The Team

 Alison Bland

 Malcolm R Osborne


 DIANE URUA. I meet and greet new families attending KAYAKS for the first time to also show them around. I also work closely with the children while at KAYAKS each week, often playing games with the children to help settle them into our group and chatting to parents/carers to also put them at ease, while giving out advice from personal experience. I help with all other duties such as setting up and putting away and help with events when needed and also help with our social events at KOPE and attend regular training sessions. I am a mother of four children my youngest is 19 years old, he has a connective tissue disorder called Marfans Syndrome. He has many of the health-related problems related to Marfans such as heart, height, eyes and hyper mobility. This is the reason we started to attend KAYAKS as members, so my son had somewhere he was safe and able to be himself without judgement. We have gained so much as members from the group and enjoyed every aspect that the natural way forward was to give back what we have gained by joining the committee to help others. We see KAYAKS as an extended part of our family and have never looked back.

 Martin Fisher. I am a grandfather of four girls one of which has additional needs which can be very demanding for my daughter on a daily basis. It is always a pleasure to be able to be of help or assist others as a KAYAKS member. Since joining kayaks about 6 years ago it has been rewarding to be part of the KAYAKS team and getting involved with the children and their families knowing that they find me approachable and helpful in all the activities that they do with me knowing that they are in a safe environment with others who have similar needs. KAYAKS is a very interesting group and offers different kinds of support on so many levels, and the families are very friendly. I like to build a rapport with the children to help them achieve their goals. I am qualified to support members on the climbing wall. If this was employment, I would definitely say it was job satisfaction. I have also gained an ITC certificate qualification in emergency indoor and outdoor first aid level 6.

Anne Yorston. Fundraiser. I have 3 children, all are diagnosed with Autism. Our family has recently grown as my eldest son is building his own family and now has 3 children. His partner has a spectrum diagnosis, and their daughter is currently undergoing a diagnosis. Along our journey we stumbled across KAYAKS who have not only supported our family but also offered a wealth of opportunities to us all. When the opportunity arose to pay back a small percentage of what we had gained I chose to join the committee and to volunteer each week in Kayak. I also work full time within the NHS Business Services Authority. Part of my role is working and leading in areas such as Equality and Diversity, Health and Wellbeing, Mental health first aid and Volunteering.

I look forward to working closely with both the KAYAKS team and the families moving forward. I have also gained an ITC certificate qualification in emergency indoor and outdoor first aid level 6.

Lauren Osborne, I am able to help others through my lived experience of being an autistic person. I help at the Saturday session and you’ll find me at KOPE for all the different workshops on offer. I am an illustrator and author, I help to deliver the Mayors Award and the Duke of Edinburgh by teaching painting and illustrating techniques.

Karen Nichol. My main role in the committee is running arts and crafts sessions on a Saturday afternoon. I have two sons aged 30 and 13 and a 4 yr old grandson, y 13 yr old has ASD, Dyspraxia and hypermobility. We have been members of kayaks for about 7-8 years now and we love our big kayak family.

 Susan Burgess. I have been attending KAYAKS with my family for the last five years, following my eldest son’s Autism diagnosis. We have enjoyed many fantastic opportunities provided from The KAYAKS in this time such as amazing outdoor residential trips, fun days out to lots of exciting places, great weekly social activity sessions, the most expert advice when needed and lots more. The non-judgemental, friendly and supportive ethos of The KAYAKS makes all of these times an absolute pleasure to be part of. Every membe is thoroughly valued and supported.

I have also been involved in fundraising for The KAYAKS too: taking part in the The Great North Run, Kielder, Rotterdam and London matharons plus many more races sometimes with my children to  help support the fabulous work that is already in place. I have joined the committee as I want to help other famliies in the exact same way my family has been supported. Being a Special Needs Teacher/leader for the past twelve years, I have a lot of knowledge that will support children, young people and their families if they need help from an educational perspective. I am passionate that everyone can achieve their potential, have fantastic opportunities and get the right support, regardless of the barriers that are in the way.