“When I got my daughters diagnosis I was distraught and only thought the worst case scenario, I felt lost and as if I had nobody to turn too. Although I had great support from family and friends I still felt alone and as if nobody quite knew how I was feeling. Months after my daughter’s diagnosis and after trawling through endless help and advice pages somebody recommended HemiChat. That first day I joined the group, it felt like a massive sigh of relief, I read pages and pages of posts from other families in my situation and finally felt like I had people that would understand me. This group has been brilliant, I’ve been able to ask others for advice or guidance as well as just have a rant here and there and others truly do understand where I’m coming from. I can share my lows and highs and I know I’m not judged (even if I do go on)

This group has guided me so much and helped me through dark times! I also feel as we are all one big happy family, and when my daughter achieves long awaited milestones I find that I can’t wait to share them with all too. And this is because WE ARE ONE BIG FAMILY!!! I also love that what’s shared is soley private, and not shared.

My family attended our first meet Sunday funded by HemiChat and it was brilliant meeting the faces behind names and other children. The work HemiChat do is amazing; and it’s a great privilege to be one of the members.

I would also like to say a big Thank you to those that work hard and endlessly behind the scenes if it wasn’t for you all this group/charity wouldn’t be here, so for that id like to say a personal big Thank you. Here’s to many more years of Hem iChat the ever growing family”

Rebecca Barber Grant, Mum to Demi-Leigh (2 yrs old)
Charity Member

“Our family have been to a couple of the hemi chat events and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting other families that are affected by Hemi/CP. It was great to see all the children getting along and having fun whilst at the same time the adults could chat and get to know each other. Additionally the group on the website is amazing! No matter what I post there’s always someone to offer excellent help, advice, support or just a Virtual hug when needed. A massive thank you to Gill, the trustees and to everyone who raises money for hemi chat”

Kelly Travers, Mum to Harrison (11 year old)
Charity Member

“I would just like to say that the work and support of Hemichat is fantastic, if it was not for finding the group on Facebook I think I would be a little lost at times. The group has become full of lovely members who are all there for each other either with good advice or just virtual hugs. The meets which are organised are fantastic it gives us the parents but more importantly the kids to get together and know we are not alone with our children’s journey through life. Personally our little boy Dan 9 left hemi loves to play with the other kids and it’s one of the times where he is not embarrassed to wear his splint and can be himself and it also gives his brother Ben a chance to play and talk with other siblings on the meets. The fundraising is important to be able to keep doing the meet ups and this year my husband along with other members did the 3 peaks challenge to raise money for Hemichat and what a fantastic achievement it was. Thank you HemiChat and Gill Hayes for all the hard work you do, we will always do our best to support the charity in any way we can.”

Helen Drew, Mum to Dan (9 yrs old)
Charity Member

“Hemichat is an invaluable resource of information and support for all parents/carers of children with cerebral palsy. The events are well organised, appropriate and stimulating for our children and parents/carers. The parent’s forum enables parents/carers to access a wealth of information and personal experiences. Also there is a realisation that you are not on your own, Hemichat is a support network family.”

Sara Wood, Mum to Matthew (6 yrs old)
Charity Member

“Finding out my son Jamie had hemiplegia was a shock and I found it such a scary time in my life, never having heard of the condition I was overloaded with questions until hemichat came along. I could already talk to friends and family but no one understands better than someone who is going through the same as you, with hemichat there is always someone there to answer your concerns, be it with advice, or just to listen and support you even if you just need to let off steam. The hemichat family have been amazing in helping me understand and deal with my sons condition to which I will always be grateful!.”

Tina Allkins, Mum to Jamie (3 yrs old)
Charity Member

My name is Kate and I’m mum to Aine who is five and has right sided hemiplegia. I was introduced to HemiChat by a friend. The support I have received has been invaluable and isn’t available to me anywhere else. I have met some wonderful people, both in person and online, who have shared my worries and given me the benefit of their experiences and I have been there for newly diagnosed parents and those experiencing changes to their children’s condition. Before becoming involved with the parents HemiChat discussions I felt isolated and worried that I wasn’t doing the best for my daughter. Now I feel I am doing the best that I can. We are attending our first meet up in December and I can’t wait. Taking my family to see Father Christmas won’t be stress free but I know I’m amongst people who have a shared understanding. That’s priceless.”

Kate McDonagh, Mum to Aine (5 yrs old)
Charity Member

“Hemichat is a place where I can go. It’s a place where others all who know, What we feel in our hearts which for the norm is worlds apart Ideas, friendship, a helping hand, others to listen, life no more a one man band.”

Kelly Stobbs, Mum to Kyle (4 Yrs old)
Charity Member

“We first found HemiChat around 18 months ago and it is, quite simply, a fantastic charity. We have attended five meet ups with other hemi families here in Northern Ireland which have been funded by HemiChat. Rory has loved making new friends with other children who are just like him and who understand his issues, it really does make our hemi kids feel
like they are not alone or different when they have the opportunity to attend these days. Meanwhile as a parent it has been fantastic for me to utilise the online support network, which has provided me with so much useful information, and also develop face to face friendships with other parents who similarly just ‘get’ what life is like for us living daily
with all that hemi brings. Rory had extensive foot surgery earlier this year and the support and concern from the other mums who I have been privileged to meet (both online and in person) through our hemi family has provided a tower of strength at what has been our most difficult time since diagnosis. I just wish that HemiChat had been around when Rory was younger as I know how much we would have benefitted in the early days, but I think it is amazing that newly diagnosed families now have all the support that HemiChat offers available to them from day one. Earlier this year we organised a sponsored climb of Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, to raise money for HemiChat. This was a big undertaking but shows just how much HemiChat means to us, and we know that as a small charity every penny we raised will go directly to help support hemi families like us.”

Lindsay O’Connor, mum of Rory, age 9 (right hemi)
Charity Member

“Hemichat is a life line for my family, the advice and support from other members is invaluable and the meet ups funded by Hemichat are an opportunity for my son to meet children with similar needs, make new friends and realise he can achieve his dreams inspite of his Hemiplegia”

Sandra Eyre, Mum to Hamilton (Age 6)
Charity Memeber

When my son was diagnosed with Hemiplegia, what bothered me most was that I didn’t know what to expect for the future. I didn’t know anyone else with the condition to get advice from. The consultants are great at the medical/factual stuff, not so good on the emotional/practical stuff! Then I discovered HemiChat. The HemiChat Facebook group is like a really knowledgeable extended family! All our children are individuals and have different diagnoses but I have found there is always someone who has an answer to my questions. That HemiChat also facilitates and part funds meeting this ‘extended family’ in person is even better. I am so pleased that when my son is older he will have the opportunity to meet children who experience similar difficulties to himself. For now, it’s great for me to meet other parents, at different stages on this journey! What I also love about the group is that it is a closed group so I am able to express feelings that I don’t want to share with my wider Facebook friends. After all, this journey is not a smooth ride and there are a lot of bumps along the way but there is always someone who understands, who will pick you up, dust you off and help you back on track!

Leanne White, Mum to Noah (2.5 yrs old)
Charity Member