There are around 13.3 million disabled people in the UK. That’s one in five people. Many people suffering from complex disabilities need extensive care and find it difficult to communicate. This can often impact their lives in a negative way, making them isolated, left out and hindering them from reaching their full potential, but the charity Sense intends to change that.

Founded in 1955 by two mothers whose children were born deafblind, Sense has a clear goal: To remove communication barriers for people living with complex disabilities so that they, like everyone else, have the opportunity to live their life to the fullest.

Sense began as a charity supporting those who were deafblind in the UK, but now it has over 2,500 workers who provide services to people with complex disabilities all over the world. The services provided by Sense range from care at home to therapy to activity centres and are all offered as part of the social care system. Sense is contracted by the council to provide care for those with disabilities, however the process of obtaining care is far from easy.

As Mythily Katsaris, a member of the board of trustees for the charity, put it, ‘the social care sector is in upheaval.’ Many people would not be surprised if told that there are not nearly enough carers to provide adequate support to all the people who need it and, with recent budget cuts making it even more difficult for councils to provide enough services where they are needed, this problem is unlikely to be solved anytime soon.

1.7 million disabled people in the UK are supported by friends or family and the majority have no plans for a future where this care is no longer available. Moreover, only one third of local authorities are unaware of how many disabled adults in their area are being cared for by their friends and family.

The lack of substantial care does not only impact the person who does not receive it, but also their family. More than 50% of carers have been treated for mental health issues, including depression and anxiety and have been forced to give up a paid job in order to care for their loved one. The lack of support leads to a break down in relationships, making it even more difficult for a person with complex disabilities to communicate and improve their standard of life.

Even with the right care and support, the process to becoming independent is tremendously difficult. “It takes 7 years from identification to achieve communication, feeling safe and self-care. The next step is education and then training for jobs, so the individual can become financially independent,” stated Mrs Katsaris, who is a lawyer by profession, as she described the great impact Sense’s work has. “We want to have all deaf and blind people assimilated and integrated into society and to be a productive member of a family,” she said.

The impact of the work done by Sense to enhance the lives of those with complex disabilities can be felt by many, and no matter how large the problem they face, they have vowed to put in all the resources it may take to create a brighter future for those suffering with complex disabilities. Indeed, they have already launched several campaigns to change laws and government policies and will continue to do so.

When asked about the benefits she has found in helping Sense, Mrs Katsaris, having experienced first-hand the positive impact that can be made, said, “It keeps me grounded. It reminds me to be grateful for what I have and I remind my kids the same thing.” Having worked with a few other charities, she profusely encourages people to get involved.

Many non-disabled people believe that they do not have anything in common with a disabled person and agree that this has stopped them from approaching them as they may do with anyone else. Of course, charities like Sense will continue to work to better the lives of those who are disabled, but it is also up to everyone else. You can donate, volunteer and help out the charities, but most importantly, treating a disabled person in the same way you would treat anyone else can have benefits you never even expected.