Somerset

Bibic children's charity asks for child sponsors

Kathryn and Zack Swan
Image caption Zack began having problems after the sudden death of his sister

A children's charity is asking people to sponsor two of the youngsters who use its therapy service.

Bibic is based in Somerset but helps children with developmental problems and brain injuries from all over the country.

The charity has seen its funds drop from £1.2m three years ago to less than £600,000 this year.

Kathryn Swan, whose son is a face of the campaign, said it was no different to sponsoring a child in Africa.

It costs £3,000 a year for a child to attend Bibic, which is based near Bridgwater.

'Vegetable state'

Mrs Swan, who moved her family from Lancashire to be nearer the therapy centre, said: "It's our refuge."

She said she had no qualms over her autistic son Zack, five, being used to help publicise the campaign.

"Children like Zack do need sponsoring because they're just as important as children in other countries," she said.

"It's not a new thing. There's people on the TV every day asking people to sponsor a child in Africa.

Image caption Bibic said fundraising needed to be more creative because people had less money to donate

"People will sponsor that child because they automatically jump to the conclusion children in this country are catered for. They aren't catered for.

"As parents you can only do so much and you can only ask professionals to do so much because they have budgets they have to adhere to."

Mrs Swan said Zack "regressed into a vegetable state" after the sudden death of his sister.

"We moved here nearly five years ago now because we felt we weren't getting the provisions that we needed up in Lancashire. Bibic was giving us everything that the local county couldn't.

"They showed us how to work with Zack at home and they did a full assessment on him. They spent an incredibly long period of time finding out exactly what he was missing.

"From working on all of those areas they've brought him out to be the little boy that he is today. I've got everything to thank them for.

"Bibic are offering everything that should rightly be offered to children with disabilities."

'Grab attention'

Jess Winchester, Bibic's fundraising manager, said she believed the charity was the first in the country to ask for sponsorship for individual children.

"We find that everybody's been hit very hard by the recession so we're having to be really creative with the ideas we come up with," she said.

"The child sponsorship scheme is just something we're hoping will grab the attention of supporters and help us raise vital funds.

"Two families in particular have come forward and offered their children as figureheads for the scheme and it's a fantastic way for the community and supporters to find out more about the work we do.

"People assume that every vulnerable child in the UK is supported by social services. In actual fact just 4% of disabled kids are under that sort of care."

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