Welcome to the April Bulletin. When we put together the March Bulletin we had no idea how different life would feel just a month later. We hope you are all keeping well and coping in these unsettled times, as COVID-19 dominates our lives. Whilst there is lots of uncertainty and challenge just now, I think we have all been heartened to see how communities are coming together to support one another. Kindness goes such a long way.
The Chip+ team are all working from home and getting into the swing of a new way of working, embracing technology! It’s a steep learning curve but we’re getting there…and we’re feeling excited about the potential to use technology more beyond all of this to reach all across Highland. More info later in the Bulletin!
Our key message this month is that we are still here for you so please do get in touch. We may not have all the answers just now, but we are good listeners and will do whatever we can to help and support you in these unprecedented times.
Artwork by the incredible Charlie Mackesy Hoping Charlie doesn’t mind us sharing this beautiful image.
KEY INFO ON CHIP+ AND WHERE TO FIND INFO
Firstly please remember we are open and here to support you. We can be contacted by phone on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:30-12:30 and 13:00-16:00 on 07514 120288. At this point we will take some key details and you will be offered a telephone appointment with an Information and Support Officer. You can also contact us via the contact form on our website or by email. Parent carers, if you’re not already a member we suggest you join the Highland Action Group for ASN & Education on Facebook. This group now has over 4000 members and they are doing a fantastic job updating key information that parent carers may find useful at this time. Well done and thank you to the dedicated parent carers running that page! We have created a COVID-19 section on our Useful Links section of the website and are updating these pretty much daily just now. We will keep adding key links in here which you may find useful, rather than posting them on our Facebook page. We’re feeling overwhelmed by how much information is flying around and you may be feeling that way too. We have therefore decided we will try and keep our Facebook page a positive and inspiring place to help people through these challenging times. We are also continually updating our Resources section of the website so that’s another good place to check e.g. there is a growing selection of helpful films and we are in the process of adding other info such as useful apps.
JOIN US FOR A BREW AND BLETHER!
We held a virtual pilot coffee morning earlier this month to chat to a few parents about how we can best support you just now, and if we’re honest, to increase our own confidence with the virtual world! The feedback was really positive – everyone found it straightforward to join us virtually, we had really productive discussions with very helpful feedback from parents, and came out of it feeling really excited about the potential for now and the future.
As of Friday 17th April we will be holding a weekly Brew and Blether for parent carers in Highland with children with additional support needs. It’ll be a relaxed and informal online meet up where you can meet other parents and also get information and advice from our Information and Support Officers Karen and Catherine. We’ll take the lead from parents joining us and look forward to welcoming some of you this week!
SOME REASSURANCE ON EDUCATION (WE HOPE)
Due to the Coronavirus Act, schools are closed. Parents are being encouraged, and being supported, to continue to educate their children at this time but cannot be prosecuted for failing to educate their children due to the school being closed. We at CHIP+ understand that this can be a very challenging time for many parents and carers who may also be trying to work from home, have worries about jobs and money, as well as caring for their children. We want to help you as much as we can. There is a lot of information to help and support parents during the present time. It is important not to be hard on yourselves, do what you can, and remember that you cannot recreate a school environment at home, nor will teachers expect you to.
CHIP+ has a lot of ideas and suggestions on our website to help and support you. We post most tdays on our Facebook page (Please help us by sharing posts so that as many people as possible can see them). Other useful websites you can have a look at are Highland Council with details on their helpline posted here and regular updates. You may also find Parent club and Parent zone helpful. Young people can go onto the Reach website and Instagram for information relating to schools being closed due to Coronavirus and they can share their stories on what has helped them too.
HIGHLAND COUNCIL COVID-19 FREEPHONE HELPLINE
The Highland Council have launched a free helpline. You will be able to get advice on benefits and personal support, education and social care and there will also be advice for businesses who may need help with financial support. Helpline staff will also be signposting callers to other organisations that can provide help and assistance as well as gathering offers from individuals or community groups wishing to volunteer.
UPCOMING PINES SUPPORT SESSION
We have a great partnership working with the National Autistic Society Scotland delivering our Pines support sessions and are delighted to be able to continue running sessions virtually. Thank you to Alison (NAS Information Officer) for continuing to work closely with us to make this happen. Watch this space – more sessions coming soon! These events are open to all parent carers in Highland. If you’d like to join us online please email to book your place and receive joining instructions. Details of the first session are below.
We are pleased to welcome Victoria Wylie to join us for a virtual Pines question and answer session on Thursday 23rd April 11am–12 noon.
Victoria is a 16 year old pupil at Fortrose Academy and she has been travelling round schools in Highland delivering presentations about autism and being autistic. You can see an example of a presentation here which might be useful for any young people to understand more about autism.
Victoria will answer your questions about being an autistic young person at this time, such as how she is coping in isolation, coping with the change that this has created and how to best prepare for going back to school. She can also tell you about things such as how she deals with stress, meltdowns, sensory challenges etc. which will hopefully give an insight into helping your child and other autistic young people.
Please send in your questions before the session or just join the session live to ask them directly. We had planned to have Victoria join us at a Pines session in May on women and girls so we are very pleased she will be with us virtually! Please email if you’d like to join us (22 places available). You do not need to ask questions online if you would prefer not to speak, just listen into the session!
JUST ASK HELPLINE NOW OPEN TUESDAYS & THURSDAYS
The Just Ask helpline is now open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, which will be very welcome news to many parents. If you have any concerns or queries about your child you can contact the helpline for advice from specialist workers. Professionals can also contact the Just Ask helpline and again you may find this resource particularly valuable as many of you will be working differently just now. Well done to all involved in this initiative. It’s being very well used and feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
STATE OF CARING SURVEY 2020
The Carers UK State of Caring 2020 survey has now launched. The survey is the UK’s most comprehensive research into the lives and experience of carers and many professionals who work with carers find the results provide a useful evidence base for their work locally. Last year it was completed by over 8000 carers and Carers UK used the evidence to push carers up the agenda for policy makers, to help inform practice and to campaign for recognition and change across the UK. This year they have new questions to help inform and shape practice around health and well being, employment and technology.
The survey will close on 17th May 2020 and Carers UK will be releasing a research report in the summer. If you have any questions about the research, please get in touch with their policy team by email.
CHILDREN IN SCOTLAND WEBINARS FOR PROFESSIONALS WORKING WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Children in Scotland is a national charity working to improve children’s lives. One of their key priorities is to strengthen the children’s sector workforce across Scotland.They do this by providing around 200 learning events annually, attended by 5,000+ people. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they’re working hard to bring as many of these as possible online, because they understand that your training needs are not diminished by the restrictions introduced as a result of the pandemic. Now more than ever, it’s vital that you’re able to learn, connect with others and share your own experiences.
Upcoming webinars include working with children and young people who have experienced traumatic stress, and messy maths. Full details can be found here. There is a small cost to cover the costs of delivering these sessions.
AND FINALLY…WE WANTED TO END WITH A SMILE!
We thought we’d share some of the things that have made us smile this last week…
Our office buddies at SNAP usually run face to face services for children, young people and young adults with learning disabilities such as after school clubs, weekends away and a youth group. They’ve been sharing pictures of their supporters drinking their morning cuppa from a SNAP mug and are setting up video calls to keep in touch. Well done SNAP!
Our friends at Glachbeg Croft Education Centre usually offer a hands on context for delivery of the school curriculum for young people with additional support needs. They’re missing their young people who help with all the tasks required on a busy, working croft. They’re working hard to make sure the young people still feel included and less isolated from Glachbeg even though they can’t physically be there…and they’ve just welcomed their first lambs. Well done Glachbeg Croft!
It’s been an absolute delight to see residents at Cantraybridge College doing their daily lockdown activity – we’ve seen dancing in the courtyard, a scavenger hunt and karaoke. Absolutely fantastic…and they just welcomed their first goat kids. Aww! Well done Cantraybridge College!
And finally a shout out to Highland Third Sector Interface who have been beavering away to set up all sorts of things to support communities to support one another during these uncertain times. A small team doing great things and showcasing all that’s good about the third sector. We’re proud to be a part of Highland’s incredible third sector.
Thank you for reading. Take care and stay safe. All the best from Sarah, Karen, Karen and Catherine at CHIP+