Engaging children and young people in the local offer
KIDS case study about two parents who helped produce a short breaks local offer. Written by Lynn Horsfield, KIDS.
All local authorities were required to produce a local offer which documented the services and opportunities for disabled young people in the area.
Hampshire distributed a guidance sheet to be completed by all activity providers wishing to be on their local offer website.
KIDS worked with parents from the schemes to see what info they would want/need to know and completed the documents with them. They looked at the language used and supported with making the information parent friendly.
Gary and Jen are the parents of a young man with autism and other complex needs including health and behaviour support requirements. They came to a session for parents to support KIDS with producing their submission for the local offer.
These are some of Gary and Jens thoughts about the session and the work we did to co- produce the local offers.
"At the session there were a mix of parents, some had young people who were relatively high functioning and others had, like us, young people with complex needs. It was good that there was a range as we could discuss what information was important to different people.
"There was of course a high number of similarities in what information we, as parents, felt was important and it was great that we were listened to and action taken. It was a demonstration of real participation which is great.
"You know if parents aren't happy - they won't send their children along and with no attendees you have no provision. Parental feedback is important because if it is important to us, it is probably important to someone else too.
"As a provider - often professional mode kicks in and this can be daunting or scary for parents who are not used to working on this level. As parents who have been through these experiences, we could help pitch the tone and language to be more supportive and reassuring. Joe Bloggs may not know what it feels like to be confronted by new and sometimes hard hitting information, but as parents of disabled children we do.
"As parents we have experienced trawling through information and the stress it can bring when after all that reading it's not for you. Key information needs to be highlighted and given early. It should be big, bold and easy to understand. We don't have time to waste going through information that's not for us.
"We worked together to ensure that information that was essential was at the top and this primarily would show if a young person could access - a real time saver.
"As parents we have passion, we know what is good for our children and our families. Helping to improve communications and information is something more parents should try to do. From giving constructive feedback to actually coming along to groups and forums. I think it is so important - anything we can do to help make a difference for other families like ours is a really good thing.
"It's not just about organisations supporting families, or even families supporting organisations - it's really about working together to make things better for everyone."