Volunteer with Us!

We are looking for some special people to help parents and/or young people to understand and participate confidently in the discussions, assessments and important decisions affecting them.

Many parents and young people ask for advice and support so that they can fully understand their options and feel more confident to express their own views. IAS volunteers can make a real difference by building relationships with individuals and listening to what really matters to them.

Volunteers have a range of interests and expertise, but often share an interest in special educational needs and disability, perhaps having worked with children and young people, or being the parent of a child with additional needs themselves. Often working with families at stressful times, an IAS volunteer is someone who is a good listener and communicator, and respects confidentiality, and someone who is able to show understanding but also give realistic and unbiased advice.

Volunteers can join the team either as an Independent Parental Supporter (IPS), to work with parents primarily, or as an “Independent Supporter” (IS) who will support parents and/or young people aged 16-25 through the new EHC Needs assessment and planning. These differing roles are outlined below.

If you have some time to help, and are willing to undertake training, please do contact us to find out more. We are committed to providing all volunteers with comprehensive and ongoing training, as well as access to regular supervision and volunteer team support.

As this work involves working with children and vulnerable adults, all volunteers are subject to an Enhanced Disclosure by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS check) and formal references will be sought by the IAS Service.

The IAS Service is always looking for volunteers, so please get in touch using the “contact us” page if you would like to know more. Alternatively, you may wish to call us on 01628 683182.

Independent Parental Supporters (IPS)

An Independent Parental Supporter (IPS) is a skilled volunteer, trained by the Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Service to support and advise parents of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or disability (SEND).

An IPS can help parents to play a more confident, active and informed part in the discussions, assessments and decisions affecting their child.

The Independent Parental Supporter’s role will vary according to the needs of the parents. Some just want advice about what is written in a Statement of SEN or an EHC Plan, others may want support in expressing their views to the Local Authority, or considering their rights of appeal. An IPS may help by, for example:

• Providing information or helping parents to locate information
• Helping parents to complete forms or write letters
• Accompanying parents to meetings
• Helping parents to express their views
• Assisting and supporting parents through their child’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment
• Talking through the options available and helping parents to make informed choices.

If you are interested in working with us as an Independent Parental Supporter, please do get in touch.

Independent Supporters (IS)

To ensure that timely support is readily available to parents and young people entering or transitioning to the new SEND system, the Government has launched the “Independent Support Programme”. This programme is helping us to develop our capacity to meet the needs of local parents and young people, by supporting us in training “Independent Supporters” (IS) to work with families.

The role of the Independent Supporter is very clearly defined in relation to the new SEND assessment framework. Independent Supporters will offer information, advice and time-limited support to parents of children with SEND, and young people with SEND, specifically in relation to the EHC Needs Assessment and the development of an EHC Plan. Independent Supporters will help to explain the new EHC processes and ensure that parents and their children are able to participate fully.

A comprehensive training course has been developed by the Council for Disabled Children, which oversees the Independent Support Programme, to enable volunteers to gain a detailed understanding of the new SEND framework and the role of the Independent Supporter. This training package involves completing online training modules (about 2 days learning) and 2 days of face-to-face training.

If you are interested in working with us to provide “Independent Support” to parents and young people, please do get in touch.