AN inspirational Largs mum who has two children with special needs has won a prestigious national award for her work helping other parents.

Joanna McPhie is among a group of mothers who have been recognised for providing care and support during the Covid-19 pandemic by Parent Network Scotland.

Joanna has three children, two of whom have Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Matthew, 14, and John, 16.

She has fought for years to create a better environment for her children and recently moved into a new adapted home within the development at Jura Way on the old Largs Academy site.

The caring mum was recognised for her overcoming her own difficulties to help others who feel they have nowhere else left to turn by setting up a support group for struggling families.

She explained: "We help families that have been refused help or those who have issues finding suitable education for their children because of their issues.

"We have helped give people the confidence to fight for their children’s rights."

Joanna, who is originally from Skelmorlie, says she is delighted to have been recognised for her efforts.

She said: "Sometimes it is very difficult for parents who have been unable to get help. We, as a family, have come through a lot and I thankfully I have been able to point people in the right direction.

"The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service have huge waiting lists and even after diagnosis there is little support.

"We have been providing a place to talk to and chat and understand each family's situation. We find services to help in terms of access or self-directed support.

"Things have also been made a lot harder by the Covid-19 situation - and that is why what we do is so vital.

"When you give someone the right support, it is amazing what can happen sometimes.

"We got help from Ayrshire Children's Services and the Connect Centre in Ardrossan, which was instrumental in changing my son Matthew's life and mine.

"Every autistic person is different and what can work for some won’t work for all. That’s why we try and tailor the support we give to the family and individual."

Joanne was winner of the Parent to Parent award at the Parent Network Scotland ceremony, which was held online this year.

She said: "I'm so grateful for the award, it means so much to me. I just can't believe I got through to the final never mind won.

"Many years ago Parent Network Scotland started me on my journey and helped give me the confidence to do what I have. My group has come on leaps and bounds and I would like to thank everyone who has helped."