Bolton Parent Carer Consortium
Bolton Parent Carer Consortium is run by parent carers, for parent carers to offer support, knowledge, an escape and friends.
Our group is run by a team of 9 volunteers we are all parent carers. Our members are parent carers from Bolton, who have a child with a disability and/or special educational needs. This could be anything from autism to cerebral palsy to complex life limiting conditions. We started out in 2014 as a traditional parent carer forum, however over the years we have developed in a support system for parent carers. In the Spring we were able to put on a holistic event for over 100 parent carers offering health and wellbeing sessions, lunch, workshops and a marketplace. Feedback from this event helped us realise our efforts are appreciated most when we support parent carers in their roles. We provide a variety of ways in which parents can feel supported by understanding peers. Being a parent carer can be very isolating, often parents have to give up jobs they need and love to become full time carers. It can be a stressful journey through diagnosis, provision and professionals, often leaving parents feeling lost. We run a variety of activities which we are keen to expand, from workshops, to a support group and soon some social activities. Our workshops upskill parent carers to gain the knowledge they need to support or advocate for their children. Parents tell us that when they join in our activities they feel more confident, better equipped and simply they enjoy being around understanding peers. As a parent carer it is easy to lose touch with friends, as our children grow older and have different and additional needs it is very easy to become socially isolated, we are working to find ways of preventing this, across Bolton communities, so that supportive friendships can be made.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
Our most in demand activities currently are our workshops that we run as volunteers. We bring together parents to upskill them on the processes surrounding Education, Health and Care Plans and Special Educational Needs Support in School. We run small group sessions where parent carers can talk openly, ask questions and gain knowledge and support. There is no one offering this level of guidance to parents, the systems all changed in 2014, and the only way parents can find out what they need to know to best support their child or young person is to scour the internet. We develop legally based workshops, that support parents through the process. Additionally, we bring together a small group of peers, we provide refreshments and we also include some group activity and down-time to ensure that the parents get to connect with each other. We have had school staff attend the sessions and their feedback has been that they would highly recommend that parents attend the sessions. Following on from feedback, we want to be able to expand our workshop offering to put on a session to increase personal confidence when dealing with professionals, in particular at your child’s annual review at school. This can be a meeting attended 2-5 professional, from school staff to psychologists, therapists and authority representatives. Parents tell us they feel they need support to understand how to prepare for these meetings, which are every year, and how best to advocate for their child at the meeting. We also want to be able to put on a session that talks in depth about all that Bolton has to offer for these families – whether it’s who’s who in education and health, to where are there inclusive activities for children with disabilities. Both these sessions would run to our format that offers a relaxed environment time, time for chatting and refreshments. We would spend the money on the venue hire and refreshments, we run sessions in the daytime and the evenings to meet need. Also, we ensure that every parent leaves with an informative handout of everything we have covered, so there would be print costs. Our aim would be to run 12 sessions of each workshop. Which would reach 120 parents. The knowledge and advice that the parents gain in the sessions would enable them to grow their confidence and knowledge in order to support their children for years to come.
"We are really excited to be working to be able to grow our opportunities to offer support to Bolton's parent carers.
Nan Cooper, Chairperson"