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!
We are a volunteering group and have been volunteering individually at local schools for several years now. So, we were excited to meet Esther (from Empower, part of Engage Team), Team Lead for Volunteering in Solihull. What stood out during our conversation were the confidence courses running for general public at three levels. For example, I have never worked and am low on confidence. I call up on 0121 709 7000 Enagage Team. Well I did call up to be answered by a kind voice I must say 🙂 I then share what I am looking for. Within 2 weeks team member assigned to me contacts me with next steps.
These confidence courses or the training modules can help one to feel self-confident, recognising our valuable skills. If then interested we can learn more about volunteering and eventually if desired we can look up for jobs. At each step support is available for upscaling confidence in the community. We can find Volunteering Opportunities at https://do-it.org/
There are mentoring schemes available to support identified young people or a small group of young people to share skills and raise aspirations. We are looking for mentors with skills like fishing, sports, playing an instrument. Teaming up with mentors would help engage and inspire young people.
We would love to share this information with more of us. However, we all can play an important role here. When you read this share any questions that come to you, with the forum (Facebook, Twitter, Email at firstname.lastname@example.org) What happens next? How does this work? I can’t just call on 0121 709 7000. All these are valid queries and help the system to be more effective. These are not ‘Is it only me?’ questions. These conversations help us all.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
We would like to invite parents and carers to our next public meeting on Thursday 16th June 2016 10.00 am-12.00 noon at Encore formerly known as Arts Complex Cafe, Theatre Square, in front of Solihull Library. Let’s meet. It is an informal meeting to listen to what matters to Solihull parents and share what we did in 2015-16. Plese let us know if you would be joining us, to help estimate numbers. Feel free to come with friends. We would be happy to personally invite members of parent groups. Please contact us. We cover all areas of parenting including financial support as it helps improve life chances of children. Hopefully, by meeting each other we feel more confident to share concerns or feedback in future to improve services in Solihull and make a difference!