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SEND Alliance Cumbria - the official parent carer forum for parents and carers of children and young people with additional needs and disabilities in the beautiful county of Cumbria!
We are delighted to welcome you to SENDAC's very first newsletter!
We are hoping to publish at least one newsletter a term, telling you about all the work SENDAC is doing on behalf of parents and carers right across the county. 

We hope that you enjoy reading what we have been doing in our first few months as your new parent carer forum.
SENDAC news!
How SENDAC was formed

We began the process of forming Cumbria's new Parent Carer Forum right back in January, as a group of concerned, experienced parents and carers from all around the county. Cumbria didn't have an official parent carer forum, and we knew that created a big gap. There was no central place for families to raise concerns, no group to gather feedback on SEND services, and no mechanism to deliver these to the Local Authority and health services, or work in collaboration with them on behalf of children and families for change.

We met online over several months, supported by an adviser from Contact, the national charity for families with disabled children, and from these meetings SEND Alliance Cumbria was born! SENDAC's management and steering group are all parent carers of children and young people with SEND, and we are all volunteers who give up our time to try and make a positive difference.

What SENDAC does

SENDAC aren't a support group as such, although we will certainly signpost families to other groups and services where appropriate. The role of SENDAC is to reach out to families and listen to your concerns and stories. From these we get an overall view of what is happening for SEND families, both what is working well and what is definitely not. 

Armed with this knowledge, our job is to take this information to the decision makers within the local authority and the NHS (and other services where appropriate), and work with them to make improvements so that things get better for our children. 

Over the last few months we have been working hard to build good relationships with key decision makers in Cumbria County Council, the NHS and Cumbria's SEND Improvement Programme. We now have regular meetings scheduled with them throughout the coming year, and have already had two meetings with them to begin the process of working together to make sure your voices are heard and your concerns are acted on, using the priorities set by parents and carers in the survey we put out over the summer (more on that below)!

How SENDAC will keep parents and carers informed

We will put together a newsletter at least once a term to keep you informed about the work that we are doing on behalf of all parents and carers. The newsletter will be sent to all SENDAC members and shared on social media.
We also have a SENDAC Facebook page which you can follow to keep up to date on all things SEND related. Follow SENDACs Facebook page.

How to join SENDAC or find out more

Membership of SENDAC is open to all parents and carers of children and young people with SEND aged 0 to 25. Your child doesn't need to have a diagnosis, and membership is free. Being a member of SENDAC doesn't involve any commitment of your time, you can be as active or other wise as is suitable for you. If you just want to receive our emails, that's fine. If you would like to help us run coffee mornings, speak to other parents in your local area on our behalf, or even get involved in influential meetings and the steering group, then we would love to see you and you would be very welcome.

You can become a member or find out more by emailing 

We welcome parents from right across the county, but are particularly under represented by parents and carers from the Barrow, Eden and Copeland areas. We would be especially delighted to hear from anyone in these districts who could volunteer even a small amount of time to help ensure our forum is inclusive of the whole of Cumbria, and that everyone's voices influence our work.
SENDAC Priorities Survey Results
Over the Summer many of you will have seen our SENDAC Priorities Survey. Thank you to everyone who completed it. The survey has helped us identify the priorities that parents and carers want SENDAC to raise on their behalf.

The results

We received a total of 168 responses, and you told us that Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) are your number one priority at the moment.

The SENDAC steering group has now met with the SEND Partners (Cumbria County Council and the NHS clinical commissioning groups) to tell them about your concerns and start to work together on behalf of parents to push for the improvements we all need to see.

The full list of issues in order of priority as determined by the survey is as follows:
  1. EHCPs
  2. School/education setting training in additional needs and disabilities
  3. Autism spectrum condition diagnosis
  4. Mental health support
  5. Support for violent and challenging behaviour
  6. Preparing for adulthood
  7. Short breaks and respite care
  8. School transport

Next steps

Initially, SENDAC will work to address your top three priorities. Parents and carers told us that EHCPs are your top priority at the moment. SENDAC have met with the SEND Partners to raise this. In response to your top issue, please look out for the following resources and opportunities coming up in the New Year:
  • Dedicated on-line sessions for parents and carers on EHCPs with senior leaders from the local authority and the NHS. These sessions will be supported by SENDAC and SENDIASS, and will be an opportunity to dig deeper into which aspects of EHCPs families are struggling with, and to begin to work together to find solutions and make improvements.
  • Priority webpage, hosted by SENDAC, which will focus on FAQs and all things EHCP.
  • EHCP focused training workshops for parents and carers facilitated by SENDAC.
  • EHCP support resources, in collaboration with SENDIASS.
  • Dedicated SENDAC members webpage with access to useful documents, resources and web-links, all in one place so parents don't have to go hunting for information.

Please remember, we are all volunteers, so not all of these things will happen at once. We will be working hard in the background to bring these resources to you as soon as we possibly can.

EHCP ISPEA training session, free for SENDAC members, was a great success

Members also had the opportunity to join the SENDAC steering group for a training day on EHCPs with IPSEA. IPSEA is an independent provider of special education advice. They provide in-depth training to parent carers and SEND practitioners. Several members joined the session, and the feedback was that they found it very helpful, and most felt more confident to advocate for their child and their EHCP as a result of the training.

SENDAC are hoping to host more free training for members on different SEND related topics over the coming year, so look out for information on these landing in your in-box and on the Facebook page and website.
Newsletter Regular Features
SENDAC want these newsletters to be as useful as possible to our members, so we would love to hear from you about what you would like them to contain.

We will have the following sections in each edition, but please let us know if there is anything else you would like us to include:
  • SENDAC news - an overview of what we are currently working on
  • Round up of upcoming events and opportunities
  • Useful information from the world of SEND
From all the SENDAC Team, we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you all in 2022.
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SEND Alliance Cumbria · The Office · Mardale Road · Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9EH · United Kingdom

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