As a local area we are committed to listening to the voice of children and young people, and working with them to secure good outcomes for Somerset’s children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).
Through forum meetings, social media, consultations and engagement activities we seek feedback on local services to help us improve them and to make sure they meet the needs of local families.
The Engagement and Participation Team
Somerset County Council has an Engagement and Participation team for SEND.
The team is made up of an Engagement and Participation Officer and Young Person’s Champions. The role of the team is to make sure that children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities are able to have their say on matters that affect them. Young People’s Champions also take part in professional meetings, including many SEND workstreams enabling children and young people’s voices to be at the centre of what we do.
The team runs the Unstoppables Young People’s Forum to increase the voice of children and young people with SEND in Somerset.
This group meets every month to help with decision making and to develop skills to prepare them for the future, these skills include
- Problem solving
- Group work
- Having a voice
- Decision making.
Here’s what one of our members, Nicole says about the group
‘I heard that the SEND team was setting up a group to make Somerset a better place for disabilities. So I went along to their tester day in Taunton. The next month they started a group and now we meet on the first Saturday of each month.
‘To start with we did some activities, such as living on a deserted island and reviewing documents for Somerset County Council. The thing I like about this group is that it does not matter about what disability you have, they worry about your opinions on things.
‘Now, a year and a half later, we have got a tight knit group. We’ve got a cool name and slogan, which is The Unstoppables – `we can’t be stopped’. Also at the same time we are learning life skills where we cook our lunch, which we all take part in the preparation of. Sometimes we get invited to events that Somerset County Council puts on, to help out and talk to new people who would like to join the group.
‘I love this group because it is about your opinions and I can be myself at the group.’
Over the last 6 months, the Unstoppables have worked on
- Various animations for different agencies, including an animation for the Graduated Response Tool which we created by consulting with Young People by asking them ‘If you need help with your learning, what can you expect?’. The animation featured all of the fantastic ideas and opinions that children and young people suggested. This animation was created with a huge amount of help from Nicole, one of our longstanding Unstoppables members
- Planned fun activities for consulting with Young People for the events we attended, such as: the Community Inclusion Activity Team Family Fun day and Somerset Parent Carer Forum Family Fun Day
- Our voices have been represented through our Engagement and Participation Officer giving our Lived Experiences on various strategic meetings
- Focusing on fun ways to recruit new members and broaden the voice of Young People with SEND
- Welcomed our new SEND Young Persons Champion, Gaby, to the team.
If you would like any more information about the team and the work they have done, please contact SENDParticipationTeam@somerset.gov.uk
And like our Facebook page for regular updates.
Could you be an Unstoppable?
Co-production with children and young people in Somerset
Co-production with children and young people in Somerset – YouTube video