An introduction from our children and family specialists

Hello everyone, we’re Fiona and Zahida. We plan and deliver activities and support for children, young people and their families at Henshaws and we wanted to share some of our knowledge with you.

It can be a daunting and scary time for a parent when you first find out that your child has sight loss, so we are here to support and advise you and offer some information that you might find useful.

We’ll be blogging about lots of different topics, alongside other members of our team, around supporting children with visual impairments including:

  • Ideas for play and development activities for your child
  • Information on which professionals might be able to help you
  • Registering your child as blind
  • Supporting the development and independence of your child
  • Benefits and Grants information
  • Transitions in your child’s life
  • Parenting with sight loss

But firstly, we would like to introduce ourselves:

Fiona and Zahida smiling at the camera in our Manchester community hub

Fiona McMullen – Community Services Team Leader

I’m the Community Services Team Leader at Henshaws. It’s my responsibility to develop and deliver Children’s Services based in Manchester and support our teams in Merseyside and Newcastle. I originally trained as a Primary School Teacher before completing additional training to become a Hospital Play Specialist, working with children with a range of needs.

I’ve worked in the field of Children and Families for over 15 years and love the challenges and rewards this brings. The greatest reward is seeing our activities take place and the enjoyment the families get out of these as well as seeing them achieve things they thought they never would and enabling them to live more independent lives.

Zahida Khan – Asian Family Link Worker

I’m an Asian Family Link worker and have been with Henshaws for over 7 years. Cultural and language barriers often prevent families seeking support for their visually impaired children and this is made worse by a lack of trust of external agencies that can reduce access to services. I work with children of Asian and other BME ethnic origins and develop trust within families in order to open up new social and support opportunities. I speak both Urdu and Punjabi which also helps to break down some of these barriers.

I’m a qualified Youth and Community Worker and have worked in lots of support roles before joining Henshaws. My passion has always been supporting and encouraging families from BME backgrounds as well as raising awareness of the issues facing them and ensuring cultural needs are considered and provided for, whilst working with them to develop independence.

Look out for our posts in the upcoming months

We’re going to be contributing regularly to the blog so if you’re a parent, look out for our posts. We hope you enjoy reading them and find them useful, and if you have any ideas for topics you would like to see us cover then please do let us know in the comments below.

Please visit the Children and Families section of our website for more information, and of course you can get in touch with us on 0161 872 1234 if you or your family need support.

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Fiona is a Community Services Team Leader at Henshaws and is responsible for planning and delivering activities and support for children, young people and their families across Greater Manchester and Liverpool. Fiona also has responsibility for co-ordinating adult Friendship Matters groups.