Partners in PolicymakingPartners in Policymaking



United Kingdom

Sandra Barrett — Following Partners Sandra successfully applied for the post of NW regional officer with RADAR. She said that the skills and information from Partners made her the best candidate for the job, She has been an invaluable resource for other Partners, brilliant for networking, and now is one of our presenters on Policymaking at national level session. Sandra is holding regular events of particular interest to Partners. This is helping people get together and strengthen the Partners network in the NW.

Caroline Tomlinson — Caroline works for social services. She runs an inclusive play club for children — her son, Joseph, has a wonderful circle of support, and now uses facilitated communication and goes to mainstream school. Caroline is an inspiration, a good contact to other Partners and a regular presenter on the courses. She has designed a presentation on inclusive play and facilitated communication.

Jane Ball — Jane went on to work with Contact a Family, and now presents a session on her work and how she enabled her daughter to go to mainstream school with her brother.

Hazel Whitfield — Hazel has done lots of 'training' and consultancy since she finished Partners: she has worked with Paul Taylor, at Calderstones (a large institution) giving a presentation to hundreds of people, and assisting Oxana Metiuk with the Partners course in Staffordshire. Hazel attends Partners graduations. She has given out the certificates to Gt. Manchester and Merseyside graduates and has managed to be in all the group photographs. She loves Partners, and loves presenting.

Joan Studdart — Joan is working with 'parents and carer's' in Wirral, and is helping recruit people for both Partners in Policymaking and Sharing the Challenge courses. Joan is developing the history of the parents movement for the Sharing the Challenge course.

Joan Black — Joan has been working with Libby Kitt and others on health issues since her graduation, and has a particular interest in transition policy. Joan has met up with the UK coordinator and Partners from Sefton; they are working with local authorities in the area to help them write a policy on transition.

Jackie Wright — Following a negative experience that her son had, Jackie has been 'educating' priests and others connected to the Catholic church on how to successfully include disabled children and adults in church activities.

Pam Green was successful in being offered the post of 'named person' for Contact a Family.

Sharon Kilday has started a support group for parents of children who have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). She has raised funds, formed a committee and acquired premises. Sharon has been successful in getting guidelines for teachers written into Oldham's education policy. Sharon recently met up with a Partner from Scotland in order to exchange information and ideas.

Daniel Doherty is chair of Manchester People First and is on Paul Taylor's Leadership for Change course.

Steven Daw has appeared on TV and is thinking of taking up acting in order to promote self advocacy and disability awareness. Steven is now employed working closely with disabled people.

Judy Aspinall has fulfilled her dream to go to university. She has successfully offered to do consultancy work on disability awareness in order to fund herself. Her particular interest is around sign language and physical assess.

Clair Lewis has gone on to do training with DAN (Direct Action Network) as a self advocate. She has also successfully challenged the medical profession about their traditional response to people who have restricted growth – her daughter has restricted growth. Clair wants her to have some say about using growth hormones. Clair has written some brilliant poems that are now used in Partners courses here in the UK and in the USA. She has recently set up a Partners network through e-mail.

Ruth Card has given presentations to the medical profession about epilepsy, together with Sandra Barrett from the '96 course. Ruth attends all the events possible in the NW.

Hazel Crossland has formed a circle of support around her son, who was "sent away to a large institution". She wants him to be able to live in his own community. Hazel is working closely with Rochdale Authorities.

Vicky Hughes has been to Westminster to talk to MP's about disability issues. She is working closely with other Partners in Oldham.

Phil Palmer is a whiz on IT. He has done work with Jen Taylor presenting on the Partners course, is designing a Partners web page, and is a constant support to many of the Partners, sorting their computer problems out, and getting them on e mail. He gives lots of his time. He is looking for work around disability issues, and has gone part time in his present job.

Margaret Cook, Gail Chorlton and Anne Mc Dowell became great friends on the course. They have assisted Paul Taylor in some work around advocacy and support, and Margaret and Gail are working with local nurseries on the inclusion of all children. They are also supporting Anne to access INCA, a supported employment initiative, in order for her to fulfill her dream of getting a job. Margaret's son's life has been totally transformed since she graduated from Partners.

Thresa Brine has stopped her battle with services, used the skills she has learned on Partners, and got her son, Charlie, the downstairs bedroom he needs. She then has gone on to get him a place at his local mainstream school. Theresa is working with families in the NW and other parts of the country and has enabled several children with high support needs to have places in their local school with the appropriate support.

Karen Evans — Karen was successfully elected to council in Oldham, and has got onto the social services and education committees. This is a first for Partners world wide.

Pat Ayres has been successful in getting her granddaughter Kate into mainstream school. Pat is her granddaughter's guardian, and she is now getting telephone calls from all across the country for help and advice. I have put her in touch with my contacts and we are linking families with 'good people' in their area.

From Merseyside

Tracey Robinson is starting her new job soon. She is supporting parents whose children have Autism, acting as a bridge between them and the education authority. This is a new and exciting post. Tracey says that the skills and information she has got from Partners got her the job.

Bill Heron is the chair of People First Liverpool and European representative. He says that Partners has taught him so much already and will help him to help others through his work with People First. Bill and Karen Flood have set up a business. They have been given a rent-free office and legal help from social services. They are working with Partners who have young children in order to educate doctors, social workers, etc. in Liverpool. Bill is on the Leadership for Change course. Bill and Karen chaired a day with self advocates, which enabled us to gather information to give to the government, to advise them on the learning disability strategy.

June Hill has formed a support group for parents who live in her area of Merseyside. She offers support and advice on education issues. June is also taking part in the Leadership for Change management course. She is developing the History of the Parent's Movement presentation in order that we have more than one person able to give this very important presentation. June is 'head of creation' on many of the presentations given by the Liverpool transition group.

Karen Flood has joined the board of Liverpool Citizen Advocacy scheme. She hopes to represent the group in Europe. Karen is also taking part in the Leadership for Change course. Karen and Bill Heron have written a play, with the help of some professional writers (Brookside). They're going to put the play on in schools, youth clubs etc. Karen is going to contact a Partners from Scotland who wants to do something similar.

Several Partners are working with a consultant pediatrician on "sharing the news", advising on the best way to let parents know that their child has a disability.

Several Partners are working with people who are doing a review of services for disabled children at Alderhey hospital, sharing their experiences and making recommendations.

Some of the participants have formed a transition working party. They are making appointments with service representatives, preparing themselves by deciding questions and nominating a spokesperson and timekeeper. These meeting have been very successful.

Four Partners have applied for jobs; three of those with Parents Partnership, an education advisory service for families.

A number of Partners are helping to make a promotional video, which Paul Taylor will take to Portugal at the end of May.

Louise Halpin - a single parent has got a job as a classroom assistant in a mainstream school. She is appalled at what is happening there and intends to make positive changes, Partners-style.

Comments from Participants of the Greater Manchester Partners Programme:

First Session

"Excellent information pack, it is the best that I have seen in all the time I have been in the disability movement".

"The speakers were excellent, and my worries about falling asleep were not realized".

"Already I am able to see my disabled son in a different way. He has needs and rights just because he has no verbal communication does not alter this"

"Hearing about the history stopped me feeling guilty about not getting the help that my son needed I just loved the whole weekend, mixing with people, I have already gained confidence and had my eyes opened"

"The people who spoke, notably for me Paul Taylor, were absolutely incredible"

"If it was possible to score higher than 5 in some cases, I would"

"Hearing from the people who had been on the last course"


"Increase my confidence and self advocacy skills through listening to other people who have done it, and validating for me just how much I already do know, but didn't realize it. Thank you for all the excellent speakers and the time of the session just flowed and left me with a lot to think about."

"It was obviously very well planned and thought out. People with a obvious genuine reason for designing and promoting this Partners course for us. A relaxed atmosphere, all information on hand, all speaker well clued up on their topic, absolutely no complaints!"

"I feel more confident concerning the subject of inclusion, and will continue to challenge any exclusion concerning my son."

"The speakers were excellent, the information was very clear and concise, sometimes very painful to hear, but had to be heard. I feel very privileged to have taken part so far and been given access to information to which I'm sure would never have known. Thank you"

"I was a little nervous about the course because of the long hours, I could not be more wrong. this weekend has strengthened my determination to continue working for disabled peoples rights and promote advocacy, can't wait for October"

"I love it here, I can't wait to come back. I can't get enough!!"

Comments from Participants of the Greater Manchester Partners Programme:

Second Session: Education

The realisation that we are not alone, the subject and strategies will be very useful, they will help me prepare for meetings much more, and not to feel intimidated.

The speakers for this session have been extremely informative, enthusiastic and have given me new hope.

Joe! I love his passion, he has given me the confidence to say that I'm angry and that I am going to help change the world. We could talk to Joe, Chris and Lynne all day!!! (Joe Whittaker, tutor at Bolton Institute, he has argued for inclusive education for years, and went to prison following a 'sit-in' at county hall, it was the 60s all over again.)

I have managed to get my daughter 'inclusion' at nursery already rather than 'integration' with the help of my new knowledge, I know that by the end of this course I will be able to decide what I am going to do with my own future as well. Two months ago when asked how I saw my future I just couldn't think that far, THANK YOU EVERYONE.

My confidence and knowledge are increasing which makes me feel good, I feel in a better position now. Education issues are a minefield of problems that are emerging for me now and so far all that I have absorbed is priceless, and will be put to the best use for my circumstances and for the benefit of anyone who wishes to 'pick my brains'.

The speakers were wonderful. Ken is full of positive information that he presented in an easy to understand way. He has made a difference to my line of thinking. Reading his book which is in itself excellent. Meeting him made it all more personal. Jen was a really useful source of information, knowing that she is there for support and advice if needed is a real boost.

Joe is an inspiration and a model of how we should all feel and be. I was engrossed in his talk.

I no longer feel alone in trying to come to terms with having a child with learning difficulties, It was wonderful. And will help me focus on the positive rather than negative attributes that my daughter has.

I have been alone in the wilderness for so long, I realize now that this is no longer the case.

This session will help me to help my son get a place in mainstream school and feel better equipped to face people in authority. I have more confidence in me.

Each of the speakers were powerful and devoted.

Excellent session, more empowerment to self advocate. I hope from this to become one of the better education managers of Britain.

It has given me a different way of dealing with professionals and meetings. How not to be so confrontational and being in control.

I am very grateful to be invited on to this course. My understanding and confidence is improving 10 fold. I wish I had this information when my son was first statemented. I hope I can help other people in the future.

The information on 'Inclusion' and statementing came just in time as we are waiting to hear if the education will agree to re-assess my son.

My daughter is about to be statemented. The session has been too invaluable to write it down. I will be coming next month to boost my positive levels again!

Excellent speakers - that its o.k. to be angry and it is an emotional subject dealing with real people affected by the policies other people make. THANK YOU.

I was inspired by Ken Jupp's commitment. It was useful to meet with the education panel and ask question and learning 'assertiveness tips'.

In the very near future I will be having my first meeting with our new LEA and this session's information will assist me greatly.

I can now help and inform my friend who has just found out that her 3 year old son has learning difficulties, I can back her up.

There are so many areas that before this session I did not understand properly but do now. We could have done with more time with Jen Taylor on statementing.

The speakers were excellent the honesty, experience and general information plus tips will help me in the future. At last I am not alone. We are in the middle of my daughter statement , I feel much more positive now I am armed with the facts.

To remember that 'Head Teachers' and officials at tribunals are equal, I shouldn't feel intimidated I am the one in control, and I now have allies and friends. Looking forward to next month.

N Negotiation skills I Inclusion must be inclusive
O Optimism for the future N Never underestimate yourself
R Resources can be found    
T Think the unthinkable P Person centered planning
H Help each other O One pagers provide “profiles”
E Every Child Matters L Kegislation is a starting point
R Rights and responsibilities I In control gives choices
N New approaches C Challenge the “system”
    Y You can get what you want/need
P Partnership working M Making change takes time
A Active citizenship = results A Advocacy works
R Reach for your ideals K Knowledge is essential
T Training for everyone I Involve everyone
N Networking helps N Never give up
E Equality brings benefits for all G Growth is possible
R Routines matter    
S Sensory issues are important    

By Deborah Miller
Partners in Policymaking Graduate 20th July 2007
North East Course held at the Venue, Annfield Plain, County Durham