I first joined the Information, Advice and Support Service in April 2013 as Parent Participation Assistant. My appointment was quite unique in that the post was advertised for a parent or carer of a child with additional needs. My role involved supporting the development of the parent carer forum, Voice4Parents who aim to seek the views of parents and carers and make positive changes to the services families receive.
I became a member of Voice4Parents after attending an event hosted by the Information, Advice and Support Service. My daughter has a neurological condition called Hemiplegia which causes a weakness similar to that of a stroke. This makes everyday tasks harder and she also experiences difficulties with some elements of her learning. My personal experience has allowed me to play an active part in parent participation by giving my views and experiences of services.
Parent participation has worked well in Wolverhampton for many years and has been recognised nationally as an area of best practice. The SEND Code of Practice 2014 now places a legal duty on local authorities, health and other partners to work in co-production, (parents and carers working alongside professionals as equal partners) with planning and shaping services for disabled children and those with special educational needs. The City of Wolverhampton Council has made a real commitment to this and I was successfully appointed as Co-production Officer in October 2016. As well as continuing to support Voice4Parents I will be working to embed and sustain co-production across agencies to ensure the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of local families.