Hundreds attend conference in Norwich for families of children with special educational needs

A conference organised by Family Voices was attended by hundreds of parents of children and young pe

A conference organised by Family Voices was attended by hundreds of parents of children and young people with special educational needs. Pic: Dan Grimmer. - Credit: Archant

Being a parent of a child or young person with a special educational need or disability can be a stressful and isolating experience.

But a conference in Norwich, attended by hundreds of people aimed to demonstrate that there is help out there, while impressing on professionals how crucial the views of parents and carers is in providing services.

Saturday's conference, at the John Innes Centre at Norwich Research Park, was organised by Family Voice. the independent parent carer forum for Norfolk.

The organisation represents the views of parent carers of children and young people with special educational needs or disability (SEND) to decision-makers and service providers.

There are 2,500 children and young people in Norfolk on the Norfolk Register of Disabled Children and Young People, but professionals believe there are many more who are not on that voluntary register.

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The conference, now in its seventh year, has grown hugely, from 40 delegates, 10 stands and a handful of workshops to some 250 delegates, almost 40 stands and a day packed full of workshops.

Specialist organisations staffed stands which provide services to families.

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Exhibitors included Norfolk County Council, Contact A Family, Musical Keys, Special Olympics, SEND Information, Advice and Support Services, Norfolk Portage Service and Scope Independent Support.

Families were also able to attend workshops, while there were also speed-dating sessions, where families were able to have one-to-one 15 minute discussions with a number of experts.

Emma Parncutt, from Family Voice, said: 'The benefit to parents is that we are able to bring all of the professionals and organisations together under one roof.

'The speed-dating is very popular because it allows parents to talk to professionals about issues which are specific to them.

'Our aim is to help give a voice to the parents and carers which will help improve the services,'

A keynote speech was given by Norfolk County Council psychologists Dr Nick Hammond and Nicola Palmer about a new project being piloted in parts of the county to support planning for SEND children and young people.

• You can find out more about Family Voice at or by calling 07950 302937.

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