New Year – New Ideas
What does 2016 hold in store for Bringing Us Together?
It’s that time of year, a time to review the past twelve months and look at what has worked and what hasn’t worked.
At Bringing Us Together, as parents ourselves, we have always wanted to ensure that what we provided made a difference to families. We have never wanted to replicate what others do, especially when it is being done well. We have never jumped on someone else’s idea and claimed it as our own. We have always wanted to work ethically. We also have been through so much as parents that we didn’t want to give ourselves another reason to not sleep at night.
This year we have been fortunate enough to secure additional funding (other than any we receive from Sponsors) from Awards For All. This is great news for us and hopefully for you. We want to ensure that this funding benefits families but obviously, it only goes so far so we cannot do everything with it.
So we sat down and reviewed everything we did last year to help us to plan for this year. We asked ourselves what worked and what didn’t. This is what we came up with.
Finding Your Way Conference
We had a huge interest in the contents of the Conference but the feedback we have received is a) the time of year is not great (we’re all trying to recover financially from Christmas), b) the venue wasn’t in a central enough location and c} weekends are not necessarily an easier time to attend a conference.
So we have made the decision to cancel the Conference. This has not been an easy decision to make but we couldn’t ignore the feedback we were getting. Those who have booked places have been contacted and refunded.
Despite cancelling it, we are aware that the workshops were of interest. So what are we doing about that?
One of the things that worked really well in 2014 were our Webchats. The ability to ask questions and to read the responses at a time convenient to you, was something that really seemed to strike a chord with you. So we will be running webinars/chats on the workshops we were offering at the conference. The webinars will be live but they will also be recorded and added to the site so even if you can’t make the time of the webinar, you can look later and find the information of use to you.
In addition to the speakers and workshops at the conference, we would love to hear from you as to what other on-line workshops you would like to see.
One of the popular subjects we have covered in the last year has been Family Rights. Along with our A to Z (produced with families), our posts on Facebook and on the site regarding this were very popular. So this is something we want to do more on.
What would help you though? Is it fact sheets in plain English you can download and take away? Is it webinars? Is it actual get togethers and if so, where – London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cornwall – where works for you? Is it a chance to ask specific questions for your own situation? Let us know.
We have added a contact form for you at the end of this post.
We are very proud of our Justice Together site. We are now working with Respond to take this project to the next level.
The interest in this project has been amazing. So many people have been looking at the site, looking at our posts on here about Justice Together and signing up to help. We have also had families contact us to get support and although we are still in the early days, it has been great to actually be able to point them to people who can help them.
We all think “this will never happen to me” but unfortunately it does happen and often to people who you least expect it to.
The viewing figures and downloads for our One Page Profile program last year was really unbelievable. So many of you are obviously keen to start thinking in a more person-centred way but weren’t sure how to start. A One Page Profile is not the answer to a lot of the problems out there (and we are aware it gets some negative press when practitioners try to use it as a band aid) but it is a great tool to start thinking in a person centred way. How often are you asked “what is important to your child” or “what do you like/admire about them”? So often the focus is on what our children cannot do and how far we have to go, so using a One Page Profile to start thinking more positively is obviously something you had an interest in.
In the next few weeks, we will be producing the program in a different format to make it even easier to use. So watch this space.
We were delighted last year when we saw the interest in articles we shared or posted about looking after ourselves. It is so often our last priority, we ensure everyone else has their needs met first. However, as the saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup” so we need to start thinking about how we can look after ourselves without it having a negative impact on our families.
So how do we care for ourselves?
One of the webinars we will be running will be one on resilience. A basic overview of the various aspects we need to consider. Then over the year, we will be inviting other people to share their knowledge and experience.
Our Paperwork posts last year obviously hit home. They were hugely popular. If you missed them, they are certainly worth taking a look at.
We will be adding more ideas on how to stay ahead of the game, or as Debs calls it “find calm in the chaos”. Debs is on a mission to get herself organised and last year made some big steps in the right direction. She will be sharing her experiences with you.
What didn’t work?
Despite people asking for other places to ask questions rather than on Facebook, these proved unpopular. Initially there was a lot of people posting and answering but this very soon dropped off.
Having investigated at some length, we realise that for forums to work there has to be more than two people involved. The large charities or other public organisation who use forums often have paid staff and the smaller charities have a larger group of parents helping out.
If you would like to ask a question without going on Facebook or want to ask anonymously, just get in touch and we will be happy to ask on your behalf.
If you still think the forums are a good thing to have, let us know and we can always reconsider.
We attended an Afternoon of Happiness with the Dalai Lama in September last year and it was fab! There were some really inspirational speakers at the event and we came home so motivated and although we know there will be those of you spitting your drink out at the screen as you read this, we also know that there will be those who are game for something new.
With those people in mind, we are launching our Happiness Club. Each term and over the summer holiday we will send emails to those who are interested giving them a goal for that term or holiday to help them achieve happiness.
There will also be a separate Facebook group (or forum if that is what you choose) so we can all share our experiences in there and have a giggle. Yes, there are big battles ahead for all of us and the world can seem like a really horrible place to be somedays but there is still space for some laughter and positivity.
It’s free and what do you have to lose?
If you are interested, pop over and sign up and we will be in touch next week to give you a goal for this term. A new goal will come out in the last week of February for you to aim for in time for the Easter holidays.
One of the things some families have mentioned is the need for someone to help them to focus and steer them on their way. Often we know what we want to achieve but we don’t know where to start or we worry about the hurdles and give up before we start.
So let us know, would this be something you would like to see offered to families? Could a mentor/coach help you? What goals do you have but you keep putting them off because they seem so unachievable?
Would you prefer a one to one coaching session or would you prefer group coaching? Would you like these as an online private chat? Are you someone who could offer to mentor/coach a family?
Get in touch with us and let us know what you would like or can provide and let’s see if we can get this up and running.
What have we missed?
Where are the gaps? What do you need but you can’t find? What would help you to get through the next year but you don’t think anyone offers it?
Often, people do offer what you need but you can’t find it. So ask us and if we don’t know someone who can help, we can ask around and if no one is offering it, then we can look at how or if we could offer it. Or maybe we can think of an organisation who almost offers it and can probably offer what you need if they know you are looking for it.
Bringing Us Together
The whole concept of Bringing Us Together was to bring us together. As Helen Keller famously said “Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much”
So help us to make 2016 the year when Bringing Us Together brings us together.
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Debs is one of the co-founders and Directors of Bringing Us Together. She is mum to three child with a variety of SEND and has a great husband.