Christmas seems such a long time ago now! Santa did pop by to tell stories over Zoom and we’re very grateful to him for making the time! We had some lovely comments from Parent Carers and children who really enjoyed the stories he shared.
Michelle and I did take some much welcomed time off over Christmas but kept an eye on emails and social media. As Parent Carers it’s all too easy to just keep on keeping on and even we need reminding that time away from the day job is valid and needed. We hope that Christmas, as different as it may have been to other years, was kind to you and that you were able to spend time with your families.
I’m not sure many of us expected fully to be back into home learning at the beginning of term, it all came up on us rather quickly! We remember well the challenges of the first lockdown but this one has bought new ones and we are always here to help you face them. Our Facebook group has been a real place of support over these last few weeks and I am grateful to be part of it. Our children have been asked to jump into online learning and we’ve heard from many of you just how hard that’s been . Not just because of the challenges of technology but the changes that our children have to navigate, not being in their usual school or classroom with familiar faces. One parent described their child as being like Kevin McAllistar from Home Alone when asked to join in on zoom – imagine the movie poster with a child screaming whilst cupping their hands round their face and you’ve got it! (I can well believe that some of us Parent Carers look like that by the end of the day!) If your children are finding it a challenge we would encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with your school, reasonable accommodations can still be made to help your child with their home learning.
Here at PCF HQ, still a desk in the dining room for now, things are as busy as ever! Our first order of business was a meeting with Mental Health Commissioners to discuss the challenges that Parent Carers face accessing support for our children, particularly those in key stage 1 but more broadly long waiting times, courses that parents are asked to attend and those we might find helpful. It felt like a positive meeting and our hope is that it is the beginning of a bigger conversation. We’re always open to your comments and feedback so that we can share with Commissioners what it’s really like to try and access good mental health support for our children and young people. In a similar vein we met with the head of the Education Inclusion Service and some of her team to discuss Educational Psychology and Advisory teaching. We’ve agreed that regular meetings will be helpful to both of us and that the views of parent carers need to be heard. We look forward to working together and inviting Parent Carers to be part of that process in the coming months.
The second week of January was all about Board Meetings. The Carers Partnership Board met on Wednesday 13th. If you want to read more about this board you can find details here Carers Partnership Board – Gloucestershire County Council At this latest board we said goodbye to the outgoing Chair and welcomed a new one so it is an exciting time for the board. “The Carers Partnership Board has an important role in Gloucestershire to raise awareness of matters relating to Carers and the current support available to them, which we are continually seeking to improve. We wish to raise the profile of Carers across our county, ensuring Carers are identified early and making the support of Carers “everyone’s business”. The Board will work towards embedding Carers voice in all service redesign and strategies across our system, ensuring we regularly engage with Carers, commissioners, providers and partner agencies “ Nick Relph – Outgoing Chair of the Carers Partnership Board. As a Forum we represent the views of Parent Carers at these meetings.
I attended the Schools Forum meeting on Thursday 14th, a meeting which is available to watch in real time on the web! If you want to watch it you can view it here Gloucestershire Schools Forum – Thursday 14 January 2021 2.00 pm – Gloucestershire County Council you can also check out all the minutes and documents from this and previous meetings. The latest meeting looked at several areas of finance which may be of interest. We are pleased, as a Forum, to have Parent Reps who are able to attend these meetings. If this is something you would be interested in doing please get in touch! There are lots of meetings which we could be involved with that our children would benefit from, we need your support to be able to cover them all. They’ll be more about how you can get involved over the coming weeks.
We’ve been having more conversations with Parent Carers about the impact of the Closure of Hop Skip Jump and more broadly the impact of lockdown on your caring situations. We want to hear from you so that we can raise the issues that really matter with the County Council. You can get in touch with us by email at email@example.com or through our Facebook group, (2) Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum Discussion Group | Facebook The group is only open to Parent Carers and you’ll be asked to answer a few short questions in order to join. We want to ensure its a safe space for Parent Carers and to continue to be a supportive place to come and meet, albeit virtually, with others in similar positions.
The weekend gave us a Snow Day! We were able to share the view from our window with our friends at Gloucestershire Carer Hub. Don’t forget to register as a Carer with them if you’ve not already done so and complete our membership form too. Both are free and really do help to make sure there is a true picture of how many Carers there are in the county. Perhaps more importantly just now is making sure you are registered as a Carer with your GP. Carers are now recognised as being a priority group for the Covid Vaccine schedule so it’s worth ensuring your medical record is up to date and reflects your caring role. If for any reason you have difficulty doing that Gloucestershire Carers Hub can send you a letter to show your GP.
As we go to Press the Government has announced that schools are likely to remain closed until at least the 8th March so PCF HQ will continue to be working from home. We’re still here for you wherever we are! I do think that’s enough from me for now, see you next month for another update. Stay safe and do get in touch if you want to share your views.