HAND-SEND news

An introduction to the Chair of Hertfordshire Parent/Carer Involvement

HAND SEND news spoke to Helen Errington, Chair of the Hertfordshire Parent/Carer Involvement (HPCI) forum to find out more about HPCI and what her role entails.

"I keep thinking that I have only recently become Chair but it has already been nine months. My role since starting as Chair has been to look at how the Forum is functioning internally. We have just done a review of HPCI governance and some changes are starting to filter through. We now have two new part time members of staff and in the Autumn will be recruiting for more Directors to join the Board. We will also be trying to find more members for the forum and more Parent Reps.

I joined HPCI as a member many years ago – it made sense to me to be part of the Parent/Carer Forum in the place I have lived for the last 22 years, to find out about what is going on in Hertfordshire in the world of special needs. Parent Carer Forums nationally are recognised in the SEND Code of Conduct and are a group of parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) who work together with Education, Health & Social Care service providers. We work together to make sure that the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of our local children and young people with SEND and their families.

After a while I became a Parent Rep which allowed me to be trained to be able to represent HPCI at meetings and be involved in projects.. I mainly attend Hertfordshire County Council’s Preparing for Adulthood groups but in my role as Chair, I attend a variety of meetings. This can take up to six hours a week depending on the number of meetings that are scheduled. All Parent Reps can take on as much or as little as they can manage depending on their circumstances and I have been able to do more as my children have got older. HPCI is looking to recruit more parents to be trained as representatives, so if anyone wants to join us as a rep then keep a look out on the HPCI website for details. We’d be pleased to meet you.

I joined the HPCI Board of Directors in 2017 – there are currently six Directors including myself. We are all volunteers in the role of Director. (Parent Reps are paid for the time they spend preparing and attending meetings) We meet 6 - 7 times a year to decide the strategy for HPCI and we are also looking to increase the number of Directors on the Board – there will be more information about this and an advert on the HPCI website next month in September. In my role as Chair I also manage the staff of HPCI.

So what do I do in the time left over? I have two sons – one is away at university and the other is about to start a Foundation Degree at Chickenshed Theatre but will live at home and travel in each day. In the past I have been a Housing Officer, a Lecturer, worked at an inner London College, and been an independent supporter for KIDS. Currently I have my own small business specialising in orienteering & teaching navigation & work on expeditions. I work for Chancellor’s School in Brookmans Park, supporting their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme as well as for British Orienteering supporting volunteers to stage an international four day Orienteering festival held over the Easter weekend each year.

My hobbies include orienteering with the family and trying to keep my allotment free from weeds and full of vegetables and fruit! And of course I am a travel and social event worker for my young person with SEND."  Helen and her son Peter pictured above

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