I’m really looking forward to speaking to as many of you as possible and hearing about your experiences – challenges and success stories, so that I can feedback to Surrey County Council and help them shape policies, processes and procedures to improve the Send journey of parent careers and meet the needs of children with disabilities.
Prior to this, I have worked in HR, specialising in Employment Law for almost 20 years. Throughout my career, I have gained lots of transferable skills to bring to the Participation Manager role and I’m so excited to be working for such a wonderful charity, in a subject that I’m so passionate about. I’m determined, organised and honest.
I’m married to Jonathan and have two beautiful children. A five year-old son who is autistic and non-verbal and a four year-old little girl who starts school in September. Although the age gap keeps me on my toes, it took nine rounds of IVF to bring us our much wanted son, and our daughter was a wonderful, natural, surprise five months later! To this day, sometimes when I look at them, I still can’t believe they are ours and will never forget how lucky we are to have them.
I know first-hand how daunting, demanding and overwhelming /frustrating trying to navigate the system and finding the help and support you need for your child and family can be. My aim is to listen, learn and speak up for families to help others fully understand these challenges and how they can make life easier for families and children with disabilities.
Hobbies and Interests…
I love travelling – when we get a chance of course. I also like to run…mainly because I love chocolate! Most of all I love a good movie and spending quality time with family, friends and dig Pepper
What does my working week look like?
I’d love to hear from you, so please drop me an email. I’m working part-time, from September, and my core hours will be Mon-Thurs 10am-2pm term-time, so although I may not be able to respond straight away, I will always come back to you as soon as possible.
I have both personal and professional experience of SEND. I am a parent of two wonderful girls, both of whom are Autistic and have ADHD along with other co morbidities including DCD and mental health difficulties. I have learnt so much (and am still learning!) about the SEND system, and how to access support from different services. Professionally I have experience of working with children and their families with additional needs through my previous role of managing a day nursery for children under 5 years old, I was also the SENCO there. As SENCO I worked closely with many children, and I was involved in many multi professional discussions, and inputted into the old statementing system (Now EHCP’s) I absolutely loved working with families and being part of their journey.
What do you bring to your role?
I bring endless passion and enthusiasm and determination to do all that I can to ensure families are heard and understood. My own experiences both professionally and personally allow me to fully appreciate the challenges families face.
What is your family life like?
Family life is never dull in our house! Having two beautiful daughters with additional needs has its challenges but also has huge rewards seeing what they achieve and overcome.
What does your working week look like?
I work 16 hours per week part time around my children. My main availability is usually during school hours.
Do you have any hobbies?
I love going for long walks with our dog, and spend a lot of time at the stables with my daughters as they both love to horse ride.
I joined FVS in December 2022 and I am excited to be a part of the FVS family. It will be wonderful to be collaborate with other parent-carer colleagues, families and our professional partners, to shape and improve services within Surrey.
My BC (Before Children) career was in advertising, where I specialised in Project Management. After a career break to support my children in the early years, I worked for many years in primary schools as a teaching assistant, primarily focusing on SEN teaching, support and intervention. I served as a parent governor at a Surrey special school as Safeguarding Officer. I have also supported families of children and young people with disabilities, as a critical friend and advocate over the years.
I live in Elmbridge, am married to Andy and have 2 amazing children … well young adults actually. My son has Down’s Syndrome and autism and is currently at a Surrey specialist college for the performing arts. My daughter has ADHD and is currently in her 3rd year at university.
My children have inadvertently been amazing teachers, teaching me everything I know about children and young people who are not neurotypical! I therefore feel well-placed to understand the challenges faced by families and our professional partners
Claire has worked her way through the FVS ranks since 2015 and now heads the Business Support Team. She manages all of the business side of FVS including HR and finance. She also supports her team in running the day to day needs of the organisation, supporting staff and reminding us when we are about to drop balls (there’s often a lot going on!). Claire’s daughter has cerebral palsy so she is very familiar with issues around having a child with a physical disability as well as other additional needs.
Rachael joined the team in 2019 as a District & Borough Coordinator for Elmbridge, then as a Support Services Assistant and is now our Business and Engagement Manager. Rachael helps us juggle all the work balls, working closely with the Business Support Team, Participation Team and the Coordinators. She is a very busy bee and our only full time staff member – we would be lost without her! Rachael has two children – her eldest is autistic and her youngest has ADHD and dyslexia. In her spare time (when she has any!) she loves to go horse riding and taking the family dog Chloe for a walk.
I joined FVS in April 2022 as a project worker and moved over to the business team in September of the same year. Joining FVS was my first role back after taking the last 9 years out dedicating my time to raising my children. I am married to Jonathan and mother to three wonderful boys, two of which are autistic. Before joining the team, I first discovered FVS on my own personal journey, so I understand first-hand the difficulties and challenges parents face. I’m passionate about using my experience and understanding to now help other parents in the same situation. Day-to-day I help manage the business side of things, supporting the team and parents on their own journeys. In my spare time I love to run, travel, and spend time outdoors with our family dog, Huxley.
Vanessa is a mother of a teenage son who she adopted when he was four years old. Her experience spans autism, ADHD, developmental trauma, sensory processing, dyslexia, dyspraxia and visual impairment. She has worked with mainstream and special schools and has experience of navigating her way round the EHCP process. She is also a registered foster carer so has experience of the emotional needs of looked after children.
Vanessa is passionate about supporting parents and carers through their own journeys and feels “if she knew then what she knew now” her journey may have been less rocky. She wants to be able to use her experience to help the SEND community and gather the thoughts and needs of these families in Elmbridge to influence change for a better future.
In her spare time she loves to paint with water colours, walk her dogs, tend her garden and run the Saturday morning Rhyme time in the local library.
Anna is a mum to a one son, who is creative, funny, kind, caring, stylish, autistic and has ADHD. She has learned how to navigate the world of SEND to support and advocate for him. The support she gets from other parent carers of children with SEND has been huge, helping her to find resources to support her family, and to feel less isolated. As borough coordinator, her role is to give other parent carers the chance to share experiences and have a say in shaping the services that our children need.
Family life is Anna, her son, and husband revolving around the enormous dog, whilst gaming, spending time with family and getting to the beach as much as they can.
Her working week is mostly focused on mid-week, during school hours. To relax, Anna likes to read, go and see art, draw, drink coffee, do Pilates and play with the dog!
Nicole joined our team in October 2018 and is mum to 4 beautiful children. Nicole’s eldest child and her only daughter was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome one hour after her birth which was unexpected and a real shock. Her eldest son also has additional needs and so have become a SEND expert parent by experience. She totally understands the fight – going after what you need for your children to have the best support. She is passionate about seeing things changed within the education system to see our children better supported. Nicole believes that children don’t always fit in the box, sometimes the box needs to be changed for them. She doesn’t want to see parents beating themselves up because the system doesn’t always work. One size doesn’t fit all, every person is completely unique and the way they are wired is important. Nicole loves working for Family Voice because she believes we can bring about change not just for our own children but for the families we support. Your voice is important because words can affect change for the better. Together we can make a difference.
Linda joined us in October 2023, after living in the Mole Valley area for 10 years. She had a long career as a primary teacher, working with children with a variety of SEND and their families to ensure their education was the best it could possibly be. This wealth of experience in the education sector gives her an understanding about how provision for children with special educational needs within their setting, has a huge impact on the child, their family and the school. Linda has been supporting parents outside of Family Voice Surrey for 4 years and now joins us to continue to build on this with our members.
Linda has two daughters, her oldest was diagnosed ASD when she was 6. She has a great understanding of the diagnosis, EHCP application and school placement process and knows the battles that parents sometimes face to get the right provision. She personally knows that when provision isn’t in place, it’s not only the child that suffers! Linda feels passionately that disability should not be a barrier in life and that parent carers must be heard to ensure their young person has all the opportunities they deserve.
Lucy is our Borough Coordinator for Reigate & Banstead, the whole SEN system has been a part of her life one way or another for over 40 years – firstly as a sibling and now as a parent of three children.
She feels passionately that it is in everyone’s interests that the needs of SEND families are truly understood by those who make decisions which will impact their lives and prospects. Lucy loves stories, spending time both reading and writing fiction and she is currently working on a supernatural novel for children!
I am a Parent carer of 2 children, son aged 12 and daughter aged 8. Eldest has diagnoses of Developmental Language Disorder and dyslexia. He attends a SEN secondary school.
I have moved around the UK with partner’s job, so I have had to navigate the challenges and complexities of working with 4 different LEAs and to ensure son’s education and support is consistent.
After having my children and moving to Surrey I worked in a SEN school, helping to support children who have complex social communication needs, ASD, ADHD, PDA, ADA and SPD. I completed training on communicating via PECs, social stories, and intensive interaction. I have also recently started an online course to improve my knowledge of Sensory Processing Disorder and how best to support individuals with sensory needs.
I have a keen interest in mental health and I am currently studying to become a counsellor. My aim after qualifying is to work with children and their families.
Any spare time I have is spent walking Bo (our 2-year-old very energetic cocker spaniel) reading and trying to build up the energy to go to the gym!
Lara is a Mother of an adopted SEND child, she has plenty of personal experience as a parent/carer and a legal background. She recently joined our team and works in the Borough of Spelthorne 5 hours a week. A fun fact about Lara is she can read Tarot cards! She is also a Neurographica Specialist and can cook and bake very well (mainly Italian) and occasionally sells her food.
Gretta joined Family Voice Surrey in September 2019. Gretta is an adoptive and birth parent of two children, one of whom has ADHD. She is a journalist and blogger and also works part-time as a support worker at a residential home for children with profound and multiple disabilities. She believes in working with education professionals to ensure that SEND children are given the support that they need, and in speaking up and acting when that support isn’t what it should be.
Sara is a mother of three teenage boys, the eldest being diagnosed with ADHDifference and ASD. As with most SEN parent carers, Sara is an advocate for her son and referee at home to ensure fair play.
She is passionate about helping to make a difference for SEN children and their families.
Sara is enthusiastic about encouraging better sibling relationships especially when there is a blend of additional needs to ensure everyone feels valued and is treated with respect. A balance that is not always easy to achieve.
Sara enjoys being in the great outdoors with her family, walking, photography and singing.
We hope that over the next few weeks you will meet them at some of the many events FVS are hosting – use this link to find one relevant to you and see which coordinator is hosting which event
Di became our Woking Coordinator in September 2019 and has lots of experience in ADHD, PDA, ASD, Anxiety and other learning difficulties. Di know a lot of parents around Woking as her son attended schools in several areas. Due to her personal experience she has developed extensive experience in ‘how to educate and integrate a child with SEND in school’. She has looked at/attended many different parenting and SEN courses and would like to study in this field at some point.