Personal Achievements of a Graduate
of the First Class of Partners in Scotland
Before Partners, I was already involved in campaigning work and in involving other parents and carers in policy and planning of services. I was, however, completely unclear about what I wanted to achieve I knew what was bad but I had not been able to envisage what was good or what was possible. I was frequently cross at meeting and angry with service providers but not able to articulate exactly what was wrong with their approach.
Partners gave me the clarity of approach and vision to be able to see what I wanted to achieve to imagine better and, in lots of ways, the best way to achieve it. It was like someone taking the blinkers off and explaining what I had been going through and why. Every weekend it was like more light bulbs were being switched on in my head it was simply great.
I have been asked to part of the local Joint Commissioning team for Learning Disabilities which gives me lots of opportunities to use what I have learnt and to change [ where possible ]. The knowledge and information from the Partners Course has meant that I have been able to do this easily and, I hope, make a useful contribution.
Being on the Partners Course has enabled me to be able to give much more advice and assistance to other parents in the area to value and use local advocacy schemes and ensure that no-on does it alone. With regard to education I now feel equipped to help other parents fight for what they want and most, instinctively, know that mainstream education is what their children need they just need someone to endorse and support them in their view I now feel that I can do that.
Partners encouraged me, together with another parent, to set up a support group for parents and carers in this area and more importantly not to turn the group into a monthly whining session but to make it positive. The group has gone from strength to strength lots of parents whose children do attend mainstream schools and who felt isolated, now have contact and support.
I am a parent representative on the Children with Disabilities Planning Group which is multi-disciplinary and now has at least 4 parents reps at each meeting. This group has also arranged consultation meeting with parents across the area which I have chaired again the experience and knowledge gained on the Partners course was invaluable I felt that instead of groaning about what was provided, I was able to steer parents into considering different and better ways of looking at things to challenge assumptions about what they wanted.
When the local authority tried to set up their parents forum for parents of children with educational needs they attempted [ - out of ignorance rather than malice I think - ], despite having more than 70 parents express and interest, to take only 15 parents and put them through training and interviews and then appoint them, but only if they promised to commit a certain amount of time to getting views and representing parents other than themselves. Thanks to Partners instead of meekly accepting that this was the way it would be I challenged in a positive way their approach, and suggested that maybe, if this was a parents forum maybe the parents should decide who represented them and how and in what way. I am now meeting the head Educational Psychologist with a view to discussing alternative arrangements for the Forum.
Finally, and I always say this when asked about the effect of the Partners course, but I will make no apologies for it, Partners gave me the freedom to love my son Douglas for who he is and for that alone it was worth it.
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