If you have a family member with an additional need, finding local support groups in a rural area can be difficult. But for families in the South West, there’s a thriving group which can help. Jenna Richardson, AFF south west co-ordinator, has been along to see what they offer…

The Jigsaw group at Bovington offers support to anyone who cares for a child with an additional need – whether that’s physical, medical, emotional or cognitive. The group meets weekly in the welfare centre and is run by army spouse Katy. 

“When I first moved to the area, I was introduced to the Jigsaw group. They made me feel welcome and supported and the ladies shared their own experiences with me,” said Katy.  

Jenna agreed: “There’s a real sense of friendship at Jigsaw whenever I visit. I always feel so welcome.

“Some of the families attending face very difficult day-to-day challenges, but it always strikes me that you can be sure of lots of laughter and a lovely welcome.” 

Another lady who regularly attends said: “It’s nice to have somewhere to talk about difficulties and get information about accessing local services. 

“We don’t just sit around discussing additional needs – we have a good chat about life in general.

“I’ve had some great Netflix recommendations and they make some great cakes too!” 

As well as meeting weekly, Jigsaw has an active Facebook group, where members can find support at any time.

“Looking after a child with additional needs is a 24/7 job – and our support for each other is the same,” explained Katy.

To find out more, search Facebook for ‘Jigsaw, helping each other through puzzling times’

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