Representing what matters to families in Wokingham Borough
“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, both 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 young people need. My aim is to improve those experiences for our families.
Sarah is also the SE19 National NNPCF Representative
Debbie Jacobs - Vice Chair
SEND Voices Wokingham has always been my source of support and information as my children grew up. They guided and directed me to the best information and I attended many helpful courses they hosted. I shared everything I learned with as many families as I could in my own personal and school community but I found myself wanting to know more about where all this great info came from and how to help more families. After finding out send voices Wokingham work extensively with WBC to coproduce many of the local SSEN offerings and guide them on the views and needs of local parents, I was delighted to be in a position to join the committee to continue the work to help guide and mould the future for all our SEN children. I now work with the committee to help families in our borough to the get the best support and services they deserve. I love working with the team who are all parents of children with varying special needs and as passionate as I am to get the best for all our children.
Jacky Mackenzie - Treasurer
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.
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.
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.
Judith Newman – Committee Member
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.
Lynn Boba - Committee Member
I am Mum to one child with a variety of diagnoses. Like many families, we've faced struggles along the way so I joined the committee as I wanted to be able to help others have an easier journey. I've found the coffee mornings, training sessions and AGM's really helpful and informative and hope others will too.
Terri Walsh – Participation Coordinator & Committee Member
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 ASD, dyslexia, phobias 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.