Who Cares? We Care

This month we are showcasing some of the supportive communities in our network, all of which offer so much to families in the UK.  Our second blog for this month comes from Lynne Barton of Entrust Care Partnership.

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In 2013 our organisation was set up as a response to the aspirations expressed by families caring for children, young people and adults with disabilities, additional or specific needs. People told us that they wanted services which they could trust, which were flexible and demonstrated a warmth for those closest to them, and our three Directors all have a wealth of experience in this field. All the money that we raise provides direct services for the benefit of disabled children, young people, adults, and families.

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Our regular activities include a Toddler Group in Harbury, Leamington for parents and carers and children under 5 years old; Play & Stay sessions to bring together parents and carers whose child has recently received a diagnosis or identification of a disability or additional need.  We hold these in local Children’s Centres; Disability Awareness training that we hold in partnership with Family Voice Warwickshire – provided to professionals across the UK; a Life Skills Group for young adults with disabilities to support them to fulfil their goals and aspirations; Let’s Get Healthy sessions covering physical activity and healthy eating during school and college holiday periods.

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You can see weekly updates about our groups and activities, including the Open Door Café in Hampton Magna – on our Facebook page.

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In addition to all of this, we have been particularly busy this summer with events and workshops. Our Who Cares? We Care sessions have been so well received, topics have included Sleep & Self Care and Healthy Living 24/7.

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In June we hosted a music festival aimed at young people over twelve years old, and then in July we held our Celebrating Children event.  This was a celebration of the lives disabled children, their siblings and parents, their contribution to our society and the joy they bring to everyone.

It was a joyful celebration of children whatever their ability and an opportunity to applaud all parents and carers for the fabulous care they give 24/7. It felt like a family party relaxed, chilled and no one worrying about saying to their child “don’t do that”, described as a freedom perhaps not found elsewhere.

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We have also been able to hold workshops with Aimee Mann on the topic of Getting Your Voice Heard – How To Be A Velvet Bulldozer.  A parental perspective on building emotional resilience.

Some of the families that we support have kindly shared with us their experiences:

“Entrust Care Partnership are an incredible organisation who genuinely know how to reach out to families of children with additional needs. As a carer I have personally benefited from one of their training courses which was superb and I have attended two of their events for families which were exceptionally organised. They understand the challenges parents face and tailor their courses to empower them to meet these head on. Their events are innovative, child focused and peaceful allowing parents to relax and children to have fun.”

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“When my youngest child was born, it was a hectic time with three small children under the age of four. Especially as my oldest has special needs. My husband’s job meant it wasn’t possible for him to be around much at crucial times of day. Evenings were particularly challenging for me so Entrust Care Partnership came to the rescue. They provided me with support from a volunteer to spend time with my son and at times my little girl too. It gave me the chance to get their tea and breastfeed my newborn with the knowledge and comfort that my eldest was safe and engaged. It was a life saver.”

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Please do follow us on Facebook for information about our regular Coffee & Chat sessions, all of our workshops and events.

 

Lynne Barton

July 2018

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Forging Families

This July we are so thrilled to be able to showcase some of the supportive communities in our network, all of which offer so much to families in the UK.  Our first blog for this month comes from Rachel Ellie Gardner, the founder of Forging Families.

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Six years ago I became chair of Sheffield MSLC – Maternity Services Liaison Committee. We did some great work together with The Jessop’s Wing, the Health Visiting Team, Public Health and LIGHT. Our work was mainly focused on Maternal Mental Health. We had amazing support from the families of Sheffield and soon became a force to be reckoned with. The main work we did was through our surveys, which had an average response of 1,400 Sheffield people. The voices of Sheffield families were listened to at each turn and changes were put into place by Public Health, The Jessop’s Wing, Health Visiting Team and all involved in maternal mental health. The biggest change we helped achieve was helping to create a Maternal Mental Pathway for all Health Care Professionals and for mums, we were very proud to be a part of this. Another huge achievement was having our first ever poster, made with the voices of over one hundred woman and then put together by a sub-committee of ten women, put in the Sheffield Red Book. The poster was called ‘Debunking Myths’ and proved very popular with mums.

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Two years ago the women in our MSLC group came up with the idea of putting together a video showing women and men who had struggled with their mental health during the perinatal (pregnancy, birth and the first year) period, but come through the other side to give hope and inspiration to families who were currently struggling.

The Clinical Commissioning Group were delighted with this idea but money was very tight that year and there was a possibility that the MSLC would have no funding at all. This was devastating to me and after two days of being deeply sad that our powerful work was going to stop I decided to do something about it. I turned to our mums on our facebook group and told them of our situation. I was contacted within the hour by a wonderful lady who told us of possible external funding if we became a charity. I immediately said “yes yes yes.”

The first step for me was talking to the mums and dads about this new idea of becoming a charity and we ended up all agreeing that this was a phenomenal idea. The fabulous Jodie Booth came up with the name ‘Forging Families’ – a name that immediately embodied our steel city but also that of strengthening and building up families. The name was perfect.

Then began the very, very long process of becoming a CIO – a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. After a huge amount of stress (that was mostly caused by my inability to follow simple instructions) and then the help and support of Sarah Birch we finally became a CIO.

We became Forging Families on the 3rd October 2016. I searched for the very best of trustees, Laura Watkins, Rachel Siviter, Rosie Knowles, Sarah Birch, Lizzie Rolls, Laura Neasmith, Alice Farina, Louis Randall, Jodie Booth and Roxie Marshall.

We were given £7,000 from the Kathleen Hannay Memorial Fund to do two pieces of work and we were ready to start. Over time our trustees changed and Sarah Birch became a charity officer within the charity. Rosie Knowles changed from being a trustee to being our attachment adviser and we have lots of work to do together. Very sadly Jodie left as our Chair due to personal reasons and Roxie Marshall left due to time pressures.

We still have our core group with Sarah Birch leaving as charity officer and becoming Chair and us inviting Sam Bennett to be our Treasurer.

The team was all set. I was the CEO, which is the fancy name for Lead of Forging Families and I love Forging Families and am deeply proud of the work I have done for Forging Families.

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Rachel Ellie Gardner, CEO Forging Families

We quickly became known for our posters and in following our original ‘Debunking Myths’ poster, the majority of our posters were written with the words from our mums and dads to other mums and dads. Our posters give advice, a community feel, an idea of going back to raising children ‘as a village’ and we have made over 50 posters for our families. You can find them on our Facebook page or on our website.

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Our work quickly became much more than the two pieces of work we had started with and within a year we had worked closely with the Clinical Commisioning Group and Public Health to help improve services. We also had several of our posters used within the Royal College of General Practitioners mental health section.

We focused on our posters giving advice and hope and we did our Forging Families videos of mums and dad mental health.

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Since then we have had an astoundingly successful conference in February 2018 regarding maternal and paternal mental health and well-being. The conference had both excellent speakers and also workshops in the afternoon to get professionals and families together to share ideas on common themes.

In summary, our objectives are to promote and preserve good health among parents and children living in Sheffield and the surrounding area, in particular but not exclusively by:

a) Providing information, advice, support and a signposting service to parents during pregnancy, childbirth, the postnatal period and early parenthood.

b) Working with statutory bodies and healthcare professionals to assist in improvement in the provision of maternity and maternity-related health services.

You can read more about our current projects on our website, including our Dads to Dads website, and work with families from ethnic minorities.

We are extremely honoured to be giving a video presentation of our research into the maternal mental health of ethnic minority women in Sheffield at the international conference ‘From Birth to Health – Towards Sustainable Childbirth’ in Lisbon this September.  This is being done in collaboration with the wonderful professors at Sheffield Hallam University.

Forging Families shouts with the voice of hundreds and hundreds of parents to help shape changes in the maternity services of Sheffield.  Please do get in touch if you would like to be involved!

 

Rachel Ellie Gardner

July 2018

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