Being part of a parent carer forum that is well informed and able to support fellow parent carers is beneficial to families in many ways.
You will be able to: -
tell us your views about services e.g. health, education, social care, leisure etc
contribute to how services should be shaped
find out about changes that may affect you and your family
have access to lots of information to help support your family
meet other parents and carers of children with disabilities and Special Educational Needs (SEND)
be able to join our parents exclusive Facebook page
keep informed about coffee mornings, events, conferences, consultations.
Q: Who are Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum (LPCF)
We are an independent small charity run by volunteers made up of parent carers of children with disabilities and special educational needs (SEN).
Q: What type of support do you provide?
By joining our membership you can dip in and out of using our support whenever and however you wish.
This could be to obtain information on a wide array of subjects empowering you to have an informed choice; social events where feelings of isolation may be broken down – you are not alone; feel connected with other parent carers in the county and indirectly, across the nation; gain control in being able to influence local decisions and have a voice about services being provided for families; learn how to keep yourself well whilst juggling the demands of your family; feel valued as a contributor to the community. Parent carers choose what type of support suits them.
Q: Who else do we communicate with?
Our network is made up of parent carers, professionals and interested parties.
We communicate between parent carers and service providers and information sharing is vital for all parties to enable the best possible outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
We are known as the communication conduit between parent carers and service providers.
Q: Do you share my details with anyone else?
All our members remain completely confidential.
We have a strong reputation for complete confidentiality with our membership and service providers respect.
Q: How long can I stay a member?
Once a parent, always a parent, no matter how old your child becomes.
So, if you are a parent of a child or grown up with a special need or disability, then you can become a member.
As life throws up different experiences along your way, you can use our membership for support and information as you require.
Q: How do you influence the provision of services?
It is true that there is strength in numbers.
Many people have unique life experiences raising a child with special needs but in fact, people are often faced with similar experiences and yet it is only when these experiences are collated or when parents meet together and share information that they can break down the feelings of isolation and start to realise that there are common factors.
From time to time, the LPCF will put out a request to the membership to comment on certain areas of service where it has been identified that other parent carers may have identified as a barrier to services they need.
Through surveys, consultations and requests for feedback, the LPCF collates this information and publishes reports informed by the membership.
Service providers are presented with this information and their response is fed back to the members.
Historically, the most common difficulties raised by parents on our membership are issues related to education, social care and health respectively.
Q: How would you represent me?
We have specially trained our dedicated volunteers (who are also parent carers) to know how to represent our membership. Our forum takes in everyone’s views through the various mediums such as face to face meetings, emails and website comments.
These are then represented to service providers like Lincolnshire County Council and NHS Lincs. Collated views from parents on our membership make a very compelling voice and as we have an extensive number of families on our network, it is easy for us to find out what the general experience is for certain services and to influence commissioners accordingly.
In turn, commissioners can save valuable funds in targeting services appropriately reflecting the actual need rather than what they think families need, which can be two very different things.
This saves wasting taxpayers’ funds and provision is made to specifically help families.
Q: How do you help parents?
We provide lots of opportunities to find out information through various ways.
Here are some examples: -
We hold coffee mornings around Lincolnshire where parents and carers can relax in an informal setting and talk to other parents. We also inform parents of the work we are doing and any information relevant to their needs.
We organise Signposting & Information events and conferences, where parents are given the opportunity to speak to professionals about the issues that affect them.
We organise events on subjects specifically requested by parents wherever and whenever possible. At our events, we also provide lots of opportunities for parents to find out about other organisations who can help them.
Our website is regularly updated with useful information. The library is continually being added to with other organisation’s documents that are pertinent to our network as well as our own published reports that are informed by parent carers on our network.
We provide regular email bulletins providing parents, carers and professionals with current information relevant to their needs e.g. events, consultations, changes in legislation, etc.
We also continue to obtain your experiences through many avenues whether it is through email consultation, coffee mornings, website (through ‘Your say’ page), event feedback or otherwise. Our volunteer representatives have been able to collate your experiences and represent parents and their families at policy making meetings.
With parents’ opinions being voiced through our representatives at local, regional, and national levels, services have continued to be shaped in the way that would be most beneficial to families and in particular, your children with special needs. This saves money and is a more efficient way for service providers to operate, whatever the financial climate may be like, by targeting what is required and useful for families and avoiding wasteful or unwanted services.
Q: Can you give some specific examples of what you have represented parent carers on?
Since our group was founded in 2006, we have been able to influence service provision in many areas.
Here are some examples:
We have participated in the implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014 which has brought widespread reforms in the area of Special Educational Needs and Disability.
We hosted Home to School Transport consultations with parent carers and Lincolnshire County Council. A report was published detailing the feedback from parent carers and this was presented to the Home to School Transport Project Board.
LPCF were invited by the Local Authority to take part in the weekly panel that decides whether a child/ young person needs additional special educational provision to be set out in an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC). The weekly panel is known as the “Hub”.
We have completed national consultations and surveys reflecting our network’s experiences of how the new special educational needs reforms have been rolled out in the county.
We have been recognised Nationally for our work in Co-producing the Special Schools Strategy with the Local Authority and heads of Special Schools to ensure that families views are at the heart of the strategy.
Q: Can I just be a member rather than get actively involved?
Yes; most of our families join our membership to receive up to date information that may affect their families. However, some parents feel that they can contribute a little time to volunteer and help out with certain things such as leaflet drops in their local area or host coffee mornings.
Some volunteer to represent our membership of parent carers at strategic meetings. If you have an inclination and some capacity to help make a difference, then please contact us; we would like to hear from you.