Our parents and carers forum, Family Voice Calderdale, is independent from the services arm of Unique Ways, facilitating two–way communication between parent carers and providers of services used by disabled children, young people and their families in Calderdale. The forum’s steering group is run by two volunteer co-chairs.
I am a parent rep and co-chair for Family Voice Calderdale, the parent and carer forum in Calderdale. As a parent, I have experience parenting and caring for a child with additional needs, and I also wanted to recognise the support I have received over the years Unique Ways and other organisations, which I have greatly appreciated.
Being involved provides me with an opportunity to contribute to something that aspires to improve the support given to people with additional needs, and their families. In my little spare time, I enjoy socialising with family and friends, walking, and going to Pilates with friends.
My youngest son, now grown up, has autism and learning difficulties. Bringing him up and educating him at home brought me into contact with the Local Authority and services in ways that were problematic for all of us. Eventually, we all found a way of working together that gave my boy the support he needed.
Since he left home, I have gained an MA in Disability Studies and Special Education from the University of Leeds. In my role as co-chair of Family Voice Calderdale, I am committed to strengthening the voice of parents of disabled children and young people so that the system works better for them than it did for us. This means setting up engagement events where parents can say what they have to say, and then finding ways of using this in designing how services work for families.