Aims, history, strategy
Sibs is the only UK charity representing the needs of siblings of disabled people. There are over half a million young siblings and at least 1.7 million adults siblings in the UK, who have grown up with a disabled brother or sister.
Siblings have a lifelong need for information, they often experience social and emotional isolation, and have to cope with difficult situations. They also want to have positive relationships with their disabled brothers and sisters and to be able to choose the role they play in future care and support.
Sibs aims to enhance the lives of siblings by providing them with information and support, and by influencing service provision throughout the UK.
It believes that siblings have a right:
- To be valued for who they are and what they do
- To be seen as individuals with specific needs
- To access reliable sources of advice and information, and support services
- To influence the services and policies that affect them
- To reach their full potential
Every sibling in the UK who is growing up with or has grown up with a disabled brother or sister will have access to information and support about sibling issues.
Sibs current strategy
Sibs’ key areas of work currently are:
- To influence the identification and support of siblings in schools
- To get information about sibling support into the Local Offer of local authorities
- To provide direct support to young siblings through YoungSibs
- To educate parents and professionals on supporting siblings
- To increase self-identification by adult siblings
- To develop a UK wide network of adult sibling support groups
- To produce resources for adult siblings around managing care and support
Sibs was set up in 2001 by Monica McCaffrey, in response to demand from parents and professionals in the children’s sector for information on how to support siblings of disabled children. Monica had been running workshops for parents on supporting siblings when she worked for Contact a Family, and also as a freelance trainer, in the early 1990’s.
In 1998 Monica ran the first UK conference for sibling group leaders to promote the development of sibling groups for children. As the demand for support grew she realised there was a need for an organisation specifically for siblings, and together with a group of adult siblings set up the charity. Sibs received charitable status in 2002. Sibs was re-registered as a new charity in 2011 when it became a limited company.
Since 2001 Sibs has been running workshops and developing resources for parents, siblings and professionals on sibling issues. From 2002 to 2009 Sibs’ main focus was on the development of sibling groups for children across the UK, through training local professionals as sibling group leaders, and influencing service providers in local authorities to support siblings. Between 2006 and 2009 Sibs’ work led to a 50% increase in the number of sibling groups for children in the UK and increased awareness and skills in supporting siblings within the children’s sector.
Many of the groups and services for young siblings set up by local authorities during this period have since been cut or reduced due to recent spending cuts. As a result of this reduced local support, Sibs set up YoungSibs online service in 2012 to support young siblings directly and began focusing its efforts for young siblings on influencing schools to identify and support siblings.
Over the years Sibs has provided phone support to adult siblings particularly at times of crisis and since 2016 has been focusing on growing a network of local peer support groups for adult siblings of people with learning disability or autism and developing information guides on topics such as planning for the future.