The champions are a group of young people across both Kingston and Richmond boroughs.
Ages of the champion members, range from 16 to 26 years.
Champions are both male and female, who attend a variety of different types of schools. Some attend specialist schools and some attend main stream schools both locally and out of borough.
We have been running for the last two years, alongside the implementation of the government's new SEND reforms.
SEND reforms are happening nationwide.
We are one of a few groups nationally, consisting of young people from the local area, who are very involved in the SEND changes.
We feel this is key, as young people are the people that rely on and access the services on offer.
The role of a champion is to attend meetings and respond to questions within their set category, such as (Post 16 sub-group). We offer ideas and give feedback from various consultations. Views are requested from a variety of young people in the local areas by the champions who then bring these views to the consultations.
Our discussions include, how important it is to ensure that all professionals making decisions for young people, must keep the young persons views at the centre while they make decisions about support and services needed.
Our aim is to help improve the services, to help make more positive the outcomes for young people.
The role of the champions was created, to not only improve the services for the future but also to make sure that the voices of all children and young people are clearly heard. We use a wide range of communication tools, so we can put forward everyone's views on any input requested.
Young people having their say is very important, but more importantly is the fact that their views, opinions and recommendations are actually being listened to and play a major part in decisions, is the real key.
SEND reforms are a chance for both young people and professional to work together, side by side in order to create the most efficient, easy to access services for all.
The partnership that champions have worked hard on, has been built with the professionals and is now bridging gaps between them and the service users. The champions were tasked to work with a range of professionals across the two boroughs, on four different groups, these groups are:
- Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)
- Post 16
- Personal Budgets
- The Local Offer
which all play a vital part of the SEND reforms. This has allowed us to help shape and mould the services we need, want and are provided.
Creating positive outcomes and goals for the future of both the young people and our services in Kingston and Richmond, is achieved by working in partnership. This way of working means we all get to understand the needs of the users and the decisions made by the providers.
We were grateful, that after I invited Edward Timpson MP to come and see what our champions are doing, he accepted the invite and commended us on our hard work.
I was also requested by the minister to write a blog for him about his visit to meet the Champions at Moor Lane, this was shared with Nick Whitfield.
If you wish to find out more about the Champions, and the work that we have done with professionals on the SEND reforms, you can contact us via our participation officers. You can also keep an eye out for future blogs, with current updates of the projects that the champions are involved in.
Written By: Zoe North in 2015