Thank you for all the interactions over the years. However, this account will be dormant until further notice, as Chris and I have decided to move on. It has been a learning curve since we joined Solihull Parents’ Forum(SPF) in 2010.
SPF has been a platform for all parents to share their concerns and experiences with parents on the forum, who then shared them with services to bring about a positive change. As we know, each one of us is unique, with varied life experiences. Some people may reach out to services to give feedback, while some of us, though we feel passionately about the cause, may not feel comfortable sharing our views. EACH view is important. When we share our views like…’I felt confident as I knew the next steps while using a service’ or ‘I did not feel comfortable with the service as no one responded to my message’, we help build up intelligence around a service to bring about the changes needed to deliver effective service for the well-being of all.
I had beautiful moments through SPF, that helped me learn and grow. I would cherish attending events and meeting people working to improve lives and bringing positive energy to others lives. Hearing from researchers and community workers that studies prove, safe and loved childhood forms a strong, confident foundation for all individuals and helps improve their life chances. They are better equipped to handle difficult situations in relationships and career.
There is a lot of good work going around and support available from various sources. Keep believing in yourself. Somebody once told me, ‘People in general are good. If you don’t know something. Just ask. They would love to help.’
At Parkgate, Shirley a restaurant construction site advertised ‘….Get Involved!’ in discussions about the restaurant through social media (How about ..get involved in constructing the site 🙂 ) It got me thinking about about the phrase ‘GET INVOLVED!’ When we started in 2009,we needed more parents/carers to get involved in decision making process of the borough. Why so? Well, several initiatives are launched and policies reviewed every year backed up by research. How is the take up on schemes? How many people are in work? Research says first 1000 days of a child have a lasting impact on the life chances of a person. How can we deliver best start to all children in Solihull?
However, we, general public form an important aspect of this entire process. What works with us? Although a service is there, what may stop general public from using it? Say, people who can benefit from it, don’t understand what it is. Our inputs help effective delivery of services.
Sharing our thought process and experiences helps shape services. What we feel and experience has great value and can be used to help others by feeding back to services. What worked or did not work. It’s important to start the discussion. When we speak and listen, it adds to our knowledge. Knowledge is power. We found ourselves more confident as we became part of discussions. We became aware of support available to us in difficult times. When we discuss, get involved, we know about new research, how we can take learning from other communities and we are not alone with our sufferings. Share if you like a service or aspect of Solihull, for the good work to continue. Share if you think some aspects need improvement. Its all in good faith. For benefit of all of us. In turn, services understand voice of general public and make necessary changes to support us. Stronger, resilient community is a prosperous community.
Currently we are exploring ways to encourage two-way discussions in general public. Facebook closed group, website forums, informal chats, live Facebook video. Understanding what would help us in joining the conversation. We would love to hear what works. All feedback welcome. We understand life is complex, but discussions help find ways!
With more children travelling independently to secondary schools, a transition meet is held annually for Yr 6 in our local junior school addressed by local Police Community Support officers (PCSOs). This time parents were invited too. It caught my attention when PCSO asked us, parents,’ At each transition meeting we speak to Yr 6 and refer to their discussions with parents regarding travel plans. It would be interesting to know, if you have these discussions?’
We requested them if we can share their tips with more parents and here we are sharing the key points discussed, mainly about communication and safety.
Discuss how your child will travel to and from school. Include lonely roads if discussed as only option available.
Parent and child can discuss a time child would reach home and what would parent and child do if delayed. How about, if they plan outing with friends after school, phone battery dies…
Also, action plan in emergencies can be discussed.
Emphasis was layed on safety of the child. It is better not to show off expensive products in public like phones, tablets…
In an unfortunate situation, surrounded by a gang asking for your phone, hand it in, leave to your safe place and ask an adult to report at 101. There is nothing more imporatnt than a child returning home safe.
It was reiterated to children, pick up your phone when parents call. They worry if you do not pick up the phone. Phone is given so that you are contactable if needed, for your safety. You being able to speak to friends because of it, is an added benefit.
This is information age and we can search about everything on internet. However, at every meeting what we gain is priceless. Each individual has a unique perspective that makes information interesting. Practical tips, helps raise confidence in using them.
If I may add, what made the transition meeting fun was children views on what they would do in a particular situation. Some children really looked up to setting up an action scene. There are no right and wrong answers but learnings. I learned to listen to my child’s views in our discussions. Though at times their views may not seem to be the wisest thing to do, it helps to know what they are thinking and guide them.
Wishing ‘Happy settling times ahead’ to all children joining secondary. Maintain communication channels with your child at all times. Leave a message here if you have any questions. Have fun !!!