Parent carers across England unite to kick off this year’s National Parent Carer Participation conference

4 mins read

Monday 30 January 2023

Tags: parent carer forums, parent participation

The National Parent Carer Participation conference organised by Contact and the National Network for Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) kicks off today, Tuesday, 31 January.

The theme of the #LetsParticipate23 conference is Reconnection, Resilience & Renewal. It includes three virtual conference days followed by a face-to-face meet-up in Bristol at the end of February.

It’s an opportunity for parent carers from up to 152 parent carer forums across England to attend presentations and workshops. And it’s a chance to share challenges, ideas, and co-production opportunities.

The action-packed conference includes sessions led by NHS England to talk about the challenges families face accessing community-based services, like ADHD and paediatric services, in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. There will be an address from Claire Coutinho, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing).

Forums have risen to the challenge of the last few years

“This year’s conference is a true celebration of how forums continue to come together through the incredibly tough times we’ve seen recently. The impact of the pandemic is still felt by many families caring for a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). At the same time, the cost of living crisis has created even more stresses for families already struggling to get by.

“There’s no doubt that the last few years have tested the resilience of parent carer forums, their leaders and members alike. But forums have risen to the challenge, and despite everything there are now officially over 110,000 members involved in PCFs across England. As well as the opportunity to gain more knowledge and ideas and to share their experiences, the conference is a chance to celebrate everyone involved in parent carer forums. We’re really looking forward to reconnecting at what promises to be an engaging and informative few days.”

Carolyn Deveney, Head of Parent Carer Participation at Contact

Parent carer forums work locally with strategic partners colleagues in education, health, social care, and other local organisations. They work to ensure that services best meet the needs of families of children and young people with SEND.  They represent the voice and experiences of those receiving services. And they make sure that service providers take account of them when planning, designing, implementing, and reviewing services. 

The NNPCF is the national umbrella organisation of which all local forums are members. It represents the combined voice of local forums and regional forum networks. That’s over 110,000 parent carers involved in forums feeding in at Government level.

Tina Emery, co-chair of the NNPCF, said: “This is the 14th year that the NNPCF and Contact have worked together and with parent carer forums across England to amplify the experiences of those caring for a disabled child.  It feels right that the theme for this year’s conference is Reconnection, Resilience & Renewal.

“The last few years have been so difficult. The effects of the pandemic are still being felt by families who care for a child with SEND.  This makes the role of parent carer forums more important than ever.”

Contact’s support for Forums

Find out more about how Contact supports parent carer forums.

Find a parent carer forum near you.

Watch our videos about parent carer forums

Our video, ‘What is a parent carer forum and what do they do?’, explains more about parent carer forums, parent participation. It explains how parents across England are helping improve local and national services for children with SEND.

In the film ‘Making a difference: Why should I join my local parent carer forum?’, you’ll hear from parent carer forum members talking about why they got involved and the difference they make to children with SEND and their families.