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A listening ear for parents caring for kids with disabilities

“I feel very isolated as the parent of a teenager with [a condition]. It was wonderful to speak to someone to whom I didn't have to explain it. It felt wonderful not to be judged.”

Early in the pandemic, UK-based nonprofit Contact started the Listening Ear program to give families including children with disabilities a personalized sounding board and a source of guidance accessible from home. Through hourlong phone sessions with trained advisers, family members were able to seek practical advice on situations like changes in a child’s behavior, get referrals to helpful resources, and have supportive conversation with an understanding listener.


Many of the people involved in providing the Listening Ear service are themselves caregivers.

A grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) helped Contact make the Listening Ear service available to more than 100 parents. Here’s more of what parents have said about the program:


“I'm not alone…. Gone from feeling overwhelmed to more forward looking…. It has made me feel more positive and able to carry on.… The advisor was lovely and made me feel safe and comfortable to express my feelings. I feel reinvigorated.”

“It gave myself and my partner more understanding of autism and the difference there needs to be in parenting a child with autistic traits. It gave us confidence to move forward in our journey to support our son.”

“Being listened to without judgement and with compassion was a powerful connection that I really needed right now as I am so isolated.”

“Noreen was absolutely amazing, she could relate and was able to offer advice, a comforting shoulder and a little humour to lighten the load too.”