Lisa is one of our Family Research Ambassadors. She explains why she got involved and what she does as part of her role.
When I read the advert seeking parent carer involvement in a new research project I was very excited and applied. I was already a member of a local Parent Carer forum and thought this was another way that I could contribute to helping others navigate their way through the minefield that could be associated with advocating for a disabled child or child with SEN.
The project was a toolkit to help parent carers access statutory services. This could indeed be extremely useful! As the parent of a teenager with an Acquired Brain Injury, I had of course come in to contact with many statutory services and there were certainly strategies I had used successfully that perhaps I could share.
I was very honoured to have been chosen to become a Family Research Ambassador (FRA) for the toolkit project and it was refreshing for my opinion and experience to be so valued. All the FRA’s input was considered by the author of the toolkit, Luke Clements, and we certainly helped shape the final version of that document. Not only did I contribute but I also learned a lot about what actually was law, which did not always reflect what I had been told. It was quite fascinating.
We were also asked how we might contribute as the project moved ahead. I chose to participate in the workshops that followed the publication of the toolkit, aiming to train others to use it.
I co-presented a number of workshops around the country, delivering to professionals as well as other parent carers. I could talk with confidence about how the strategies within the toolkit really helped me in my personal situation and how they could be applied to their situation either personally or in their role supporting others. Supporting a young person with additional needs can be overwhelming at times, and seem relentless, but here at last was a genuinely useful tool that was rooted in the law and included tried and tested strategies. And the information is right there at your fingertips whenever you need it.