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So Rewarding Caring for Young Henry at Chailey Heritage

Working with children and young people who have complex disabilities can be incredibly challenging.  It can also be hugely rewarding for people like Kim Smith, a Support Worker for young Henry at Chailey Heritage.
Henry is 13 and has complex disabilities, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, and a visual impairment. He has been coming to school at Chailey Heritage Foundation for nine years and two years ago moved in full-time in one of the Foundation’s on-site children’s homes.  Now fully settled, Kim says Henry ‘looks happy and is incredibly smiley and engaging.’
The charity is holding a Careers Event at its HQ in Mid Sussex on Saturday July 13, where you can find out about the rewarding work that people like Kim do.  Everyone is welcome to Chailey Heritage between 10am and noon to come have a chat and see the different careers on offer at the charity.
Chailey Heritage – School & Residential Shoot. Photography by Paul Demuth, Demuth Photography 2023
Kim said: “Henry’s story is one of great personal courage, and it has been a privilege for me to play a part in that. From a career perspective, it is a joyful experience to work with people like Henry, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone thinking of working in this industry. I absolutely love my job.”
When Henry was born, he had to undergo many operations and brain surgery.  Mum, Caroline Cummins, said: “Life felt like a complete whirlwind, with appointments every day, adapting the house to accommodate Henry’s many complex health needs, and it was getting more challenging to meet all of Henry’s needs at home. Henry loves to be active, independent and move around freely and life is now so very different with support from a devoted team.”
Promoting independence and choice is an ambition Chailey Heritage Foundation has for every young person and appeals to Henry’s personality.
Each day Henry gets to choose what he wears, what he eats for breakfast, activities for that day, and the games he wants to play.
Kim said that with a lot of support and encouragement from his support team, Henry is making great progress, and his confidence is increasing too.
“Initially he wasn’t keen to visit Patchwork Farm, the on-site therapeutic care farm, so our colleagues on the farm brought the animals to the classroom instead. But with time, Henry has found the courage to visit the farm and enjoys driving his wheelchair around the pathways and particularly loves visiting the pigs! He loves being outdoors, so the farm is a wonderful chance for him to connect with nature and animals.  Although he is still not keen on being in large groups, Henry is happy to try new situations and has started attending after-school sessions with his friends in the Dream Centre, which is an immersive, interactive, creative space.  We feel we have won Henry’s family’s trust, knowing that Henry is in safe hands and receiving the best support and care.”
Caroline echoes this, saying that seeing Henry so happy and safe has given her family the confidence to start doing the ‘normal’ things other families enjoy.
“Now we are living life again, whereas before we were just existing. It felt like we were living on eggshells the whole time, but now we have time to breathe, we have a social life, and seeing Henry so settled and happy means we can enjoy spending quality time with him too. All the staff at Chailey Heritage are amazing and we feel so blessed that he’s able to be there and live his life to the full too.”
If you would also like to make a difference to the lives of young people like Henry, pop over to Chailey Heritage Foundation on Saturday 13th July between 10am and noon and learn more about the amazing careers on offer at the charity. https://www.chf.org.uk/join-us.html
Chailey Heritage Foundation is a charity providing education, care and transition services to children and young adults with complex physical disabilities. Their mission is to give disabled children and young adults every opportunity to pursue their fullest potential