Meet Our Wonderful Team

Paula Jones

I work part time for a bank & have 2 children Lauren 19 (PDA/ASD/MLD) & Ewan 16 (studying A Levels at 6th form). Information, support & places to go were very limited when I started my autism journey. In 2012 I joined forces with Melanie & together we created Friends – Play for Disabled Children in the hope that we could help other families feel less isolated & have somewhere to turn to for support. We welcome new families to the group each week & are growing from strength to strength with the combined knowledge of group members. You will see me as Pink Lady at events regularly.

Melanie Battye

I work full time and have a daughter Saskia aged 14. Paula and I already knew each other before we formed the group in 2012.  At this time Saskia was known as a S.W.A.N (syndrome without a name). Finally a year later we received 2 diagnosis within 3 weeks of each other, ASD and Syngap1 (rare genetic condition we were number 16 in the world). Friends to me is a way of socialising with other families, building a supportive network, and sharing information to increase our strength and knowledge in relation to the obstacles/challenges that we face on a daily basis.

Emma Roberts

I am married to Mark and we have lived in St Helens for the last ten years. I work part time as a teacher and I have two children, Sophie aged 5 and Olivia aged 3. Sophie has NF1, Dorsal Stream Syndrome and is Autistic. I have a brother with Down Syndrome so have grown up working and playing alongside children with a variety of disabilities. I still don’t think it quite prepared me for being a parent of a child with additional needs. It can be very stressful and exhausting but also very rewarding. We have been coming to friends events for two years now and have become more involved over the last 12 months. Now that I work part time, I have more time to help out. I have an IT background and have been developing the website and the new registration and booking system to help streamline the paperwork involved. I very much look forward to meeting more of the families involved with friends and seeing you at our many events.

Tracey and Chris

Tracey and Chris Valentine-Smith

We have been married for 27 years. we have 4 children and 1 grandson. 2 of our children have additional needs, Down Syndrome & Autism. We used to foster and work with deprived children before we had our own & enjoyed every minute of it. Then we had our own family & yes it’s so different to looking after children that aren’t yours. We didn’t realise how hard it was to be a parent especially when you find out that one or more of your children have additional needs. So we decided to help other parents by running a fun club in Warrington for 8 years. We then decided it was time to do something different & that is when we heard about Paula & Mel’s group, Friends-Play for Disabled Children. We approached them and just said we are available if you need any help and that’s when we got our pink Tee shirts, Chris loves his haha. So that’s where we are today and we just love every minute of it.