Running a parents forum

18. Andrew Robinson (Oldham)
19. Elaine Stoneman (Oldham)

A couple from Oldham took over Oldham's parent carer forum, for families of children with additional needs and disabilities, and increased its membership 13-fold in four years.

10 Downing Street

Andrew and Elaine Robinson took over the running of the parents forum and established Parents of Oldham in Touch (POINT) to support families of children with additional needs and disabilities after their own experiences of accessing appropriate services to support their son Joshua (14) who has autism.

Andrew and Elaine found that there was a lack of support for families of children with additional needs in their area. So they decided to do something about and established Parents of Oldham in Touch (POINT), and took over the running of Oldham’s parent Forum, from Oldham Council.

As parents themselves Andrew and Elaine knew that with the right support, other families would not have to go through the same struggles they experienced. They have encouraged many more parents to attend POINT and as a result of their efforts, the group has increased in size from 50 to around 650 members.

The weekly family sessions are focussed on celebrating what the children can do rather on their disabilities and enable the whole family to access quality time together in a non-judgemental, supportive environment. PONT now provides a unified voice for parents of children with special needs. The group has forged a positive relationship which Oldham Council and POINT members are helping to shape quality, appropriate and accessible services for children with additional needs. 

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Andrew and Elaine have done an incredible job running Parents of Oldham In Touch, increasing its membership 13-fold and offering new support to families of children with additional needs and disabilities. I am delighted to be recognising Andrew and Elaine as Points of Light.”

Andrew and Elaine said:

“It is an absolute honour to receive this award. We feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to build and develop the work of POINT are grateful to our local partners and our wider volunteer group who have helped to ensure POINT and all our members are at the heart of the decision making and local service development.”

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said:

“Many congratulations to Andrew and Elaine. There are many hundreds of parents, children and families across Oldham who have benefited from their hard work over the last few years and so it’s richly deserved that they have been recognised with this UK Points of Light award.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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