After years of supporting her daughter through her many diagnoses, single mum Nikki Haffenden wants to provide the support and care to families of disabled children that she has missed out on. She said: “I decided that it was time to start making a social change.”
Disabled children in Croydon will benefit from her new company which will provide specialised care and promote the social lives of children and families with additional needs from the end of March.
Bizz-e-Kidz will offer support including after-school and out-of-school care, alternative respite, advocacy, speech and language and tutoring services at their centre in Thornton Heath and trips away for children with disabilities and their families.
Many organisations in Croydon aimed at disabled children only provide signposting support and advice. Bizz-e-Kidz will “actively promote the advancement of social lives for children that have additional needs” and hold regular opening hours for convenient access for families.
Director and single mum, Nikki Haffenden, 31, from Norbury, wants to provide somewhere where disabled children can go and be more social.
She said: “A lot of these children don’t have any social lives whatsoever and that’s really hard to see. Bizz-e-Kidz will be a space for disabled children to socialise and get all the support they and their families need.”
Already providing advocacy and advice services to families, Haffenden is open to any and all requests for support from families which will be managed by her expanding team. “I want to help families access the resources they’re entitled to and do everything I can to help make their lives a little easier,” she said.
Haffenden, an ex-pupil of what is now Harris Academy Upper Norwood, says Bizz-e-Kidz will start providing after-school and out-of-school care services in late March and hopes to promote educational and social welfare among all children.
Inspired by her 11-year-old disabled daughter, Haffenden understands the difficulties parents face when trying to arrange their children’s specialist care. She said: “Holiday clubs offering four hours, two days a week for one week of whole six-week summer holiday just isn’t enough…parents need somewhere where their children can go, be well looked after and have fun like any mainstream child can. At the moment, that’s just not there and that’s what I want to provide with Bizz-e-Kidz.”
Haffenden hopes to use her life experience to provide a service that will improve the lives of children with disabilities. “I’ve worked in out-of-school care, as an outreach worker with vulnerable young people…and even as a prison officer. Having all these experiences and raising my daughter has really opened my eyes to what is needed is our communities.”
Haffenden has had first-hand experience of the difficulties of raising a child with disabilities and explains that working full-time and being a single mum can make it harder. She said: “It’s been quite a journey. I was a young mum, having my daughter at 19, but we’ve been able to grow together and it’s enabled me to be so much wiser now than I would have been had I not had my daughter.”
Bizz-e-Kidz will be opening at 304-306 Bensham Lane, Thornton Heath.