Who We Are
THE WEST SUSSEX PARENT CARER FORUM
WE ARE AN INDEPENDENT parent carer led charity representing the views of our members in West Sussex. We work in partnership with the Local Authority, education, health, social care and other organisations to positively improve the planning and delivery of local services for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities and their families. We cover all disabilities.
The Forum is run by a friendly group of parents, most of us parent carer volunteers, who share the same vision that every child, regardless of ability, matters. We believe that everyone should have the same access to information about the services, opportunities and experiences that are available in West Sussex. As parent carers, we understand the issues around being a parent carer.
There is a national network of over 150 parent carer forums, sharing information and learning, covering all local authority areas in England.
WHAT WE OFFER MEMBERS
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.
REPRESENTATION: we ensure that your views are collected and shared with key representatives in health, education and social care in West Sussex.
PROVISION OF 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.
Meet Our Management Team & Staff
Carrie Phillips – Chair
I’M A MEMBER OF the Management Team, Trustee and currently in my second term as Chair. My son Harry was diagnosed with Asperger’s, ADD and Dyspraxia at the age of 7; the next few years were spent preparing for a tribunal – an experience which despite our success was incredibly hard and traumatic for everyone involved. We provide support, information and/or training to empower parent carers to be the best advocates they can be for their children and for others in the County; I want Parent Carers and the Local Authority to work together to make experiences like ours a thing of the past. Working full-time in the private sector, I also bring my corporate skills to the Management Committee and am proud to lead a dedicated and passionate team.
I’M A PARENT CARER and was a member of the Forum, when an information event about the changes to the law for children in education, ignited my interest. My childhood experience of segregation and exclusion in both South Africa and Northern Ireland has formed my strong feelings about equality. The Forum’s work is about making a positive change for those with special educational needs and/or disabilities within the county, and I have been busy since that information event! My life as a research scientist was a long time ago, but I’ve always asked ‘Why?’ and, ‘Couldn’t we do that another way?’ I was Co-Chair from Sept 2013 until Dec 15, and was an honour guiding the ‘teamwork’ of the Management Team and parent ‘Reps’ in working with services, organisations and our amazing parent carers in West Sussex. I am now lead person on the Forum’s health project.
I’VE BEEN INVOLVED WITH a small pony riding group for over 10 years. The majority of the riders, (aged 4-10), have cerebral palsy and require a high degree of support. Watching the riders achieve is very satisfying, but equally important to me has been creating a supportive group where parent carers take 20 minutes out of their day to chat with other parent carers, exchange insights and tips and drink a cup of tea! I hope I bring to the Management Team, an “outsider” perspective as a small-time provider of services for children with complex needs.
I’VE BEEN A PART of the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum since April 2010. I have a son and a daughter who are 13 years and 12 years old. My son has learning disabilities, limited communication, which affects his behaviour and he attends a special school. Both siblings are very close to each other and I am very proud of how well they both get on. My background is in the NHS and I was a cardiographer for many years, also working in A & E reception after my children were born. I went to university in my 30s and have since completed a BA in History & Irish Studies as well as completing my MA in Irish Studies last year. I enjoyed the challenge of studying later on in life. Since joining the Forum, I’ve had many roles including being part of the Management Team and was Chair and Co-Chair until 2013. I thoroughly enjoy working with the Forum team and have made some good friends as well as colleagues. At the moment, I’m the South East Rep for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums which the Forum is linked to, so I am able to work on the ground, listening to what families are saying and being able to bring it to the region as well. I’m a great believer in the collective voice which I think is a very powerful to help services and the wider community to understand what is like being a parent carer, and how it impacts on family life.
WHEN MY SON was first diagnosed, I felt isolated and didn’t know where to go to get help, information and support. I met up with the Forum in its early days, as it was starting up, and felt immediately that I had support and help from other parent carers who knew my situation and could understand. We first worked from someone’s front room and since then we have grown from strength to strength. I’ve learnt so much from my years at the Forum that I’ve been able to share and give back to other parent carers in my role on the Management Team.
I’M ONE OF THE founder members, which was over 7 years ago. There were four of us working from a front room with a carry bag as our filing system! We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. I have one grown up daughter and two teenagers. My youngest has autism with complex needs, and, like any young person needs support and encouragement to achieve the best he possibly can in life. I became involved with the Forum to help make a difference on behalf of all parent carers around supporting our children and young people and their families. We still have long way to go with all of the recent changes in the Law, but we are looking forward and understand that what we are doing now as a Forum, will make a difference in the future.
Niki Websdale – Admin
OVER THE YEARS I’ve worked in early years and as a qualified playworker. I am also trained as a teaching assistant. My son has ADHD and Autism and I got involved with the Forum, helping to organise the SEND Roadshows, and found myself stepping into the admin role. I’m based in our office in Littlehampton, and if you phone us, the chances are you will speak to me!
Emma Bashford – Volunteer Coordinator
I BECAME A member of the Forum in 2010 as my daughter has a severe learning disability and autism. In 2015 I decided that I would like to get more actively involved so I went along to some training events and shortly afterwards started as a volunteer. I found it hugely rewarding to have the opportunity to attend meetings as a parent rep and have met many fantastic friends and colleagues. I am now the Volunteer Coordinator so if you would like to find out more about volunteering then please do get in touch!
Our mission is to bring about positive change by providing training, information and support to parents empowering them to participate in shaping services for their families, children and young people with additional needs and disabilities.
WEST SUSSEX PARENT CARER FORUM rely on grants and donations and we would like to thank our following supporters together with all staff, volunteers, parent carer representatives and everyone who has helped us on our journey. Thank you!
THE WEST SUSSEX PARENT CARER FORUM is committed to the safeguarding and protection of children and young people. Our aim is to provide our members, volunteers, Management Team and administration staff with clear guidance about their role and responsibilities in safeguarding children. We provide information to parents and carers about the safeguarding measures that the Forum employs to ensure that it meets its responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. Our Designated Safeguarding Officer is Niki Websdale. To contact Niki or to find out more about our policies and procedures, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01903 726188.
PARENT CARER MAY 2016: ” Today I was lucky enough to take part in the Expert Parent Programme which was organised by the WSPCF. It was very informative in gaining a better idea on how the health system works. Anna also gave us many skills like being more confident and assertive in how to positively ask for what we require to enable our children. Anna was also very knowledgeable about the law and the rights for both parents and their young people. It was an amazing and inspirational workshop. Thank you Anna and WSPCF.”
WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL MAY 2016: “Rachel Froggatt from the Parent Carer Forum spoke at the West Sussex County Council SEND Strategy Launch Event on the 21st April. The Cabinet Members (Stephen Hillier and Richard Burrett) fed back that they thought that her presentation was excellent and passed on their thanks and congratulations. WSCC also received really positive feedback from other attendees, who felt that Rachel was both inspirational and funny! Thanks very much for agreeing to speak at our event. “
PARENT CARER APRIL 2016: ” Katherine at wspcf was really helpful she came into my sons school palatine primary was very friendly and helpful she told me about other services that I didn’t know about and was very helpful. The coffee and cake morning at busted community centre was really good found out lots of good information about different services that are available locally for my son to access. Also she told me about the carer grant that I can receive which is really good as can have some time for me and don’t have the kids with me so can relax thankyou for all your help!.”
PARENT CARER APRIL 2016: ” “Spoke to a lady called Nikki, she made me feel hope and relief that there are people to help me get what’s best for my son which so far has been such a battle! Thank you for being there and providing this service.”
PARENT CARER APRIL 2016: ” I work as a Learning Mentor in several different schools across West Sussex and after attending the training delivered by Inclusive Solutions on Creating Circles of Friends I have been inspired to try it in two of my schools to support two different boys with Autism. So far I am finding it an amazing tool, the response from the other children is so rewarding and their attitudes so mature and lovely that I feel that the gentle coaxing into ‘simply giving it a go’ from Colin’s training was the incentive I needed…..I really just wanted to say thank you for laying on the brilliant training and please don’t stop there ! I have many resources and options to try in my role as a Learning Mentor when I am supporting a child, this one has just gone to the top of the list!!”
PARENT CARER OCTOBER 2015: ” Thank you WSPCF for allowing Amy and I to join some of the parents at Foxes Hotel this last weekend. Maureen and her staff were brilliant and really helpful with Amy (thank you too Sarah and Grainne!!). It really did feel like a mini holiday as Minehead is such a sweet town, nice seaside walks and I enjoyed my cream tea in the High Street just watching the world go by – well mainly blokes in Welsh rugby t-shirts!! Thank you again for a great weekend!”
PARENT CARER JUNE 2015: ” I attended another valuable workshop facilitated by WSPCF on tuesday 5th june; Person centred planning, made me stop and re assess how we view our daughters needs. Thanks WSPCF X”
PARENT CARER JUNE 2015: ” On Tuesday, I went to the Person Centred Planning workshop that was organised by WSPCF. It was so refreshing to be asked to think positively about my child and what his strengths and aims are, rather than thinking of all the negatives. I feel Person Centred Planning would be useful for every child but particularly for those with additional needs. I wish my son, who is 18 and on the autistic spectrum, had been offered Person Centred Planning before we went through the rigmarole of getting him a Statement. Thank you WSPCF!”
PARENT CARER JUNE 2015: “I went on an inspirational training course today organised by West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, led by Inclusive Solutions. We were welcomed with smiling faces & a tea or coffee was brought to us, such a treat! We learnt about Person Centred Planning, focusing on ordinary needs, not special needs, and how we could use the MAPS creative planning tool, to create a shared vision of a positive future, a good life for individuals and families. Every parent and every professional who works with children would benefit from attending this course Thank you so much for organising this training.”
PARENT CARER JUNE 2015: ” I first went to a PCAG about 3 weeks after my little one was identified by school as having additional needs. I was so nervous, but everyone was lovely. Since then we have gone through the diagnostic process and WSPCF has been very handy with the training and information they provide. PACE- was instrumental in me finding out what help was available and to gently find my way. PCAG- I’ve always found them to be really helpful especially the topics and the people from the county that come. Out of the box- really helpful and even made me think of better ways we can use our personal budget. Making your voice heard- really helpful and a great insight into how things work. Person centred planning- that was just brilliant- Very thought provoking and really turns the medical model on its head and gives a bigger picture for our young people.WSFCF has helped me stay informed, offered excellent training, and are a very supportive bunch of parent carers :-)”
PARENT CARER JUNE 2015: ” I attended another valuable workshop facilitated by WSPCF on tuesday 5th june; Person centred planning, made me stop and re assess how we view our daughters needs. Thanks WSPCF X “
The above feedback has been taken from West Sussex County Council’s Local Offer website. Please post your experiences and comments on the Forum and on other providers. By doing this services and other parent carers will benefit from real time feedback enabling them to make informed choices about the services they will use.