HPCI Member Update 10 June 2022

It’s been a busy week for HPCI – we held our Involvement Partners meeting on Wednesday where we bring together organisations from across Hertfordshire who provide support, advise or campaign for families with SEND in the county, in order to make sure HPCI is fully aware of the issues that families are facing.  We then met yesterday with Jo Fisher, the Director of Children’s Services at HCC to raise current issues with her.  Read on to find out more about that meeting as well as:

  • Extended opening hours for the SPACE lending library
  • Support with meeting the costs of living
  • Deafblind UK survey and keeping your HPCI membership information updated
  • Save the date – supported employment job fair in Broxbourne on 1 July


Raising issues with Jo Fisher (HCC’s Director of Children’s services)

As part of our role in keeping the views and experiences of Hertfordshire families with SEND at the heart of discussions that affect them, HPCI holds meetings each term with Jo Fisher.  At these meetings we share with her the issues that families are facing and share suggestions about how the HCC services our families use can be improved.  At this term’s meeting we covered:

  • Concerns about the wait for special schools in Hertfordshire, particularly for those families without an appropriate place for September where their child is transitioning into a new stage of education (e.g. starting school, moving to secondary or further education). We also raised concerns about the right kinds of school places being available for children and young people in Hertfordshire.
  • Children and young people who are either out of school or on part time timetables.
  • The difficulties families are still experiencing in contacting the team that manages the EHCP process and concerns about the capacity of that team.
  • The time schools are waiting in order to get input from county’s Special Advisory Teachers.
  • Accessing the 0-25 team (social care) and getting timely decisions and support from them.
  • Pupils being left unable to access school due to county-funded taxi firms terminating their contracts (due to the price of fuel) and the additional financial pressure faced by families who fund their own home to school/college transport through a Personal Transport Budget.

While there are often no easy or quick answer to these issues, we will continue to make sure that HCC understand the impact that they have both on families but also on those organisations who support us.  There was some positive news about new funds which have been made available since April to mainstream schools who are supporting pupils while they wait for a specialist place (full details have been shared with schools and will be on The Hertfordshire Local Offer website soon).  And we said that HPCI would survey families about their experiences of part-time timetables, so that the council can better understand the situation, its impact and where families would like more information and support.  We will also continue to raise all these issues through the many specific workstreams that our volunteer reps sit on.


Extended opening hours for the SPACE lending library

You may be aware that there is an equipment lending library in Stevenage that lends out sensory, practical and educational resources to families who live in Hertfordshire with children and young people with additional needs.  They have recently extended their opening hours to include Saturday mornings.  For full details, see their Facebook page here: Lending SPACE | Facebook


Support with meeting the costs of living

You will probably have seen in the press that, just before half term, the Chancellor announced a package of measures aimed at helping households in the UK with the cost-of-living crisis and increasing energy bills.

The package of help announced includes:

  • A £150 disability cost of living payment for individuals on a disability benefit such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • £650 one-off payment to low-income households on means tested benefits
  • The previously announced £200 energy support loan will be doubled to £400 and no longer needs to be paid back.

If you want to find out more about who is eligible for these payments and when they will be made, there is lots of helpful information on the Contact website.  And if you are having difficulties with managing bills and would like to talk to someone about what other help might be available, you can contact HertsHelp via their website or on 0300 123 4044.


Deafblind UK survey and keeping your HPCI membership information updated

Yesterday I sent out a survey from Deafblind UK to those families on our membership database who indicated that their child has needs relating to both sight and hearing.  If you would did not receive this and would like to, please let me know.  And, if at any time, your child’s needs change, please do let me know and I can update your membership information, so that you can receive information tailored to your family’s needs.


Save the date – supported employment job fair in Broxbourne on 1 July

Finally, please see below a poster with information about a supported employment fair taking place next month.