As a parent of a child with SEND I know only too well how difficult it is to try and navigate your way through a complicated system to achieve the right support for your child - and that was why, when I saw the advert for advice line volunteers, I jumped at the chance. 

I hoped that the skills I had acquired through my employment to date would be of benefit to IPSEA and the parents that get in touch. I was a bit worried about whether I would be able to commit to the number of hours required per week. You see, I work part-time (well 30 hours a week) and when I’m not working I’m either attending a meeting or appointment with the school; local authority; hospital; CAMHS…the list is endless! AND I have a younger daughter, a husband and a schnauzer that needs a lot of walking too! But I applied and was accepted. For the first time in ages (15 years in fact), it was personal enrichment for me. I enjoyed the online learning modules and going ‘back to school’ for two days (even if it was the weekend). 

Since my training I have started to take advice line calls. The fact that you get some information from the parent in advance is a life line. I’m one of those people who likes to be prepared! It’s also great to know I have the legal team on hand to help out if I ever need them.

The issues raised by the parents resonate with me: “mainstream has failed my child”; “the school doesn't understand”; ‘they’re not meeting his / her needs”; but for me it is a distraction from my reality. It is so rewarding to think that I have helped someone deal with an often difficult and emotive situation (or at the very least been a listening ear). 

I cannot wait to get stuck in and take more calls. We all know that budgets are being cut and that children with SEND are not getting the support they need. To be part of a charity that can actually make a difference is possibly one of the best decisions (aside from having my children) that I have made to date.

Claire

A SEND parent and volunteer