A parent carer forum is a group of parent carers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disabilities. We work in partnership with those that provide and plan services for our children to make sure that they know what we need. Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum was formed in October 2012 and we have had a steering committee since May 2013.
Our aim is for high quality, cost effective services that meet the needs of the young people and their families. We do this by listening to the views and experiences of our members then feed this back to managers, commissioners and service providers. We are not a support group or a protest group but we aim to tell those that plan and deliver services what families think, what families need, what is or isn't important and what works or doesn't work.”
Who We Are
Steering Group and Staff Profiles
Karen is a mum to 3 beautiful and funny children; Mia, Lois and Noah. When Lois was born in December 2007 their family were unhappily and unwillingly thrust into the world of Special Needs. Over the course of Lois's short but complex life so far she has been diagnosed with severe quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, epilepsy and is registered as being sight and hearing impaired. However, those who know Lois know that her disabilities are not what defines her... it is her fun loving personality and wicked sense of humour that everybody falls in love with! Lois is educated within a local special needs setting and enjoys a very active social life, which includes accessing mainstream and special needs activities.
In 2013, as Karen struggled through this scary world looking for ways to help Lois and ensure she has the best chance to enjoy a happy and healthy a life as possible, she came across the Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum. She immediately recognised the good work being carried out and signed up as a Parent Rep. In January 2014 Karen officially joined the staff team as the Forum's Parent Participation Worker then later changed roles to become the Membership Secretary. In June 2016 Karen had the great honour of being elected Chair of the Forum and has enjoyed every minute... moving forward she's excited to see how she, and the forum, continue to play a pivotal role in shaping services for our children and young people.
Val has recently taken over from Lynn Hoppenbrouwers in the day-to-day running of BBPCF. Val joined BBPCF in 2014 and some of you may also know her from her work with Bedford Mencap, St John’s School and Marlins Special Needs Swimming Club.
She is mum to Alex (22) who has Dyspraxia and a Learning Disability. Alex attended Grange Academy and Bedford College. She now works part time with Beds Garden Carers and at a local supermarket and is enjoying earning (and spending) her own money! Val has a special interest in young people with additional needs as they transition into adult life.
She is enjoying her new role within BBPCF and looks forward to meeting you all at future events.
PARENT PARTICIPATION MANAGER
Mrunal is the East of England representative for the NNPCF Steering Group.
Mrunal’s most important job is being dad to Arun and Meri. Arun was born very prematurely. He has cerebral palsy, autism and an insatiable lust for life.
In his previous life Mrunal worked in the financial sector for 18 years. After leaving Cambridge University in 1992, he joined Coopers and Lybrand (now PWC) and qualified as a chartered accountant. In 1996 he joined Morgan Stanley as a project manager and worked in London and New York. In 2000 he joined Deutsche Bank and worked in strategic change management devising strategy and implementing large technology.
Lynn is a Steering Group Member and does consultancy work for BBPCF, she has worked for the forum since it started in 2012 and was previously Parent Participation Manager. She was the main carer for her daughter Iona until she passed away in 2013, aged 12. Iona was severely physically disabled with complex needs including Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and Communication Difficulties but who also had a shocking sense of humour, a love of all things girly and a musical preference for boy bands and rappers!
I am the father of two wonderful children ( Libby 4 & Jake 2) and partner to my fiancé Lisa.
In 2012 when Libby was born she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia. She also has hydrocephalus, severe epilepsy and is blind. This completely changed our lives overnight. Despite all of these conditions Libby is an absolute ray of sunshine and copes extremely well with all of her complex issues. She is the strongest person I know and smiles every day.
I am passionate about trying to help other parents and carers who cannot or don’t know how to access the services they need and is why I want to try and make the changes through the work with BBPCF.
I am currently secretary for the BBPFC. I have lived in Bedford for 14 years moving here with my wife and two young sons. My eldest is an Insulin dependent diabetic, an example of a hidden disability. He also had several issues whilst in the education system resulting in being in receipt of a full statement of needs. This lead me into to becoming involved in his education, serving as a school governor and Chair of Governors at a variety of schools across Bedford, while I tried to understand what support he would get or was supposed to get. This also lead me into teaching, after spending 28 years in Banking and Finance, returning to University to qualify as a Primary Teacher. My interest in how those with more challenging issues navigate the education system lead me to being elected to serve on The Children and Young Peoples Select Committee as well as gaining experience on school admissions panels.
COMMUNICATIONS & ENGAGEMENT CO-ORDINATOR
Kelly's role is to ensure we communicate with you about what we have been doing and developing new ways for both our parent carer members and our associate members to get involved in the work that we do.
Kelly is a mother of 4 and was thrown into the Special Needs world in 2010 when her daughter Sophie was born. Sophie has Down Syndrome, Epilepsy, Chronic Lung Disease, Global Development Delay and is registered blind. Kelly has learnt a lot about the special needs world since Sophie was born and so is very excited to now be working for Beford Borough Parent Carer Forum.
Jo is Mum to Neve and Imogen. Neve has a chromosome 18 part duplication, a rare condition with approx. 350 in the world. She has severe global development delay and learning difficulties. Neve has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Although Neve Is able to walk short distances she uses her pink wheelchair, Neve is non verbal but uses some sign and also PECS as a communication tool but is very good at making it very clear what she wants. She is a very happy little girl with a cheeky streak to her. Neve has been going to St Johns since 2009 when she was 3. Imogen attends Oakley Lower School and is very sporty and plays for our village football team. Jo joined the Bedford Borugh Parent Carer Forum Steering Committee in the very begining in October 2012 and has never looked back. She has been vice chair for 2 years.
Jo's job is a local childminder which she's been doing for nearly 4 years and she minds another disabled boy from St Johns. She is on the Mencap Management committee and is Chair of The SJSSA (PTA) of St johns school.
Jo has watched BBPCF grow from the very beginning in 2012 till today and she has loved every minute of it. Being part of being able to help make changes for our children is a honour and a pleasure. It can be very challenging but Jo is always up for a challenge. It is also very rewarding. Jo feels our coffee mornings have become a great success and meeting other parents/carers/grandparents is lovely. She feels honoured to be part of such a special organisation.