A SUPPORT group formed to help families with special needs children is appealing for help.

Helping Special Friends, formally known as Crook and District Parent Carers Support Group, has expanded and now needs more volunteers to raise money and deal with administration.

The organisation was formed in March 2003 by six mothers, who have disabled children.

Val Fairhurst, 41, from Crook, is mother of two autistic children.

She said: "Grandparents, husbands, friends don't always want to listen to the problems that a mother has with a special needs child.

"Our group will listen and provide support and information. By word of mouth, the group has expanded as mums want to come and talk to us to get help." The group has organised trips, workshops, discos, stress relief courses and charity nights to raise money to expand its services at Bankfoot Grove Community Centre.

Mrs Fairhurst said: "Wear Valley District Council was great giving us the premises, but we need somewhere of our own. We need more money to buy more specialised equipment and books that we can loan out to families and we need a business plan."

Lisa Bolam, 36, who has two autistic children, said: "Our group aims to give them a shoulder, to let them know they are not alone."

Anyone who wants to help can call Mrs Fairhurst on (01388) 767956.