ESPCF update - January 2021

No sooner had we packed away the tinsel than the realisation of a third national lockdown dawned.

It became clear pretty quickly in January that there was to be no let-up in the challenges faced by everyone, and ESPCF’s first action on returning to our virtual offices was to hold a virtual ‘emergency’ drop-in session with parent carers across East Sussex.

A couple of key issues emerged straightaway: the need for clarity of information on levels of risk and reassurance around provision for SEND children and young people, either in school or at home.

We heard some positive stories from parent carers about schools working hard to respond to the last-minute changing national picture, but also concerns around the lack of stability in routine and support for children and young people who had only just started to feel settled again on returning in the autumn. ESPCF quickly fed this back to the local authority, highlighting the main message from parent carers of timely access to up-to-date information and support, and we encouraged acceleration of communications to parent carers across the county.

We’re continuing to hold regular weekly drop-ins for parent carers in East Sussex, and we’d love for you to come along and share your lockdown experiences. It has been great to connect directly with parent carers and is a reminder of the value of peer-to-peer support. We will also continue to use these sessions as opportunities to feedback to the local authority and clinical commissioning group about the situation ‘on the ground’.

Click to view upcoming drop-in sessions

ESPCF phone-line for parent carers

In the first week of January we created a phone-line for parent carers to call if in need of a chat: to share lockdown experiences, raise concerns, or ask questions (we do our best to point you in the direction of appropriate info, support, or advice services), or just to have a chat about how things are going. The line remains open so do call (telephone number in the flyer below) – or send a message and we’ll call you back – if you are in need of a friendly ear.

Click to view phone-line flyer (PDF)

Exercising outside – letter for SEND families

ESPCF worked swiftly with our parent carer forum neighbours in Brighton and West Sussex, and with charities Amaze and Reaching Families, to publish a letter for families to use when exercising outside with their SEND child or young person. The letter explains why a SEND family may need to be outside more often, travel further afield, or be in a group of more than two people, and we were pleased that this was shared widely. We’re also grateful that Sussex Police have highlighted this letter to officers for their own awareness.

Download the letter to SEND families about exercising outside (PDF)


Alongside lockdown, ESPCF is continuing to attend a range of meetings with education, health, and social care professionals, as well keeping up momentum on a number of other active projects. We’ll bring you a full round-up in our next newsletter, but highlights include: opportunities for parent carer input on a referral form for neurodevelopmental pathways, a review of Ophthalmology services in East Sussex, a survey on Emotionally Based School Avoidance, and an infographic to help young people with the transition to adulthood.

We are also excited to welcome several great new parent representatives who play a crucial role as the eyes, ears, and voice of parent carers, by attending meetings, representing feedback, and keeping us informed. To hear more about what they have been working on, check out the next ESPCF newsletter which will be published soon.

ESPCF membership

We are delighted that our membership is growing steadily and a big thank you, and welcome, to those who have already joined.

It’s really easy to become an ESPCF member and add your voice to our community of parent carers. Find out more by visiting our website or simply fill in our quick membership form. We’ll keep you updated on the latest news, as well as offering ways to become more involved, if you wish.

That’s all for now. We hope everyone is safe and well.

January 2021

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