How one parent’s battle for justice and equity for her disabled child has helped thousands of families affected by Special Educational Needs and Disabilities…
A few weeks after she had won her High Court battle with her local authority in October 2017, Chrissa Wadlow felt compelled to share her experience with other parents and carers in the hope it would prevent what she and her family had gone through from happening to anyone else.
Fast forward to May 2019, and Chrissa has supported thousands of parents and carers by organising over 80 empowering events all over the country, extending her support to professionals who support children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND), too. When you see things in black and white, like this, it’s no surprise Chrissa has been nominated 14 times for a National Diversity Award in 2019.
“Parents were crying out for impartial information and support, and I was overwhelmed by the response to my first few events which were only ever meant to be a bit of information sharing to empower others who found themselves in the same position as me. I am truly amazed that we have come this far, and I’m truly honoured to have received so many nominations” states Chrissa.
Chrissa’s efforts were in high demand, and very quickly with a lot of hard work and research, she had the backing from top UK experts in the SEND professional community.
Originally set up for just parents and carers Chrissa quickly realised that professionals needed the information and support too. “If we want our children to fully benefit from what we have on offer, it’s essential we are all reading from the same hymn sheet” Chrissa states.
As a result hundreds of parents, carers and teachers now access the services and support of Sunshine Support every week.
“We get requests to visit a lot of cities all over the UK… There is such a crisis within Special Educational Needs & Disabilities that families need our expert advice and support. So it seemed natural to tour the country with our workshops”
Sharing the Sunshine around England and Wales
2019, just a year after founding the organisation, Chrissa made the decision to take Sunshine Support on a tour across England and Wales.
With the help of her husband and co-director, Tom, and educational expert and Head of SEND Marguerite Haye, Chrissa launched the service in London in April 2019. The launch had the backing from national, award-winning law firm HCB Solicitors, headed up by Nathan Davies and Andrew Barrowclough.
“It was essential for us to have a law firm to support our families who had the infrastructure to support the ambition that we have to share our support and expertise nationwide. With Nathan Davies winning my own case, I whole heartedly recommend him and his team to our families”
Empowering Parents, Carers and Professionals
Sunshine Support workshops empower attendees by providing knowledge that isn’t otherwise available through funded and commissioned services in the local authorities or NHS. Parents regularly feedback that the workshops are far more thorough and insightful than those run by authorities, providing actual practical tips and strategies that empower them as parents and advocates and the biggest bonus is that they’re not restricted to what advice has been commissioned.
Such workshops include:
There are many more that are planned, too!
National Diversity Awards – Nominations!
Chrissa was very surprised to be in receipt of her first nomination for the NDAs, it wasn’t until a few days before the voting closed that she realised there had been more than one!
“Looking at previous winners, competition is fierce for these sorts of high profile awards. I am not expecting to win, but my mission is to put SEND on the map, so to speak, and if our nominations have improved awareness, then I’m thrilled. There is a huge movement happening within the field of SEND, and I’m so passionate about being a part of it!”
Chrissa has instigated a lot of media attention surrounding SEND in the last 18 months.
Have a read of some of the nominations for Sunshine Support’s recommendations for an NDA:
“Sunshine Support has done some incredible work for children with educational needs and support to parents all over U.K. amazing work has been done and Chrissa puts her heart and soul into her work with the children.”
“They have taken the knowledge and expertise gained in their own personal battles with education for their daughter and decided to help so many others. They have brought experts In educational law, occupational, sensory and speech therapists to the people that would have struggled to access or understand their need for their child, alone.. I applaud them for giving up so much of their free time to act as advocates and provide coffee mornings and support to anyone facing challenges with their child’s special educational needs and giving reassurance the they are not alone and there is support and understanding out there. Autism is one of their personal strengths but they are open to helping anyone in need. They are a non profit organisation and unlike some of the more career driven groups on Facebook etc, they have not lost the empathy, patience and understanding this is so desperately needed by the families under so much stress. There is a national SEND crisis and schools are simply unable to cope and therefore ignore or cannot fund the support or diagnostics needed to help the children in their care achieve to the best of their abilities. Sunshine Support was set up in Derby in a response to the cries for help from local families and I have personally benefited from attending their free legal advice clinic and law workshop. I couldn’t hope to afford it or understand where my child’s rights were being infringed. Now I have set up my child in a new school and he has all the support he needs. Parent confidence and knowledge is key and sunshine support do their best to deliver it to those in need and have taken their independent specialists all across the country to share the burden and help families to help themselves. Long may Mrs Chrissa Wadlow and team continue to do such great work, despite the huge pressure it puts on her family. Our families Thank her so much !”
“Chrissa and Sunshine Support have helped us through arming us with relevant information and support to help to negotiate the tough process of applying for and maintaining EHCP for our 2 boys with disabilities. The support gives parents more of a level playing field when negotiating and seeking the right help for their additional needs/disabled children in school”
“She has spearheaded this charity to enlighten and support parents and families through the minefield that is SEND support whilst overcoming hurdles of her own. She has an amazing team who she has chosen for their specific skills within the areas the specialised in. And now is taking her workshops which offer a vast amount of information countrywide SHE DESERVES THIS AWARD”
The official announcement of the shortlisted nominees will take place on 1st July. Chrissa and the team at Sunshine Support wishes everyone nominated the greatest success! It’s a major achievement to have come this far!
Source – Sunshine – Support . org