Representing what matters to families in the Wokingham
“We are the independent voice of families, representing their experiences with the aim to improve lives.”
We are the Parent Carer Forum for Wokingham Borough. A Parent Carer Forums is a group of Parent Carers of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). They work with local authorities, education settings, health and social care providers to make sure that the planning and provision of services for families takes full account of parent carer views and experiences, so that those services can be effective, timely and the best use of resources.
Almost all local authority areas in England have a parent carer forum – over 150 in all, funded by a grant from the Department for Education, working independently to improve the lives of children and young people with SEND and their families. Together we make up the National Network of Parent Carer Forums ( www.nnpcf.org.uk), which means that we are able to ensure that the voices of parent carers in Wokingham reach decision-makers in national government.
Who We Are
- We are all parent carers of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
- We know how stressful and isolating advocating for our individual children can be.
- We believe that our members are experts by experience and are best placed to help improve the experiences of families like ours when using education, health and social care services.
- We believe that every new member increases our ability to make life better for our families.
How We Work Together
"What matters to you, matters to us"
SEND Voices Wokingham is a member of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, which brings together the collective voice of families like ours from across England. Our Forum is run by a small, independent group of volunteer parent carers who share the same vision, that with the right care, support and encouragement our sons and daughters can achieve their full potential and have positive life outcomes. We believe that all families should have the same access to information about the services, opportunities and experiences that are available in the Wokingham Borough.
Meet the Committee and Staff
The SEND Voices Wokingham committee is a voluntary group of parents of children and young people with SEND who all live in the Wokingham Borough.
Sarah Clarke - Chair
I'm a mother of two with one of my children having a variety of SEN needs. The reason why I joined SEND Voices was to help improve the lives of those families who struggle with SEN. So many of us share the same common story of struggling to obtain the support our youngpeople need. My aim is to improve those experiences for our families.
Helen Corbett – Vice Chair
Hi, my name is Helen Corbett and I live in Shinfield with my husband and 3 boys. Two of my children have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and I am very familiar with the struggles parents go through to get support for their children, whether that be in their educational setting(SEN Support, EHCP, Transport etc), assessments via services such as CAMHS, support through Social Care and so on. I am passionate about helping improve the services in our local area and doing what I can to help families access the right support. I joined the committee in March 2017 with a particular interest in the council's changes to the Short Breaks service and have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the team.It's so nice to be part of a team who are working together to help improve services for our children and families.
Judith Newman – Treasurer
I am the mother of 3 young people who between them have diagnoses of ASD, dyslexia, anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
I have been a member of the steering committee for SEND Voices (originally known as REACH Wokingham) since the forum was formed and worked hard to get our parents' voices heard when the SEND Reforms were being implemented.
Having had many struggles to get the right support in place for my children my aim is to use the knowledge I have gathered to influence improvements, so others don't have the same difficulties.
Aleca Rzysko - Secretary
I'm mum to 4 SEN children with various complex needs. There have been so many frustrating experiences with services over the years, which left me feeling powerless. This is where I found SEND voices Wokingham and discovered the amazing work that's being done behind the scenes to improve the lives of families like mine. It's so important that our voices are heard and that together we can instigate positive changes. I'm very honoured to be a committee member of this very inspirational team.
Jacky Mackenzie - Committee Member
I found that most of the support and information locally was geared towards ASD as this is the conditions the majority of SEND children in this area have. However, I think it is important to have representation from as many different areas of SEND as possible. As a Mum to a child with Down Syndrome I feel I can be part of that wider representation.
I have joined the committee so that I can share information and my family's experiences.
Emma McKeever - Committee Member
My name is Emma, I have 3 children, two of which are now teenagers. Both my boys have SEND.
I am a peadiatric nurse by profession and specialise in children with disabilities and complex health needs. I am currently not working due to caring for my youngest son.
Throughout the years I have worked with or used Educational Services, Social CAre, Health Services and the voluntary sector with both my Mum and Nurse hat on and stronglr believe that they way to improve the services in the local area is to include the families and children who use them and to work with them when shaping and developing new services.
Kathy Rzysko - Committee Member
I am a mother to three grown children and a grandmother to seven. I have spent my whole working life teaching children, first as a ballet teacher and then as a primary school teacher. Retired now, I still tutor one to one and volunteer two afternoons each week to teach children to read.
Martin Jones - Finance Manager
Terri Walsh – Participation Coordinator
I joined SEND Voices Wokingham at the end of 2014 to support the committee in all aspects of the work that the forum is involved with. I organise our events and training, send out information to parents,partner organisations and liaise with the Council and Health Service. My role also involves co-coordinating consultations, surveys and the keeping the website and social media up to date.
I have 3 children who have a collection of diagnoses including Asperger's Syndrome, dyslexia, phobias & anxiety and hyper-mobility syndrome. I hope to be able to help improve the lives of families in our area.
Our representatives give a voice to families like ours by working in partnership with education, health, social care and other service providers to make sure the services they commission, plan and deliver meet the needs of disabled children, young people and their families. They work in co-production with the Local Authority, Health, Education and Social Care planners and providers;
· to voice the views of parent carers and families at meetings
· to improve provision and develop strategy
· to develop opportunities for positive change
· to produce relevant information for families
How are we funded?
SEND Voices Wokingham is funded through grants from the Department for Education and we are supported by Contact (for families with disabled children) www.contact.org
Get Your Voice Heard - Membership is FREE
As a member of SEND Voices Wokingham we offer you the following:
REPRESENTATION: The most important aspect of what we do is to ensure that your views are collected and shared anonymously with key representatives in health, education and social care in the Wokingham Borough, to help improve services now and shape provision in the future. So letting us know what your experiences are, good or bad, will help influence future services.
SUPPORT & TRAINING: We support and deliver training to parents to enable them to work better with professionals who provide services for their children and young people. SEND Voices Wokingham have run IPSEA training and information events such as the annual Local Offer Live Day.
INFORMATION: We provide our members with up to date information about relevant local and national services helping you have every opportunity to participate in the decision making process. Well-informed parents are then better placed to give opinions on the services that really matter to their families.
Membership is FREE to parent carers living in the Wokingham Borough with a child or young person aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs or Disability. You will receive our newsletter and e-bulletins with updates on our work, events, consultations and relevant information that may affect you and your family.
Please email:firstname.lastname@example.org with the following; your name, address, disability & year of birth of your child and we will add you to our list. You will then be amongst the first to hear about events, training, information and consultations we are running.
The more members we have the stronger our voice when we talk to the Council, Health or Education about the issues that are affecting your family.