Covid challenges can’t stop work of parent carer forums across England
4 mins read
Friday 22 October 2021
The pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for many parent carer forums (PCFs) – not least because they are run by parent carers who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 in a number of ways.
Despite the challenges, PCFs have found new ways of working in order to reach new parent carers, reduce isolation and strengthen the voice of families with disabled children in their communities at such a critical time. Some examples include:
- Hartlepool PCF, 1Hart, 1Mind, 1Future, ran a campaign called ‘Spread a Little Sunshine’ at the beginning of lockdown to help local families struggling during the pandemic. The forum secured funding to provide family care packages that included sensory resources and family games. And as Covid-19 restrictions began to lift, the forum started to bring families together for support by holding face to face outdoor activities at the beach or in the park. This gave parents the chance to talk with each other and share experiences while their children had fun, and the forum found out more from parents about their concerns and issues.
- Wiltshire PCF, the Wiltshire Parent Carer Council, held regular virtual coffee mornings. The forum collated the tips and suggestions that parents carers shared at these meetings to produce a virtual Summer Tips and Trips leaflet. The forum also worked with a local independent organisation to develop accessible summer activities for local children and young people with SEND and their families. And earlier in the pandemic, they conducted a survey to ask parents how they felt about the return to school. The results were shared and informed the local authority’s COVID-19 returning to school advice for parents.
- Cornwall PCF, Parent Carers Cornwall, heard from families of young people who were fearful of vaccinations or didn’t have the mental capacity to understand them. The forum worked with the local NHS foundation trust and local authority to create guidance for families concerned about the COVID Vaccine for those with a learning disability together with a ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ checklist . They also worked with the local direct payments team for the area to allow additional flexibility in how young people’s payments could be used creative ways to meet their child’s needs during the lockdown.
- Shropshire PCF, the Shropshire Parent and Carer Council, raised concerns with their Clinical Commissioning Group and local authority who had made a local decision to extend the eligibility for Covid vaccination to all those with a learning disability. The forum worked with GPs to ensure they accepted young people for vaccination that otherwise would have been missed from the programme and letters were sent to all local young people with a Learning Disability informing them of their eligibility for the vaccine, information about annual health checks and GP Learning disability registers.
Find out more about parent carer forums in England
Watch our video What is a Parent Carer and What do they do? to find out more about Parent Carer Forums, parent carer participation, and how parents across England are helping to improve local and national services for children and young people with SEND.
Watch Making a difference, why Should I join my local Parent Carer Forum? to hear Parent Carer Forum members talking about why they got involved, and the difference they make to children and young people with SEND and their families.
Contact is the delivery partner of the Department for Education supporting the development of parent carer participation in England.