current waiting times. Research by the MND Association found that children can wait up to 18 months to access such support services.

“Children and young people in need of help cannot wait months, and in some cases years, for vital support. Our new service will give children fast access to counselling sessions as soon as they need it,” Laura Willix, children and young people’s service development manager at the MND Association, said in a press release.

The tailored counseling that will be provided is based on the Barnardo’s 2020 Family Support Service, which offered practical and therapeutic support to hundreds of vulnerable families in the U.K. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These counseling services are specifically adapted for children and young people dealing with MND, after a close family member is diagnosed with a disease like ALS. Professional counseling will be provided in online sessions or through phone calls at any stage that young people might need support.

“They can talk openly about their worries and fears to a counsellor with specialist MND knowledge who will help them deal with the difficult times ahead,” Willix added.

Barnardo’s therapists will also support families by giving parents tools, knowledge, and access to resources to help children struggling to engage with the virtual sessions.

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with the MND Association; having the opportunity to support children and young people to manage the challenges and anxieties that they may be facing,” said Sarah Wilkinson, operations manager at the Barnardo’s LINK Therapeutic Support Service.

Financial support for this service is given by the James Milner Foundation, a charity that promotes healthy recreation through sports, education, and preservation of health among young people in the U.K.

“The James Milner Foundation collaboration with Barnardo’s and the MND Association can hopefully support a lot of children and younger people and reduce the time it takes for counselling support at a time when they need it the most,” said James Milner, professional footballer and founder of the James Milner Foundation.

Young people in the U.K. with a family member diagnosed with ALS or another MND interested in this counseling service can email Willix at [email protected].