1841. Jayne Evans
1842. Sarah Baker
Jayne Evans and Sarah Baker, from Wolverhampton, lead ‘Voice4Parents’, a community parent carer forum supporting over 4,000 parents and carers of children with special educational needs which has been instrumental in working with Wolverhampton City Council to improve services for children and young people with additional needs and their families.
‘Voice4Parents’ was initially set up as part of the council and a national programme of parent carer forums, bringing together parents and carers of children and young people under the age of 25 with special educational needs and utilising their firsthand experiences to help plan services across Wolverhampton. Following feedback from parents who wanted to come together as an independent forum, Sarah (who is Chair of the group) and Jayne (Vice-Chair) led ‘Voice4Parents’ in becoming a separate group, widening its reach in the process and developing new activities including a holiday programme for children and young people with disabilities. In response to the pandemic, the pair further increased the activities of the group to offer additional support to families in Wolverhampton, distributing hundreds of support and wellbeing packages, including digital tablets to help children with special educational needs access online learning during periods of school closure.
In a personal letter to Sarah, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to learn about ‘Voice4Parents’ and the community you have built, with Jayne, to support thousands of parents and carers of children with special educational needs.
“I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you have both distributed hundreds of digital tablets across the city, which came to the aid of so many children when they were homeschooling. Your work meant that thousands of people felt more connected during very challenging times.”
In a personal letter to Jayne, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Alongside Sarah, you have supported 4,000 parents and carers of children with special educational needs. This support has been a lifeline for families, particularly during the pandemic.
“At a time when so many children were being educated at home, your digital tablet deliveries helped families stay connected. You also kept your community together with virtual coffee mornings to alleviate isolation.”
Sarah and Jayne said:
“We are both delighted and feel very honoured to have been nominated – it was big surprise for us both.
“As we are both parents of children and young people with special educational needs (SEND), we really felt it was important for us to reach out to other families to offer support as the past few years has been so challenging for families whose children have SEND. As an independent forum we have been established for a good few years but mainly worked strategically. As the pandemic hit we wanted to offer a lot more support for families to help reduce isolation and to establish a good support network and also offer practical support in terms of digital poverty, leisure activities, sensory packs, wellbeing packs support grants, and virtual coffee mornings, and families have fed back that this has been a lifeline for them.”