Putting social care on the agenda for the fifth Welsh Assembly

Sense Cymru is a leading member of the Social Care and Well-being Alliance Wales (SCWAW) and I’ve had the privilege this year of Co-Chairing the alliance. Last week we had the opportunity to host an event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, home to the National Assembly for Wales, to raise the profile of our work amongst Assembly Members who joined the Assembly after the elections in May this year.

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Welsh Assembly election: what the political parties are saying to win your vote

On Thursday, 5 May this year the Welsh public will go to the polls to elect new Assembly Members, who’ll form a new Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government is responsible for Health, Social Care and Education, amongst other important areas of life in Wales. Most of us will use one or all of these vital services so making use of your vote has never been more important. Continue reading “Welsh Assembly election: what the political parties are saying to win your vote”

Playing with politicians

Child playing with toys at table

Government Ministers, glittery play-dough and switch-operated dancing teddy bears; what else could possibly bring these things together other than the Sense Cymru Play In at the Senedd?

This week, Sense Cymru invited parents, children, play providers and Assembly Members to join us at the Senedd – the home of Wales’ National Assembly – as part of Sense’s ongoing Play campaign. We took this opportunity to showcase the potential of play for children with Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI) by giving children and adults alike the opportunity to experience sensory play at first hand.

The Senedd’s Oriel, overlooking Cardiff Bay, was peppered with play stations, each with its own theme or remit relating to a particular form of play. We had play stations with:

  • Musical instruments, including flashing tambourines and reverberating percussion
  • Messy play, where there were squishy bags with hidden objects and play dough to encourage exploration through touch
  • A resonance board – a wooden that enables a child with MSI to experience vibrations and feelings, encouraging them to make use of the senses they have
  • Various toys with vibrations and lights
  • Switch operated toys and iPad apps to encourage choice and to learn about cause and effect

Learning for all? Changes to education in Wales for deafblind children and young people

This Autumn the Welsh Government are consulting on a draft piece of legislation to reform the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in Wales. They’re calling it the Additional Learning Needs system. The hope is that this new system will be more inclusive and enabling than the SEN framework. Support Sense Cymru by taking our joint action with NDCS Cymru to put forward your views on the changes.

This new ALN framework will see all children and young people aged 0-25 receive the same access to support to enable them to learn. This is in contrast to the current system that excludes children of pre-school age and the separate system for 16-21 year olds, which is complex and confusing, not to mention anxiety-provoking for young people and parents who have to wait – often far too long – to hear decisions about funding and placements.

Another big change is the end of the Statement of SEN. This is the legal document that so many parents fight for to give their child the legal right to the learning support they need. Instead of Statements, the government are proposing Individual Development Plans (IDPs). All IDPs will be statutory documents – this means that every child with ALN will have a legal right to the support listed in their IDP.

But there are big steps Sense Cymru wants to see taken forward in legislation that aren’t strong enough in the current draft bill. We want to make sure that the IDP takes an holistic view of the child’s ALN and practitioners from education, health and social care work together effectively.

For that reason we need to hear from you about the aspects of your learning, or your child’s learning, that really make a difference. We also need to hear about some of the challenges you face so that we can start to build a better system that overcomes these.

This week I’ve been hearing from the young people who are part of the Being Me! project in South East Wales. They told me about the important things they learn at college that enables them to be independent, to make choices about their lives and to work towards the careers they want in the future.

They also told me about the importance of specialist support to enable them to access their learning – this ranged from specialist equipment to support their reading, to one-to-one support from Learning Support Assistants, to friendly student supporters dotted around college who help you to find your way around.

At Sense Cymru we want to make sure that the new ALN system works for deafblind children, young people and their families. We want to hear about what matters to you so we can put your case across to decision makers. The louder our voice, the greater our chances of getting this system right.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) Cymru to create a forum where you can put forward your own views to the Welsh Government. We’ve written a template letter to the government highlighting Sense Cymru and NDCS Cymru’s main concerns but you can adapt this to include personal stories if you want. It won’t take you more than 10 minutes and you will have made a lasting impression. Please take this action now to support all deafblind children and young people in Wales get the learning opportunities they deserve.

The personal is political: or, why we need to hear from you

It’s still wintry outside but spring is already in the air – spring, that is, for the political parties here in Wales who are holding their annual spring conferences over the next few weeks.

Party conferences aren’t usually something the public feel is relevant to their everyday lives or something they want to get involved in. But, last weekend I went to the first of the Welsh political parties’ spring conferences and it got me thinking – and learning – about how I might be able to bring the personal into the political.

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