An awards evening hosted by Bridget Jones co-star Sally Phillips was held in Coventry on May 18th to recognise the talents, stories and families of parent bloggers from the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) community. New Directions’ representatives Senior Manager Laura and Media Officer Abbi attended these aptly named Bloody Awesome Parents Awards (BAPS) at Windmill Village Golf Club and Spa and met with Sally, who recently fronted the BBC2 documentary “A World Without Down’s”. The BAPS are organised by two SEND associated organisations Bringing Us Together and My Family Our Needs to celebrate the bloggers’ valuable contribution to raising awareness of additional needs in the SEND community and in the wider society.
2017 winners include Don’t Be Sorry, Joseph And His Amazing Spectrum Coat, Mum On A Mission, Stories About Autism and PDA Society. Their thank you speeches described online therapy, over sharing and the freedom from inhibitions that blogging brings. Some winners expressed surprise that people had contacted them to let them know that they had brought them relief. One winner described blogging as getting things off his chest and providing an opportunity for friends and family to find out more about being an SEND parent at their leisure. Sally Phillips talked to double award winner Don’t Be Sorry about the bloggers need to keep integrity and how SEND parents need to constantly recalculate their plans.
Senior Manager Laura said, “It was a privilege to take part in this SEND bloggers awards celebration. There are everyday and exceptional lessons to be learned from supporting a child with SEND that brings insight and joy. Many thanks to the organisers for enabling New Directions to experience this event where the SEND community were given the opportunity to appreciate each other and let their hair down.”
The achievements of local Rugby businesses, charities and volunteers were celebrated once again at the annual Pride of Rugby Awards on Friday 12th May at Coombe Abbey Hotel. New Directions’ was the event’s nominated charity this year and representatives from our charity attended. The awards are supported by Cemex and hosted by Rugby FM. The evening’s raffle raised an impressive £1,615 for New Directions, which was also shortlisted as a finalist for the Rugby’s Pride Award. Many thanks go to all the generous guests who took part in the raffle and raised valuable funds toward supporting for local people at New Directions.
There was a fine dining experience for all the attendees where a short video played about New Directions. The awards ceremony followed and was presented by Rugby FM’s Jason Moss and Kirsty Leahy. The thankyou speeches were heartfelt and inspiring. Congratulations go to all the finalists and winners of the Pride of Rugby Awards for local businesses’ this year from our charity. The shortlists demonstrated just how much the local community has achieved over the past year. During the community awards, there was a standing ovation for a young Carer of the Year, Thomas Wood, who despite incredible challenges in his life including losing his father to suicide, manages to support his siblings with special needs as well as raising funds for other young carers and their families with Warwickshire Young Carers.
There was also recognition for Citizen of the Year, Joanne Finney who is the Learning Disability Partnership Board Rep for Rugby. Joanne was also a volunteer at New Directions day activities and opportunities service. A special mention goes to Rugby Autism Network who won a well-deserved Rugby’s Pride Award. The charity has provided signposting and services to more than 100 families through their discussion groups with a focus on attending safe and entertaining places. Its has supported more than 300 families in its 6 years. The awards evening was a remarkable success and a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of New Directions in the community. Our thanks go to the team at Rugby FM for their very welcome support, which has enabled our charity to experience this event which was an inspiration to us all.
Feedback from the people we support and their involvement is crucial to building stronger relationships, improving the quality of our services and shaping the future developments at New Directions. Our Residents’ Quality Group established in 2010 is one opportunity for residents to talk about the things that are important to them with members of the Board of Trustees who attend. The meetings take place regularly and everyone is welcome to take part. This lively user-led discussion group is a chance to have a voice, talk openly, be listened to and valued. Working together to make things happen is a vital element built on the foundation that individuals who receive a service are in the best position to help plan it and improve it. This ‘co-production’ approach helps New Directions to design something right in the first place that benefits everyone.
The trustees want to know about the people we provide support to, what is good about their lives and what they would like to change. The trustees at this group report back to New Directions’ CEO and the other board members and then translate ideas into actions. The people we support are experts by their experience and can awaken ideas that the charity may not have considered. The Residents Quality Group enables board members to get to know the people who use our services, everyone takes it in turn to speak and the meeting empowers the people we support to be influencers through their informal yet purposeful chat. Media Officer Abbi takes minutes at the meeting and creates an easy-read version distributed to every resident and tenant.
Abbi said, “The Residents’ Quality Meeting is a great example of successful two way communication between the board members and the individuals who use our services. The meetings are testiment to the co-production principles of equality, diversity, accessibility and reciprocity. The meetings increase the level of user-involvement, providing an honest exchange of views, key issues and lived personal experiences. This meeting demonstrates best practice, what works well in our services and why from the viewpoint of the individuals. I am delighted to be a part of these productive meetings that have promoted solidarity, developed the self-esteem of the people we support and provided a platform of equal opportunities. There is no “Them and Us” just “Us” working in partnership together to develop and drive up the quality of our services.”