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19.1.24 Resignation letter
The Sutton Parent Carer Forum Steering Group are giving notice that from 31st March 2024 we will not be renewing our Parent Carer Participation Grant contract with LBS. We also give notice that all the members of the Steering Group will be leaving at this date and that the current Forum will be formally dissolved.
Since 2016 we have gradually become disillusioned with the lack of genuine co production and trust between the SPCF and the local area and we feel that we are no longer making a positive, effective difference for Sutton SEND families. We have worked hard to engage independently and productively with pan disability SEND families in Sutton, but this is becoming increasingly difficult in a climate where the extent of the lack of parental trust is not acknowledged or understood by the local area’s senior management.
Parent Carer Forums are recognised by the Department for Education, Ofsted and CQC as the “go to” local source of independent information on the parent carer experience to ensure services meet the needs of our SEND families. The role of the parent carers on the Steering Group is to lead this work and listen to the views and experiences of other parents in Sutton to make sure they know what is important to them and to feed this back to the local area. Since 2002 the Forum has been viewed as a valuable, independent resource but recently the relationship has shifted and trying to maintain our independence has become too challenging.
We would like to highlight that since 2013 we have brought in £400,000 additional direct funding into the borough from various charities, some of which allowed us to provide much needed peer support. Our funding from Trust for London helped to facilitate support for many struggling families that we would not have been able to do through the parent carer participation funding. This has allowed us to help parent carers apply for DLA, PIP and other funding opportunities which brought in a further £1,000,000 directly to the Borough’s SEND families and economy.
A few recent achievements include the Parks and Playgrounds engagement resulting in local funding for exclusive playgrounds for Tweeddale and the Grange which will be ready for Easter, a BSL course to empower parent carers to be able to confidently communicate with the Deaf community, a wide range of training workshops, producing the Sunflower Lanyard awareness film which has been shared nationwide, our ‘What Bothers You’ mini surveys and of course Play and Stay where families tell us it helps them to realise they are ‘not the only one’.
As a Steering Group, representing the wider Parent Carer Forum, we all used to find the role fulfilling and productive, but we have not felt valued or respected for some time and this has had a negative impact, both on the Group as a whole, but also, on individual members who feel so upset that they no longer feel able to attend meetings; this has now reached a point where we do not feel we can continue.
When we all joined the PCF Steering Group, there was a very different working relationship in Sutton based on mutual trust and respect and the understanding of the benefit of effective parent carer participation; we quote below from previous local area senior management in 2015: ‘I really have enjoyed working with the Parents Forum in all its different incarnations over the years. As far as I am concerned, having a well run Parents Forum to deal with made my job easier and more rewarding; what you do and achieve are quite special.’
We are all saddened that this is no longer the case and that we will not be the representatives of the Sutton PCF after 31.3.24.
Carole Cook – founding member from 2002.
Rosemary Stuart – Welfare lead
Linda Morbin – Social Media lead
Laura Nicot – Treasurer
Jane Knowles – Chair
Jane Green - Secretary
19.1.24 Parks and playgrounds update
We are pleased to update that the exclusive playground at Tweeddale will be ready for SEND families to use by the Easter holidays. Here is a drawing of the new layout as designed by parent carers from our survey, Focus Groups and trial day.
What is a Parent Carer Forum?
A Parent Carer Forum is a group of parents and carers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). They are recognised by the Department for Education, OfSted and CQC as the “go to” local source of independent information on the parent carer experience. In England there are Parent Carer Forums in almost all local authority areas including the London Borough of Sutton where the Forum has been established for nearly 20 years. Sutton Parent Carer Forum is a member of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF)to ensure that our voices are heard at a local, regional and national level. Forums have a Steering Group of parent carers who lead this work and listen to the views and experiences of other parents in the local area to make sure they know what is important to them; they are keen to hear from as many parent carers as possible and are all pan disability groups.
About the Sutton Parent Carer Forum (SPCF)
This is run by the Steering Group who are all parent/carers themselves of children and young people with SEND who live in Sutton. We are passionate about, and committed to, improving services including health, leisure, social care and education for children and young people with SEND. We do this by arranging events, focus groups, workshops and surgeries as well as by conducting surveys and meeting with parents and carers on individual issues. Sutton Parent Carer Forum do not have a joining system as such, all parent carers of children and young people with additional needs are welcome to engage in all events and feedback their views and experiences. We work actively with other stakeholders including Sutton Mencap, Playwise and local support groups. The Steering Group promote all events and workshops via social media and partner organisations to try to reach as many parent/carers as possible. We have seats on the local area decision making Boards across health, education and social care to ensure we are able to represent the families we have engaged with to highlight where local services, processes and commissioners are working well, or challenge when changes or improvements need to be made.
The Boards we attend include the CAMHS Partnership Board, Safeguarding Board and Sutton Continuous Improvement Programme Board.
We work with the local area to arrange exclusive disability sessions including in local leisure centres and we run Play and Stay in the school holidays.
The Steering Group members are always happy to provide support to other parent/carers.