Firefighter Anton Awramenko and his family were supported by our Welfare Team after he revealed their struggle to include their youngest son, who has learning disabilities, in family activities.

Finding inclusive activities that interest the whole family can be difficult for anyone, but for Anton Awramenko, it’s even harder.

The firefighter, who works for Avon Fire and Rescue Service, has three sons – Archie, Harry and Charlie. Charlie, who is 12, has Down’s Syndrome and autism which can mean he often has a very short attention span and is unable to take part in a lot of family outings.

As this began to impact their day-to-day lives, Anton’s colleague finally recommended he speak to the Charity – and we were able to support him in getting a specially-made tricycle, so Charlie can safely take part in activities with his parents and siblings.

“We’re very lucky that Charlie’s got two older brothers that are very supportive of him,” says Anton. “They really look after him and love him very much. They try to include him in as many activities as they can, as we do as parents, but unfortunately there’s some activities that we can’t involve him with due to his abilities and his attention span.

“Sometimes that’s quite frustrating and upsetting for us as a family, where we want to do something as a group and be really inclusive, but there’s times we have to split up and Charlie can’t participate.

“A colleague suggested to me that we approach The Fire Fighters Charity, and until that suggestion was made I wouldn’t have considered it because, in my mind, I’d always thought of it as a Charity predominantly for injured firefighters.

“But it’s actually all about the firefighters’ families as well. The Charity’s helped out enormously and for that I’m extremely grateful.”

The Charity listened to Anton and what he needed, before supporting him in getting a trike specially made to suit Charlie’s needs – complete with handlebars for his siblings to walk either side of him, and equipment fitted so he can be towed behind his dad’s push bike if they’re somewhere he can’t cycle himself.

The Charity’s Welfare Caseworker, Jason, says: “Anton approached us back in March 2020 and I explained that there’s an application process. This was quite a complex and unique situation, based on the requirements of what Anton was asking…

“We had to find the right provider that could supply this specialised tricycle. The welfare team in the past has helped many beneficiaries, it’s not about the financial situation that the beneficiary’s in, it’s about how we can think outside the box – whether that’s helping them practically, or whether that’s offering them advice and signposting them to other providers that are able to help them.”

Seeing their younger brother smiling and laughing as he tried the trike out was a special moment for his two older brothers too.

“It’s going to support him a lot better. It means he’s included in a lot more of the activities we do. It opens up such a wide range of things we can now do as a family,” says his older brother Archie. “I think the trike’s really going to help him develop, he’s going to learn and see a lot of new things he hasn’t seen before.”

And his other brother, Harry, adds: “What I particularly like as well about the trike, for him being able to go out with us and be safe on the road, is that it’s got handlebars by the side and a big seat, so if he did fall asleep or suddenly decide that he wants to stop, he’ll still be alright because we’ll be able to still tow him along.”

For Anton, seeing how much the Charity helped him has inspired him to spread the word about how we can support families, as well as personnel.

“It’s really changed things incredibly,” he says.

If something is affecting your physical health, mental health or social wellbeing, let us help. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820 or make an enquiry online. Alternatively, you can access support faster than ever by registering for MyFFC here and visiting the ‘Access Support’ tab once registered.