Somerset Parent Carer Forum’s activities are carried out for the benefit of Parent Carers and families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Somerset. The work we do is focused in the following areas:
Enabling families to have a voice.
As members of the National Network of Parent Carer Forum’s we support the development of parent carer participation, a process in which parents work together with professionals to make improvements to local services. We act as a conduit for a wide variety of local professionals in their work with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
We organize consultations and information fairs where all parties can get together, get to know each other and get the help or facts they need. Of course, it’s not always possible to attend events or give your views in person, but you can still have your say by responding to our surveys, which are available online or by post.
Enabling families to support themselves
Parent Carers of children & young people with SEND often face many challenges including battling attitudes, poverty and isolation from their local communities. Everybody involved with our company is empathetic with the issues and challenges that parents and carers of children and young people with SEND are facing; they have been there, have faced those real life experiences.
Through our support groups, events and telephone line we support parents from our community in all aspects of caring and supporting a child or young person with SEND. Our website has information on local issues such as education, health and benefits and family life. Our social media platforms allow parents and carers to access up-to-date resources, support networks and events.
Enabling families to support each other
We organise local groups and workshops to bring parents carers together for practical and emotional support. Topics include welfare reform, challenging behaviour, managing relationships and transitions. We connect families going through similar experiences or whose child has the same condition or disability. We organise coffee mornings so parents can make new friends and socialise.
Forums and campaigning
Undertaking campaign activity is not consistent with the ethos of Parent Carer Forums who exist to co-produce with service providers, commissioners and policy makers. Parent Carer Forums strive to have a seat at the decision-making tables and influence in this way.
Since February 2016, there have been limitations placed on the use of funds from government contracts for campaign activity. These have been written into each government contract, including that between the DfE and Parent Carer Forums.
This do not stop Parent Carer Forums supporting campaign activity when it aligns with their objectives – it simply prevents them from actively campaigning themselves. By working together, Parent Carer Forums and campaign groups can complement each other’s activities. Find out more here.
There is a lot of confusion about what a forum does or does not do. Somerset Parent carer Forum have put together a myth buster infographic to answer some of the most common things we are a forum get asked.