Archive for “October, 2014”

SNAP Cymru welcomes Jane McCann to the team

Jane has recently joined SNAP Cymru as a Families and Young Persons Support Worker and it goes without saying that the whole team have been happy to welcome her. Jane has previously lectured on law in Swansea. After having children she then gave talks to school children, cubs and others about guide dogs, disability and blindness, helping them learn to read and offering welfare rights advice.

As she explained when I sat down to talk to her, having special needs herself and experience of her son being bullied made SNAP Cymru the perfect place to join.

‘My son was quite badly bullied at school and suffered from anxiety, which made me aware of the need of a service like that offered by SNAP. Also, many of my friends had children with additional needs. With my legal background, I thought I would find it both interesting and fulfilling and I thought that once I got to grips with the subject matter, I could be useful’.

Another positive aspect of the organisation she highlighted during our talk was its positive and inclusive nature, adding

‘The training offered has been fantastic, it makes me feel that I might be able to do the work!’

The most rewarding aspect part of her time here so far has been to meet families themselves and being directly involved in helping to resolve their difficulties. Her new role has involved assisting one family with two sons who have been struggling with additional learning needs at school and Jane hopes she can do the same with more families in the future as she gains more experience.

Her 9 year old guide dog, Peggy, has been a huge hit in the office and the source of many conversations. As Jane says

‘She makes me far more confident and able to go out independently. I still have to ask people for guidance and help when I am out, but it is much easier to do so when she is with me. She is very empowering. She also gets everyone talking to me – they really want to talk to her, but I get to meet lots of lovely people because I am with her’!

Launch Event for our New Bilingual Website

SNAP Cymru celebrated the launch our bilingual website by hosting an event at the Pierhead in Cardiff Bay last week. The event was sponsored by Huw Lewis AM – Minister for Education and Skills, and Ruth Conway – Head of Additional Learning Needs Policy, spoke on his behalf.

www.snapcymru.org is a Welsh bilingual website that went live at the beginning of this month. The site provides key information for parents and young people in on various aspects of Additional Learning Needs; helping children and young people to reach their potential by ensuring families have independent information, advice and support. The website has been built by Galactig, a North Wales based, bilingual digital creative agency. The translation was provided by Cymen.

SNAP trustee, Huw Roberts, hosted the event and gave an overview of SNAP’s work.

Nia Frobisher and Rebecca Bartle, young volunteers for SNAP Cymru, spoke in Welsh and English they explained how the new website meets the need for a bilingual and flexible online platform that can work across all devices whether, smartphone, tablet or laptop. They also outlined how this reflects SNAP’s commitment to provide accessible, reliable and accurate information to every family in their chosen language and highlighted the websites ability to share articles, news and feedback through facebook, twitter, newsletter and interactive pages. SNAP Cyrmu’s unique Wmff! website and app was also showcased. Nia is currently studying law at King’s College London where her work includes communicating to young people their legal rights while Rebecca is hoping to study Social Anthropology at University.

Nicola Coleman, a parent of a child with special needs, from Caerphilly, proceeded to provide a very moving speech on the personal impact of the organisation’s work. She left the audience in no doubt that the need and importance of both concise information and a simple and clear message for parents who encounter so much advice from different angles, was invaluable in meeting her child’s individual needs. She also made clear how important this is for empowering both parents and children so they can live their lives to their full potential. For her own son this means enjoying himself like any other 11 year old; a simple but very important ability.

This was followed with an overview of the sites features and benefits by Sarah Clements, SNAP’s Training and Information Co-ordinator, highlighting its responsiveness, quick access to information, accessible and easy to use format.

And our final speaker was Ruth Conway. She described the websites importance in the context of new statutory reforms for additional learning needs in Wales and SNAP’s part in this process.

Welcome to our New Intern – Maxwell Dean

Here are some of Max’s thoughts about his first few days with us…

SNAP Cymru is a charity which aims to empower families and young people in Wales who face discrimination or exclusion due to learning needs, poverty, deprivation, disability or language by providing accurate information, objective advice and support. This can relate to a wide range of issues including assessments, statements of special education needs, bullying, school attendance, exclusion, health and social care provision and discrimination. Other services they provide include advocacy (through their independent service; About Me), disagreement resolution and training for young people, parents and professionals.

Wmff is a new online platform where young people can seek advice and support, including videos of personal stories where young people tell about their past difficulties, but most importantly how they overcame them. These stories involve experience of bullying in education, work or being out of work, education or training. Information on your legal rights under the 1989 UN Convention on The Rights of The Child is also set out. As such these stories were quite inspiring to myself. SNAP Cymru hope to develop the website’s forum in the future but through an exclusive app assistance is currently available on call whenever a young person needs their support. The website also has several useful links to other informative websites.

My time with the organisation has been very positive and supportive so far. The level of responsibilities I have been given shows a confidence in my abilities. This is despite my own problems with speech, which continue to be a personal barrier to many employment opportunities. This also speaks volumes about their approach and values toward young people with special needs and how they empower them through these. Through this opportunity I can find my voice; here my problems don’t prevent me from fulfilling my potential. They recognize the skills I do have, rather than the ones I have yet to further develop. Using both this experience and the confidence I have gained from undertaking a recent careers course, the GoWales Graduate Academy, I know that I have the ability to achieve much more in the future.

The most positive and indeed, greatest mutual impact of this is I have invaluable and real work experience in a working environment (something I know employers are looking for within a competitive jobs market) while helping the organisation achieve its aims and objectives.

Jared Barry’s Trail of Inspiration

After a sponsored 58.3 mile walk from Brecon to Cardiff by Jared Barry, £315 was recently raised to help SNAP Cymru’s work and support for families. After hearing of an ex-army friend who completed the trail in 17hrs 20minutes Jared, who is a passionate walker, decided to undertake the challenge of completing it in a faster time and started his walk on the 13th June 2014. The Taff Trail goes through historical routes following former tramways, railways and canals and presently used canal towpaths, with views of Pen y fan and wildlife such as owls and herrings.

Despite the physical and emotional challenges Jared faced on the way he drew both strength and inspiration from his children to push on and knew they were depending on him.

The father from Caerphilly also undertook the event as an act of appreciation for receiving past support from SNAP Crmyu for his 13 year old autistic son. This included advocating on the family’s behalf in an annual statement review process through their independent About Me service, sending a volunteer to attend meetings and providing follow-up support. SNAP’s advocates’ help to ensure that children and young people are aware of what is happening to them, their voices are heard and when necessary, are involved any decisions which directly affect them. Recently SNAP Crmyu also provided advice to help contact relevant agencies who could council their son in year 9, after he experienced serious bullying. Jared also realised that it wouldn’t be a bad way to assist in controlling his own diabetes.

Another key motivation was a desire to see the positive impact of a local charity, who like many others, face increasing pressure on their services, continue to benefit others in similar situations. After successfully completing the the walk Jared realised how important it is to have a friend in times of need. As such, this story perfectly illustrates how invaluable this support is so that families can make informed and accurate decisions which empower themselves and their children.

The International Dimension – Cardiff Council and SNAP Cymru Collaboration

Cardiff Council, SNAP Cymru and a group of schools are delighted to announce that we have been successful in achieving European Funding for a Family and Community Engagement project where we will be working collaboratively with colleagues in Warsaw, Poland and Ferrol, Spain.

As a result of the advice and support schools have received from Cardiff Council over recent years participation in the International Dimension has grown significantly.   Cardiff Council now has its own International School Linking Officer supporting schools across the Central South and South East Consortia.  Together with partners from all over the world they have seen the development of teachers and young learners as global citizens and work completed has impacted on standards and engagement across our schools.  They have welcomed guests from across the world, enriching the classroom experience for our young learners and teachers.  Staff have benefited from CPD opportunities and have visited partners in very many countries sharing good practice and bringing new and exciting approaches to teaching and learning into our schools.

In 2013 Cardiff Council, SNAP Cymru and a number of schools across Cardiff embarked upon a 2 year project with partners in Nuremberg, Germany which looked at shared understandings of inclusive teaching and learning.

We are working together to:

  • develop modules for common learning processes focusing on standards
  • share materials and approaches to working in partnership with families
  • create activities to further develop teachers’ training

Both regions have different levels of development in inclusive practice. So we are learning from each other in addition to developing common strategies, concepts and modules.

Family and Community Engagement.

Following on from the success of this project Cardiff Council, SNAP Cymru and a new group of schools applied for funding from Europe to look at Family and Community Engagement.  We are delighted to announce that we have been successful in our application and between now and 2016 will be working collaboratively with colleagues in Warsaw, Poland and Ferrol, Spain.

In line with European priorities we will be working together to identify strategies for improving the attainment of young people, particularly those at risk of early school leaving and with low basic skills (migrant pupils and disadvantaged pupils). We aim to achieve a greater understanding and responsiveness to social, linguistic and cultural diversity and encourage our families to become more active in society.  We have seen a huge increase in the number of ethnic minority groups in our regions.  Many of those families have little or no experience of education and the importance in education for their children.  This growing demographic is coupled with a growth in the number of disengaged families amongst our indigenous population.  All regions involved in this project have already begun looking at how we can engage with families and ultimately their young learners in education but we recognise that more needs to be done.   We have planned a project through which we can work together with partners from varying regions pooling our resources and ideas to so we can engage more successfully with families and their children who are harder to reach.  Through collaborative working, teacher training, accredited training opportunities for parents and developing student voice we believe we can work together to improve aspiration and engagement.