Archive for Q&A

20 questions with Hayley Goleniowska

TodDowns Syndromeay we’re joined by Hayley Goleniowska, Hayley is a mum who is passionate about inclusion and changing the way the world views Down’s syndrome. Her youngest daughter has the condition, but she doesn’t let that define her. 

Hayley is also the author of I Love You, Natty. As a writer and speaker, Hayley works with medical professionals to improve the support that parents receive following a diagnosis, whether it be during pregnancy or after birth. She wishes to buy quality time for other parents on the same journey, by removing the fear that often surrounds the condition.

1. Who would this set of cards be suitable for?

These cards are intended for new parents whose baby has been diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and the professionals working with them. Portage workers, Health Visitors, neo-natal staff and GPs will find them an invaluable tool for understanding how parents feel post-diagnosis and to identify areas where families need more support.

2. Why were you so passionate about collaborating with Fink Cards on this project?

I struggled greatly in the early days following our daughter’s diagnosis. I was in complete shock, due to my own fear and ignorance of Down’s syndrome. There was so much negative language surrounding the condition during pregnancy, and the diagnosis was delivered in a very somber and sorry way. Everyone in our family had their own ideas about what Down’s syndrome meant. A set of cards just like this would have enabled us to talk more freely about our worries, and more importantly to see our precious new baby for the unique individual she is first and foremost, rather than a set of symptoms and predictions for her future.

3. Describe how this set of cards came to be?

Lisa Warner, creator of Fink Cards and I have been Twitter friends for a while. I have been a fan of her fabulous products, but never dreamed of writing a set for her. One day, while she was holidaying in Cornwall where we live, she asked if we could meet for coffee to discuss a possible project. I was so excited about the power of the cards to make a difference to new parents, to buy the time with their newborns, that I came home and wrote the questions, straight from the heart, in an evening. Lisa pulled out all the stops to create the cards in a few short weeks, in time for launch on World Down Syndrome Day #WDSD15.

4. How do you think a set of cards like these might have helped your own family?

We knew so very little about Down’s syndrome when our youngest daughter was born. Most of what we thought we knew was outdated and based in stereotype. We spent many hours researching the condition, often stumbling on outdated information that was depressing. The cards would have helped us sort fact from myth easily. Quite simply they would have helped us see our daughter for who she is and saved us a lot of anguish and heart ache. They are bright, cheery and user-friendly, as well as being portable.

5. How did you feel when your youngest daughter was born with Down’s syndrome?

We were fearful and ignorant about Down’s syndrome. We were given a diagnosis while our baby lay in an incubator on another hospital ward, and it that moment she became ‘Down’s syndrome personified’ a sum of all the glimpses into others’ lives that we had seem over the years. We were also terrified. Terrified of what the future held for us all, terrified of losing her and terrified of loving her in case that happened.

6. What do you hope to achieve with these cards?

We hope that by using the cards as conversation starters, parents will be able to talk more freely to other family members, siblings and medical professionals about their concerns, knowing that they are not alone in feeling a certain way.

They will be able to cut through the myths that surround Down’s syndrome more quickly and spend precious time getting to know their newborns. The questions are also intended to encourage parents to think about topics that might not initially occur to them, such as making time to look after themselves as well as those around them.

7. What were your motivations behind starting your blog Downs Side Up?

When out youngest daughter was born I was hungry for information. Charities are a font of factual information, but are often neutral in tone. I wanted to see what real family life was going to like for us, and so I began a simply blog with our stories, tips and information as well as masses of inspiring photographs to show the world that our daughter is more alike any other child than different.

Over the years the blog has changed, grown and evolved and is now a hub of support, a mouthpiece for those with Down’s syndrome, a voice of advocacy and a campaign tool for inclusion and better support.

8. Is having a child with Down’s syndrome what you thought it was going to be like?

I can honestly say that I was wrong on every single count. Every child is different of course, but every parent of a child with Down’s syndrome feels that they bring an extra dimension to their lives. Natty has enriched and enhanced our family and we wouldn’t change her for the world. There have been challenges along the way, worries about school, heart surgery and illness, but Natty lives life to the full, is bright and beautiful, incredibly funny and an absolute joy to be with.

9. What kind of support was available for your family?

There are many charities, most notably the Down’s Syndrome Association who provided informative leaflets and online support. There is a local support group too but as quite a private family I was always reluctant to go along to those meetings. Natty has always been one of the gang, just part of our community. Invaluable support came for me personally in the form of a wise Midwife, experienced Health Visitor and later the Portage Service.

10. If you could turn back time, what would you change about the day your youngest daughter was born?

I would like to relive that day with the knowledge I now have about Down’s syndrome. I would love to have know a child like Natty who would have removed the fear from those words that came from the consultants lips.

I would have felt differently I’m sure if the diagnosis had been given by the community midwife who delivered her at home, and having her in our arms, or at least touching her in her incubator, instead of on another ward would have made her feel more like our own daughter at that difficult time.

11. What extra dimension has parenting a child with additional needs brought to your family?

Natty has taught us to see the world differently, she has taught us to slow down and appreciate the small things in life. She has shown us that we cannot plan for everything in life, we cannot map out our course, but that we are the strong ones if we learn to bend like reeds in the winds of change. She has also opened up a world of friends for us as a family, for we connect with others in the same situation everywhere we go.

12. How do you think a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome should be delivered to parents?

It is vital that the baby should be present when a diagnosis is given, and parents should be together if possible. They don’t want too much information, instead it is vital to allow them time and space to process but also to give them open access to return with questions at any time.

Later leaflets and books can be given to parents, and they might sppreciate being able to talk to other parents in the same situations, but every family will feel different and this should not be pushed.

13. Do you think having a sister with Down’s syndrome has had an impact on your eldest daughter Mia?

In the early days I worried that Mia would suffer. I couldn’t have been more wrong as she has turned out to be a very thoughtful and caring young woman with an acute sense of right and wrong. That’s not to say that having a sibling with additional needs doesn’t sometimes take some of the attention away from her, so we try to make time to spend time alone with her and to do more grown up activities that she enjoys.

14. Tell us about Mia’s book I Love You Natty: A Sibling’s Introduction to Down’s Syndrome?

When Natty was born I looked for a book to read with Mia to explain why her sister would need a little extra support throughout her life. Most of the books on the market were in American English or rather outdated.

One day, several years later, we found a poem from Mia to her little sister, saying how much she loved her and that her world wouldn’t be the same without her in it. I knew instantly this would be the basis for the book we had ourselves sought.

The book explains Down’s syndrome simply and is accompanied by Mia’s own drawings and our family photos. It is a visual feast and is adored by adults and children alike.

15. You describe your family as ‘just like any other’. In what way?

Our children enjoy horse-riding and swimming, making pancakes and going to the beach. They love each other and they squabble about who is going to hold the popcorn on movie night. We have the same goals for our girls and enjoy the same activities as everyone else.

16. Natty is one of the UK’s first models with a disability. Why do you think this is so important?

We all need to see ourselves represented in the media and in advertising. Moreoever, it’s vital for the world to see beauty in all its forms and to realise that children with Down’s syndrome love dressing up in funky clothes just as much as the next child.

The modeling might seem like a superficial activity, but many new parents write to say just how much comfort they got from seeing Natty in adverts, because it gave them a sense of just what is possible for their child.

17. What have been Natty’s most exciting modelling jobs to date?

Natty has featured in a tourist attraction video, a holiday company website, the Jojo Maman Bebe and Frugi clothing catalogues and most excitingly she was the first child with a disability to appear in a supermarket Back to School campaign with Sainsbury’s. She loves showing off, and for her the castings and photoshoots are like glorified play dates.

18. You work with medical professionals within the NHS. What are your goals?

To change how disgnosis is delivered and to remove the pressure on parents to terminate babies with Down’s syndrome. The rate currently stands at 92% of all babies who are diagnosed antenatally. This reflects a lack of unbiased support at point of diagnosis.

We also want equaly healthcare for individuals with Down’s syndrome throughout their lives, so work on medical passports and one page profiles is essential. It’s really about changing the way society views learning disability, and shouting out that having an LD does not make someone worth a little less than everyone else.

19. Do you think we have far to go before society becomes truly inclusive?

Sadly yes. Attitudes are entrenched that difference is to be feared and segregated. We are getting there slowly in many ways, but until we lose the fear of disability and difference we will never get rid of the idea that ‘eradicating’ disability is the gold standard light at the end of the tunnel.


Thank you so much Hayley! You can find more from Hayley on her website and Hayley’s Talking about Down’s Syndrome – Conversations for New Parents cards can be found in our shop here.

20 Questions with Laura Henry

Early Years TalkingToday we welcome Laura Henry, Laura is an expert international award-winning Early Childhood trainer and consultant. She is the founder and CEO of the community interest company for Early Childhood trainers and consultants, NEYTCO; vice-president of Early Education; and national representative for the World Forum in Early Care and Education.

For three decades Laura has used her skills to support those who work directly with children. She is a highly regarded and popular trainer and writer. She is passionate about quality in Early Childhood, making sure that children receive the best possible care and education to help them reach their full potential. Laura regularly contributes to education and parenting publications. Laura has been on the judging panel for Nursery World and Nursery Management Today awards. She has used her specialist knowledge to work with government departments as well as national and international organisations, forums and working parties.

  1. Why do you think Confident Talkers is important?

The Confident Talkers concept is important in supporting educators to use sustained shared thinking with children effectively. It contains open-ended questions that are framed to help educators develop meaningful communication and enhance children’s language skills.

  1. How can Confident Talkers cards be used?

They can be used anywhere with children: inside, outside or on the go. They are designed for spontaneous use.

  1. What are the main benefits of Confident Talkers?

Confident Talkers cards support children’s communication and language, aiding children to be confident and speak in front of their peers. They are an excellent resource to support children with English as an additional language as well as those who may have speech and language difficulties.

  1. Why have you partnered with the Fink brand?

I’ve partnered with Fink as I believe in their concept and their wide range of products. Fink is a family business and I value their integrity as a brand.

  1. Why do you think there is an increase in the number of children who have communication and language issues?

There have been a number of research studies as to why children’s language and communication skills can be poor. There are many factors, including the role of screen time and a lack of outdoor play, as examples. Read what this government research project has to say on the subject:

  1. How will parents use Confident Talkers to support their child?

Parents can use Confident Talkers at any time as a discussion point to have conversations with their child about their day. They can be used on the go, for instance on train and car journeys, or when having meals.

  1. Can a child use the cards independently?

Yes, older children can use the cards with and without the support of adults to ask their peers questions and to ask adults as well.

  1. How does Confident Talkers support children’s communication and language development?

Confident Talkers uniquely supports children to talk for meaning and to elaborate their sentences, bearing in mind that there is a difference between how children communicate with each other and how they use their language skills.

  1. How does Confident Talkers support children’s social, personal and emotional development?

Children can have effective language skills and be developing in line with their developmental milestones, but lack confidence. With Confident Talkers adults can sensitively support children to speak in small and large groups. My favourite term is: ‘Nice and loud. Nice and proud.’

  1. How does Confident Talkers link to the other areas of learning and development?

Confident Talkers supports the other areas of learning100%:

Physical Development: Children using their bodies to communicate and recall their answers.

Literacy: children discussing marks that they have made and sharing stories they have read.

Mathematics: using mathematical language to problem solve; too much, too less, more than.

Understanding the World: explaining how ICT equipment may work.

Expressive Arts and Design: creating their own concepts and directing their own thoughts.

  1. How does Confident Talkers link to the Three Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning?

Children are able to reflect on the resources and materials that they have played with and explored. Children will have opportunities to contribute and make decisions that affect them. Children can be creative and think critically about their experiences.

  1. What age is Confident Talkers suitable for?

Although confident talkers can be used for children from two upwards, I would like to think that educators and parents can start from birth so that effective communication and language is embedded from the start.

  1. Can Confident Talkers help educators to be reflective?

Reflective practice is an important element of Early Years. Educators could carefully reflect on whether the cards are helping to strengthen children’s communication and language.

  1. How might senior educators in a setting use Confident Talkers to monitor their practice?

Senior educators could use targeted observations and audits, when educators are using Confident Talkers, to see if they are making a difference to children’s learning and development and how they complement teaching and learning. They can evaluate how educators are able to use sustained shared thinking at a higher level with children.

  1. Could Confident Talkers be used to support settings and educators to be self-evaluative?

Yes, educators could evaluate the impact of the use of Confident Talkers – which questions work well in certain situations and how they make a difference to teaching and learning.

  1. Can Confident Talkers be used anywhere?

Educators can use the cards anywhere and at any time: indoors and outdoors, at different times of the day, at lunch time, or if an educator wants to use them to explore children using block play.

  1. How can Confident Talkers support educators to support children?

As part of educators’ continuous professional development, use of Confident Talkers can demonstrate that the educator is using tools to enhance children’s communication and language.

  1. Does Confident Talkers currently link to any government incentives?

Settings could use their allocated funds from The Early Years Pupil Premium incentive to purchase Confident Talkers. The cards will indeed have a massive impact on children’s long-term developmental outcomes.

  1. What are the benefits of the key person approach?

In England it is a legal requirement that every child is assigned a key person. Educators could use the cards within their ‘key person time’ to develop a meaningful and positive relationship with their key children.

  1. Would educators need extra training to use Confident Talkers?

No extra training is needed as the cards are self-explanatory and the questions use plain English, making Confident Talkers a useful resource for educators across the world.


To find out more about Laura Henryand her Confident Talkers cards please visit

Taking a Break


Fink Cards Taking a Break

We’re taking a two week break with our social media chats, our twitter #finkchat & our Facebook Q&A.

We really enjoy doing our chat’s with our authors and even more so when other’s get involved, but we need a little break here at Fink Cards HQ and we’re very excited that when we come back we’ll be back on the 8th September on twitter with a #finkchat with Luke Jones on his release of his Healthy Habits cards.

We’re really looking forward to all the authors we have lined up in the next few months until Christmas and we’re already working on next years cards.

We can’t wait to share all the new release’s we have coming and we hope you can’t too!

Divorce Q&A

Fink Cards Divorce Q&A

Our Facebook Q&A this week was a divorce special with our experts, answering your questions and giving some really great responses.

We had a great mixture of personal questions and information based questions. If you’re going through a divorce and have any questions, please get in touch to let us know what they may be as our experts enjoy answering your questions.

Our next Divorce Q&A is in September, keep your eyes peeled for that one!


Q&A on Healthy Habits with Luke Jones

Fink Cards Q&A with Luke Jones

Healthy Habits launches 8th September and here at Fink we were delighted to chat with Luke about how this came about, who the cards are for, who inspires and motivates him and of course we talked about the cards!


Q&A with Sue Atkins & Chris Longbottom

Finkcards - Talking about divorce legal conversations (2)

On Facebook this week we were joined by Sue Atkins and Chris Longbottom for our Q&A about Talking About Divorce Legal Conversations, which is our newest pack of cards to help people navigate the choppy waters of dealing with divorce.

Sue and Chris answered questions about how they came up with the cards, who they’re for, how to use them and they discussed the cards that are in the pack.

Talking About Divorce Legal Conversations is a great pack to help prepare you to talk to your lawyer and Sue and Chris give some great tips in their Q&A.


Q&A with Sue Atkins on Divorce

Last night’s Facebook Q&A was with Sue Atkins.

Sue discussed divorce, with her divorce cards and answered some questions from the pack as well as answered some questions on Sue’s up and coming cards about Legal Conversations and Co-Parenting.

Divorce Q&A with our Experts


Our second divorce Q&A, had a few technical problems this month, Lisa was travelling back from the Reading Matters Conference & Sue Atkins was also travelling back from an event, which meant that only Nicola & Chris were able to participate this month, but it was still a great information filled Q&A on divorce.

Make sure you follow us along on Facebook to keep updated on these weekly Q&A’s we have, and make sure you keep your eyes peeled for our next divorce Q&A in August!

Q&A with Jane Evans Talking Parenting Impacted by Trauma

Our Q&A this week was with Jane Evans talking about her Parenting Impacted by Trauma cards that released last week!

We last spoke to Jane at the beginning of June about her cards, this time we discussed questions from the cards and Jane talked more about why she picked these questions, why they are important and what significance these questions can make to people’s lives.

Jane’s cards released 24th June and are available here.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.