Every day in Ireland, 1 in 7 children are lost to homelessness, to abuse, to poverty, to poor policy making, to
waiting lists, to our unjust society that is neglectful of children’s
needs. Barnardos can transform these
children’s lives but we need your support.
By taking part in The Big Toddle for Barnardos sponsored by Toddlebox, you and your little ones can help us ensure that childhood is valued and that every child in Ireland is cherished. Children like Fiadh.
Fiadh’s a delicate red-headed three year old. She spends most of her days sitting in a buggy that she grew out of years ago. Fiadh’s mum is desperate to find a job and move out of their cold, damp 5th floor flat but she is struggling to manage.
Fiadh’s development is far behind other children her age. While most three year olds ask a never ending stream of questions, Fiadh lacks interest and refuses to engage with anyone. She doesn’t seem to know how to play, or interact with other people. She can’t walk properly. She struggles to stand up and is unsure of her footing and she simply keeps her head buried in to the side of her buggy every time someone tries to make eye contact with her.
The reason Fiadh can’t walk properly is
because her leg muscles haven’t developed as they should. She has spent most of her short life confined
to a buggy. She hasn’t been given the chance to walk, to run, to explore. Her
muscles and motor skills simply haven’t been allowed to develop, and that in
turn has affected every other stage of her development.
It took a while for Fiadh’s mother to open up. Her Barnardos key worker could see the mistrust in her eyes, the fear that someone was going to take her daughter from her. Despite all the evidence to the contrary Fiadh’s mother loved and desperately wanted the best for her daughter. She just didn’t know where to start. She explained she kept Fiadh in the buggy to keep her safe. The door of their flat didn’t lock properly and she was terrified Fiadh would get out and be hurt. She wanted only good things for Fiadh, but her own childhood had been so blighted by horrific abuse and neglect that she simply didn’t know how to be a parent herself.
At Barnardos we see this all too often; abuse and neglect passed down from one generation to the next like dysfunctional family heirlooms. It’s not that Fiadh is being wilfully neglected - the neglect is a symptom of her mother’s own blighted childhood. Imagine how hard it must be to do any different if no one has ever read you a bed time story, or tucked you in to bed at night; if no one cared enough to keep you warm and well fed; if all you’ve ever witnessed is aggression, violence and hatred.
Fiadh and her mum will be able to come to Barnardos every day for as long as they need to and, with intensive emotional and practical support, they can start on the path to a better life. We’ll be able to give Fiadh a safe space to play, to learn and develop, to do all the things a three year old needs to do in order to thrive.
In our playground her little legs will begin to work properly as she climbs the steps to the slide. They’ll become even sturdier when she learns how to ride a bike. The hot nutritious meal she’ll get every day will help her grow up strong and healthy. She’ll know what space and freedom feels like as she skips and runs with her friends.
At the same time Fiadh’s mum will attend our parenting course, and this is where the real and long lasting change will occur. She’ll learn, for the first time, how best to look after Fiadh. She’ll learn the importance of good hygiene, of play and exercise, and of Fiadh’s need for routine. She will learn what it really means to make a child feel safe, secure, and loved.
There’s hope for Fiadh and her mum. With support,
Fiadh and her mother will find their feet and take their first steps towards a
brighter future. Fiadh will thrive under the love and care of her mother.
And she, in turn, will one day know what it means to properly care for her own
Fiadh is one of thousands of children whose lives are defined by the circumstances of their childhood. Support from The Big Toddle for Barnardos sponsored by Toddlebox will ensure Fiadh, and many children like her, take their first steps towards a normal and happy childhood, and allow them to thrive, well in to their adult lives.
Register online today or call our Toddle Team on 1850 222 300 and help us to continue these vital services.