Your gratitude messages that blew us away after a nightmare year

Renata Blower & Tania Tirraoro are full of gratitude

This has not been the year any of us were expecting. For most, it's been an unrelenting nightmare, especially for those who have lost loved ones, lost livelihoods, or whose mental health has suffered. It is evident that families of children and adults with disabilities have suffered more than most. Will 2021 be better? We can only hope. But this post is aiming to offer a brief pause, to offer thanks to the people in our lives who have made it a little more bearable. And we're showcasing the thank yous you sent in for someone(s) who went above and beyond to help your family.

Your messages blew us away and brought tears to our eyes with how far some people went to help during this year. We have contacted five of you with the gift of a £20 Amazon UK Voucher for the person you've thanked, so check your inboxes in case it's you. If we don't hear back within seven days of sending, we will redraw, so check your spam box too!

If you missed the chance, you can still stay thanks publicly in our comments below.

Gratitude: Who or what are you grateful for?

Even if 2020 year has been the worst of your life, it may still help your mental health if you try to stop for a moment and think of one small thing to be grateful for: a beautiful smile from your child, a sunny day, the kindness of a friend, a Christmas card received. It's not at all hard to think of the bad things, and then more bad things to pile on top, because they are the things that worry us and are on our minds constantly, crowding out better thoughts.

We rarely add up all the good things. Some people keep a gratitude journal to help with this mindfulness exercise as a way of "allowing" ourselves to feel better. It's far easier to hang on to negative feelings than to help ourselves to recognise, and to feel, we deserve even a little bit of happiness. It has physical manifestations too. When we are gripped by chest-squeezing stress, taking a few, slow, deep breaths and releasing them slowly definitely helps. There are lots of meditation apps and spoken audio tracks for free that can help too.

Thank you, you're awesome

We'd like to kick off this section by saying thank you to our amazing contributors and volunteers from 2020, Matt Keer, Catriona Moore, Angela Kelly, Hayley Mason, Marguerite Haye, Steve Broach, Siena Castellon, Hannah Moloney, Jules Daulby, Jo Grace, Rob Webster, Jane Hood, Alice Irving, Lisa Thomas, Zoe Costello, Philip Millburn, and to the many guest writers who contributed a post this year. We couldn't do it without you.

Thank you to our wonderful SNJ Patrons, whose monthly donations enable us to create our podcasts and, early in the new year, will help us produce a SEND Law Roundtable, with leading legal names in the sector, to discuss issues and suggest ways forward.

And thank you to you for reading, following, sharing, commenting, participating in our Facebook group and telling us your thoughts. We appreciate every one of you.

And these people wanted to say a special thank you to someone who has helped their child through this year to forget... Click each image to enlarge (and I sneaked one in for Renata.. TT)

Download the blank one we've added at the end to use yourself to send to the person you're most grateful to - just download and open in any photo app that can add text to images.

Download and make your own!

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