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.”
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 !!!
We recently spoke to Urban Heard, a youth-led community interest company that works with young people to
implement prevention and
provide an effective solution to risky behaviours
and attitudes of young people in today’s world.
They work on unique 3 staged model.
Deliver workshops on youth lifestyle issues like alcohol, drugs
Recruit and train young people to equip them with skills to engage with other young people
Organise community events to engage young people and raise awareness about different issues affecting young people
Their recent projects include alcohol, legal highs, cannabis, mental health, gambling, healthy relationships and sexual health. They can be contacted at Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 0121 679 8575
It was good to know what a difference young people of Solihull are making. As a parent puts it ‘It’s very POSITIVE’
Keep up the good work! We would love to share it with more parents…
When our child first enters school, health visting advice and support is transferred from the Health Visiting Service to the School Health Service. School Nurses are trained and specialise in children health and development. They support on wide range of issues and work in partnership with other public health specialists. Each school (excluding private) within Solihull has a dedicated School Nurse. They do confidential drop in session at all schools, termly at each primary school and fortnightly at secondary schools.
They can be contacted 09.00am to 05.00pm, Monday to Friday throughout the year, including school holidays.
Tel: North Solihull 0121 770 1919 South Solihull 0121 746 4550 Twitter: @SolSchNurses
Posters here give more information about them. We can reach them through schools or independently. In case of concerns about our children’s health, development or behaviour speak to them. Let us know, if you have any questions in reaching out to them. Share this information with other parents you know. It can save some sleepless nights…
Young people are our future and we attended Young Solihull AGM to get to know more. It was fascinating to meet the group. Theo Thompson from the team shared work by various youth groups and the vision of community TV which would display what youth groups in the community do and motivate others to join. He emphasised use of social media to compliment other ways of publicity in community work as most people are on their mobiles these days.
MAD House team was represented by Nicola Brady. They are doing a phenomenal work in community development by providing provision for 11-18 years in the field of Music, Art and Dance.
We then met Wesley Thomas from Aspired Limited. They build up practical skills for young people interested in music, DJ services. They provide accreditions in the field and help young people find jobs. Finding jobs has been a challenge.
We also had an update from Early Help team. They can be contacted at 0121 709 7000. Direct Work team provides focussed support to young people with child sexual workers and youth offending team with them. Community Development wing provides support to already exisiting community groups those serve children, young people and families. Community Capacity team works to build up skills in the community.
The evening had a perfect ending by a video made by young people. They shared what young people in Solihull like and not like about Solihull. They were confident and we can move ahead by listening to and working with them.
Andy Giles, SMBC then shared how Early Help is everyone’s business. Several consultations have taken place over the year http://socialsolihull.org.uk/earlyhelp/ Here comes our part by sharing our views. If we had an issue in our family – financial or realtionship or concerning our children, where will we turn for information and support? More questions can be found here Early Help Questions for Parents Some people go to family/friends, some search on-line, while its harder for lot of us to accept there is a concern. Speaking to someone, could be a step forward towards reducing stress in our lives. What information would you need and where would you like to find it? Share your views and be part of shaping Early Help in Solihull…
Solihull Job Centres will start to take claims for Universal Credit from the 18th May 2015. The initial claims will be very low for the first year as they will only come from newly unemployed, single working age people.
We understand that there will be approximately 200 people per month going onto universal credit with less than 5% expected to need additional support to claim Universal Credit on line, get a bank account and help with money and debt advice. Processes, communications and training to assist colleagues and partners to help or advise customers are currently being finalised.
The next groups to move onto Universal Credit will be newly unemployed working age couples and customers with children. These are not expected until next year.
We do not have a date as yet for the transfer of our 12,000 housing benefit customers onto Universal Credit but we do not expect this to happen until at least 2017. For more information on Universal Credit please visit www.solihull.gov.uk/welfarereform
We are also excited to have Alison McGrory, Lead for Welfare Reform and Universal Credit, SMBC, at our next meeting at 10am on Fri 19th June 2015. Please join us. Lets discuss it together!