ESPCF November Newsletter
Welcome to our November newsletter, also known as the birthday edition! We’ve reached a mini-milestone and are marking the one-year anniversary since ESPCF was set up. But more importantly, we've got lots to tell you. 
A message from Holly, ESPCF Chair
Hi everyone. We’re really grateful to those of you who have been in touch, telling us what's going well for your children, but also sharing experiences and issues which you would like us to take forward in our meetings.
We know that, at times, things can feel overwhelming. If you are struggling at all, and think a chat with our engagement coordinator Denise would help, just let us know. It can be good to talk to a friendly voice and she may be able to signpost you to further support.
It’s great to see the activity on our members' Facebook group, and it’s proving an effective way of highlighting issues directly to us, as well as providing peer support from other parents.
Remember anyone in East Sussex who is a parent carer of a child or young person aged up to 25 with any additional needs or disabilities can join, so please do spread the word. Our voices are stronger together. We hope to be back in touch before Christmas with a short update, and until then take care.
Chair, ESPCF
25 November 2020
Did you know?
If you follow our Facebook page, or are a member of our closed Facebook group, you’ll have noticed every Friday we are publishing a "Did You Know?" postcard, highlighting a particular piece of information which parent carers might not be aware of, or offering some clarity on a topic which frequently comes up.
We're planning to run these for a few more weeks, so keep your eyes peeled every Friday, and feel free to suggest some ideas for subjects you’d like to see covered by sending us an email at the usual address.
Parent carer stories
For some families, it has been a bumpy time since the beginning of September, adjusting to the return to school or college (if your child or young person has gone back) and coping with ongoing Covid uncertainties and challenges. Here’s our chair, Holly, talking about how the return went for her family.
We hope to publish more parent carer video stories soon – if you’d like to share yours, please get in touch.
Dear diary...
We're starting a new feature for members where we'll tell you more about our day-to-day activities. It's a snapshot of our diary, looking ahead at what we've got coming up, and it will be available on our closed Facebook group for members (no problem if you're not on Facebook - let us know and we'll email or post it to you).
We'll be starting in December, but in the meantime, here's what November looked like for the forum:
  • Tues 3rd: Quarterly meeting of carers organisations in the voluntary and community sector 
  • Weds 4th: Monthly coproduction meeting with ISEND (this is where we discuss parent carer experiences directly with senior managers and explore areas for partnership working)
  • Mon 9th: Meeting with the chair of the Secondary Board of headteachers to talk about ESPCF’s role and how we can share feedback from families and address shared concerns
  • Tues 10th: East Sussex College Group: a catch up with the Additional Learning Services Director, sharing feedback from parent carers  
  • Weds 18th: Joint Strategic Needs Assessment meeting
  • Thurs 19th: Strategy Governance Group meeting with education, health, and social care representatives, where we presented on some of the challenges parent carers raise with us when they join the forum, and shared coproduction highlights, such as the recent PDA position statement
  • Fri 20th: Regional meeting of parent carer forums (see our round-up further down)
  • Tues 24th: Emotionally Based School Avoidance session with parent carers talking about their experiences to help the development of new resources to support families and help children and young people remain in education
Building links with schools
The forum has been pleased to attend meetings of the different Senco hubs across the county. It's been a positive opportunity to introduce Sencos to the forum, and to help spread the word about what we do. We hope to be able to work positively with schools, highlighting and exploring collective issues raised by ESPCF members, to improve experiences for children and young people.
Hearing from other parent carer forums
At the regular meeting of parent carer forums in the South East, we heard a familiar story of varied provision from across the region – some good, some not good – with a common theme of children and young people being excluded or put onto flexible timetables due to zero tolerance behaviour policies, or health absences not being properly recorded. It was helpful to hear how other PCFs are exploring and working in partnership with local authorities and schools in their areas to address these issues.
Coincidentally, the meeting was attended by a team leader from the Department for Education, so she had plenty of feedback for her department to consider. We also added our voice to the national forum’s feedback to Vicky Ford, the children and families minister, on the support needed for SEND families during Covid-19 restrictions.
Emotionally Based School Avoidance
A very big thank you to our members who took part in the session on Emotionally Based School Avoidance on Tuesday 24 November. This subject can be distressing and difficult to talk about, and the parent carers who took part shared valuable knowledge and experiences which will feed into a much-needed new programme of support.
Members can still contribute, so please get in touch if you would like to find out more.
We'll keep you all updated on the project's progress.
Guest speaker on autism and bullying
We’re delighted that Dr Emily Lovegrove will be giving an online talk on autism and anti-bullying strategies tomorrow, Thursday 26 November at 11am.
This is an online session (via Zoom) for parent carers in East Sussex, and there is still time to register if you'd like to come along. Please email Becky Jones for further information.
Tell us your views
On Monday 7 December, ESPCF will be attending a meeting with health professionals and practitioners to review the referral form sent by schools to Community Paediatrics for autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions.
We are really pleased to have been asked for input on this, and we’re keen to hear from any parent carers who have suggestions for how the referral form could be improved.
To view the current form, click on the button below and go to section 4 called Resources. Then select the link 'Multidisciplinary Information Gathering Form for Community Paediatricians'. This will open a Word document of the form under review.
Updating our records
If you haven't already done so, please send in your postal address. Our old membership form did not collect this info, but our newer version does. So, if you'd like to hear from us (now and again) the old-fashioned way, please get in touch with your details. This information will be kept securely and in accordance with data protection laws.
Tell your friends and family
Please spread the word about ESPCF to your parent carer friends and family. The more members we have, the greater our voice, and the more likely we are to be heard. Click on the button below to find out more about joining the forum.
Your ideas
We'd love to hear from members with ideas about what you would like to see featured in our newsletter. 
What would you like to hear more about? Are there topics we haven't mentioned which you'd like to see included?
Please get in touch with your suggestions.
And that's it for November. We're off to blow out our birthday candle!
We'll be back in touch before Christmas, and in the meantime, take care, and if you need to get in touch you can find us in the usual places:

November 2020
YAC Eastbourne
56-58 Seaside, Eastbourne,
BN22 7QL
0300 770 1367
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