sibsA new website that provides information, advice and support to younger siblings of disabled children has been launched by Sibs, a charity for siblings of disabled people.

The website, www.youngsibs.org.uk, offers a range of information on disability and illness ranging from autism to cerebral palsy and Prader-Willi syndrome. With tips for coping with difficult situations and family life, the online service also celebrates the positive qualities that being a sibling can engender such as patience, tolerance, understanding and loyalty.

It also has a letters section for siblings to receive personalised responses to their questions as well as a safe online chat area for young siblings to talk to each other, which is moderated by Sibs’ staff. 

Siblings’ needs overlooked
In the UK, there are more than 500,000 children and young people who are growing up with a brother or sister who is disabled or has a life-long serious illness. But the charity suggests that too often many of these children are either not identified as siblings or have their needs overlooked leading to isolation and difficulties reaching their potential.

Monica McCaffrey, chief executive of Sibs, said: “Young siblings need access to information, support and help with the challenges they face every day growing up in a family with a disabled brother or sister. YoungSibs will help many young siblings feel they are not alone.

“Our work has shown us that young siblings of disabled children have more worries and responsibilities than children of the same age. They often have to take a back seat in families where the main focus is on the care and support of the disabled child.

“We have listened to young siblings and their families and acknowledged their unique experiences and needs. YoungSibs aims to provide young siblings with support when they need it and ways to safely connect with other children who are going through similar experiences. Ultimately we hope it will provide young siblings with ways to cope better and help improve young siblings’ wellbeing.”