Deanne writes a blog about her experience speaking to around 30 MPs and members of the House of Lords at our virtual parliamentary event on 17 June, hosted by Mary Foy MP. We can’t thank Deanne and Amber, and all the other young people and parents that spoke, enough.
On Friday 17th June myself and Amber spoke at the Disabled Children’s Partnership parliamentary event for Members of Parliament and the House of Lords. The event was part of the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s #SendABetterMessageCampaign around the recently published SEND Green Paper.
The event was held online via Zoom. Both parents and young people shared their stories of the current system and if they thought the current proposals will make things any better for families like mine.
So, I’ll introduce us. I’m Deanne, mum to Amber who is 18 and has a disability and special educational needs.
Amber shared her experiences of school, taking the local authority to tribunal at 16 for the right to go to the college of her choice, and the difference having social care support to develop her independence skills has made to her life. As Amber says constantly, “I only want the same opportunities as my non disabled friends.”
Both myself and Amber are no strangers to campaigning and it sort of became part of our lives by default. Myself not wanting other families to face the constant fighting and battling for basic support we have faced, and Amber is keen that disabled young people have a voice and access to opportunities.
We were both really keen to share our experiences with MPs and Lords to hopefully influence them to support the campaign and better understand the experiences of families with disabled children and young people. Amber was really keen to share how good quality support and the right attitude from staff at her sixth form have transformed her life, but she’s now concerned what will happen when she moves to adult services. As even though the local authority says this must be well planned for age 14+ at the latest this just has not happened. Annual reviews haven’t been done as the Law states and I ended up informing the Social Worker that Amber has turned 18.
We both enjoyed speaking at the event, and Amber found the pre-planned questions really helpful as it meant I could support her beforehand to think what she wanted to say as this is sometimes something she struggles with.
Sharing our personal experiences sometimes can be tough and I’m still surprised by how upset I get when recounting the many injustices my girl has faced simply because she has a disability.
However, I’m glad we were given the opportunity as I believe it’s only from hearing real life experiences like ours and the many shared at today’s event that real change will happen!
So finally, thank you to the Disabled Children’s Partnership for inviting us and to all the MPs and Lords for attending, to Mary Kelly Foy MP for hosting and to everyone who invited their MP and shared the event on social media.
Coverage is key to keeping this high on the agenda. We all had so much to say we and unfortunately ran out of time!
One last thing from today is that accountability is key within SEND and clearly the current proposals do not go far enough on this.
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