Sarah and Donna are parents to children and adults with broad and complex needs. This gives them a unique and essential depth of understanding, personal knowledge and hands on experience. Both have a determination to make the future brighter for others and hold an enhanced DBS certificate.
They have experience with the following conditions and difficulties:
It is living with these conditions that allows them to have an insight into the complexities and skills required to meet the individual needs of the client, relate to them and support so that they can access the services parent/carers/young people are rightly entitled to.
Both have successfully navigated the system for Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) for their children, have appealed decisions, attended SEN tribunal, worked extensively with the Local Authority, social services, including the Family Group Conference service and have knowledge of working with multi-disciplinary teams, including health and social care.
Sarah and Donna have successfully worked on previous projects together, mainly the Aspire Free School – an ambitious and large-scale four-year plan to develop a special needs school for young people with autism in Swale, Kent. This involved extensive communication with parents, service providers, the Department for Education, charities, councillors, MPs and project managing a team. They also assisted in developing a support group for parent/carers when a need for the service was identified in the local area.
Sarah feels strongly about young people with autism and their special needs being met in the right environment; ensuring the right support is given in order for them to reach their full potential. She has two children, one studying for his A Levels and planning his future in university. The other studying in a small independent school, after failed placements in both mainstream and special schools.
Sarah is a former councillor and cabinet member for Health & Wellbeing. She was a member of the Local Children Partnership Board, District Children’s Advisory board and Kent Health & Wellbeing board and Budget Task force group. Safeguarding and Leisure also fell under her remit. . Before having children, she worked in finance.
Donna has a passion for equality, inclusion and diversity. She feels that by empowering parents with knowledge, they are better able to make decisions for their family. She has five children, all with their own needs. Her children have attended special, independent and mainstream schools. Two are successfully in full time employment, one studies at university and works part time around studies and two are still in school.
Donna has been to Special Educational Needs Disability tribunal, worked extensively with a variety of schools, social services including safeguarding and attended Care Education Treatment Reviews. She has been a carer at home for her children whilst working on other projects to continuously develop her skill set. She is currently studying a distance learning course in child psychology and special educational needs Diploma, levels 2,3,4.