*This post is for information purposes. I am a registered parent member of SNAP PCF and volunteered to write this post. I received no payment or any other compensation for this post.
On 4th March, SNAP PCF hosted their second Parent Carer Forum Conference. SNAP (Special Needs Action Panel) consists of parent carers who have children or young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
SNAP PCF are an independent Parent Carer Forum who work in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council and health care providers and are members of several strategic boards within Central Bedfordshire.
Opening of the Conference
Kirsty Green, Director and Participation Manager of SNAP PCF opened the day by welcoming parents, charities & organisations and representatives from Central Bedfordshire Council and the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Kirsty sits on the Central Bedfordshire strategic meetings to be a voice of parents and is heavily involved with moving things forward.
Kirsty highlighted the need to hear parents’ voices and to work together to ensure that health, education and social care services are more “fit for purpose”.
SNAP PCF have published their March 2018 – March 2019 Annual Report. Some of the areas that the report covers are the Central Bedfordshire SEND Vision, Local Offer, training for their members, joint outcomes training, short breaks and preparing for adulthood. Kirsty also mentioned that SNAP PCF are currently giving their members a free MAX Card, which offers discounts locally and nationally.
Kirsty and Central Bedfordshire Council identified the need for personalised services. Kirsty voiced that SNAP PCF will be running parenting training in conjunction with the SEND Team on annual reviews, SEN support in mainstream schools, Educational Health Care (EHC) needs assessments, personalisation workshops and making children’s EHC plans work, allowing parents to make more informed decisions.
SNAP PCF have held many parent panels including reviewing the education and care part of Central Bedfordshire’s Local Offer and reviewing how services within Central Bedfordshire, such as libraries, sports centres, youth clubs, parks, and community centres can be more inclusive for children and young people with SEND.
Sue Harrison, Director of Children’s Services in Central Bedfordshire brought attention to families wanting a more flexible approach, a more personalised approach.
Sue emphasised the importance for parents in having support from other parents and professionals, feeling part of a team and building a relationship so that the professionals get to know and understand both the child and the parents. Developing family activities, making sure that children have local provisions to socialise and offering flexibility in location and times for services. Making services more accessible.
Hayley Mason, Senior Solicitor and Director of SEN Legal was a guest speaker at the conference. Hayley gave her professional expertise on the EHC Needs Assessment, sections B, F and I of the EHC Plan, the SEN Appeal Process and Expert Witnesses, helping parents to understand their legal rights.
Another guest speaker of the event was Dean Beadle, who spoke personally on Autism and Anxiety, discussing that although meltdowns are discussed a lot in the media, some autistic people have shutdowns and mask their way through the day. He also highlighted the importance to focus on the joy of being autistic.
Mini Surgeries and Stall Holders
Parents could book a 15-minute appointment to speak to a senior officer of Central Bedfordshire Council or Central Bedfordshire Commissioning Group.
Many charities and organisations supported the SNAP PCF Conference by offering parents information on their services and by giving parents a broader outlook on what services Central Bedfordshire have to offer.
To see a list of all the charities and organisations that attended the conference, please refer to the SNAP PCF Annual Report (March 2018 – March 2019).
If you live in Central Bedfordshire and would like to find out more about SNAP PCF, please follow the link: