Sunshine & Smiles began as a small, informal group of parents & carers who all had a baby or young child with Down syndrome and who all agreed that having a support network in Leeds would be a very good thing!
From a rainy picnics in the park, committee meetings in our kitchens, our first Christmas party at a local children centre to becoming a registered charity and seeing the joy of over 300 people at our last Christmas party are just some of the memorable milestones on our journey so far!
We are very proud of how Sunshine & Smiles has grown and developed over the last 10 years but we know that the more we grow the more diverse the needs of our families become and we want to hear your views about what works, what might need to be different and what you would like to see in the future.
We committed in 2019 to starting a wide consultation process and to invest some of the funds that the charity has been fortunate to generate over the last few years to help us undertake this piece of work. Due to the coronavirus pandemic we were not able to start this work in 2020 but have now reached a position where we can begin this process.
We are being supported to undertake this consultation by an independent community researcher & facilitator, Sue Hoey.
Underpinning this consultation is a desire to listen deeply and hear how Sunshine & Smiles can best serve the needs of its community as it develops over the next few years. This includes children & young people with Down syndrome, parents & carers, wider family members, those who work with them & wider stakeholders such as funders and colleagues in health & education, for example.
At present the broad outline & provisional timescales of the consultation process will be:
To identify a steering group who will plan & manage the different parts of the consultation process (July 2021)
To hold a community event with as many of our families who would like to attend to hear what is important to you about how Sunshine & Smiles develops over the next few years (September 2021)
To arrange interviews, focus groups & surveys with a range of people and on a range of topics to help us identify important priorities for the future (October & November 2021)
Analysis and feedback from the consultation process to outline key priorities (December 2021)
Decision making & strategic planning, by the Board of Trustees, to plan & deliver support & services in response to those priorities (Early 2022)
We are very much looking forward to working with as many people as possible on this consultation. We hope that we can all think and dream together about the future of Sunshine & Smiles; to help us plan for a future that means Sunshine & Smiles will be embedded into the fabric of Leeds for many more years to come.