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After years of being involved with parent carer forums, I have made the decision to move on to a new challenge.

This decision has been hugely daunting, as despite any frustrations the role may have brought to me (as any role will occasionally do), it was also a role I knew well.  I was comfortable.

changeHowever, I am now taking on a new role working with Community Circles.  Circles are groups of people who come together and after discussing and thinking together come up with a common goal and then put together action plans to achieve that goal together.   Creating a Circle with a family who have children or young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or a Disability; often people who are excluded from aspects of society, – can look at how the people around that child or young person can help them to reach their full potential.  Creating roles for everyone involved in the circle is invaluable.

Often when a child with SEN or Disability is part of a family, the surrounding family members and friends can be confused as to what their role is or to be more precise, what they can do to support the family.  I know for me, as my children were diagnosed, I seemed to lose a chain of friends.  Later, I realised this was because they felt useless, or that they didn’t feel as if they had a purpose anymore.  If I had had a Circle at that time, I know there would still be friends around who have now moved on.  These friends needed to have a role or purpose in our life, something to do.

However, as you are going through this, you rarely sit down with everyone and talk about this.  You often don’t want to ask for something or your friends/family don’t know what to offer you.  This, then, can lead to social isolation and little support.  With that lack of support, as a family, you have to learn to cope with it alone.  This can work when you have status quo, however, whenever things change, you are suddenly in a sad place with no one to turn to and the isolation can become intolerable.

Helen Sanderson and Max Neill have put together a project called Community Circles, “exploring how to create Community Circles at scale, using person-centred practices, so everyone can benefit.”  I will be taking on the role of helping them to run a small pilot in Kent and also to develop this across the South of England.  I will be recruiting facilitators, families and organising training – all of which is something I love doing.

Can you imagine a role that would give you more satisfaction?  A role where you are helping children and young people to realise their potential and putting a support network around a child/young person and their family?

It is hugely exciting but also hugely daunting.    You can follow Community Circles and their progress on Facebook and Twitter.

I will be keeping my role at Special Needs Jungle (I love doing that and working with Tania), I am also taking on a few more small projects.  The forum had become virtually a full time role so stepping down has freed up so much time and as much as I often wish I had time to sit and watch daytime TV, I know that real life is much more exciting and rewarding than anything Jeremy Kyle has to offer.

So I am daring greatly and making some big changes in my life.  What about you?  Have you made any really big changes in your life recently?  What tips do you have?



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