Who Are We?
Sarah Thomas (Trustee and Participation Co-ordinator)
I have been involved in developing parent carer participation locally, regionally and nationally since 2007 when I was a founder member of the Shropshire Parent and Carer Council (PACC). I was invited to join the task force to establish the National Network of Parent Carer Forums in 2010 and served as a representative for the West Midlands Regional Network of Forums and Co-Chaired the NNPCF for several years. I continue to support the development of participation nationally as an independent consultant.
My family moved to Shropshire in 2000, just after the birth of my second son, Owen, who was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder at the age of 3 months old. This experience changed our lives and we started a very different journey. I now have 3 birth sons and two foster sons and a wide range of lived experience in terms of SEND.
As a family we have benefited from the support of the SEND community, both locally and from further afield and I have learnt how important it is for families to be valued as true partners when planning support and services. This is why I have continued to support PACC and to promote parent carer participation.
Zara Bowden (Chair / Trustee and Communication and Outreach Lead )
Having a disabled child altered my life; my eldest daughter has cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. She is my inspiration and the source of my passion for improving parent carer participation and engagement. Until my daughter arrived I had worked in mental health, supporting the rehabilitation of people back into the workplace following significant emotional trauma. The world of additional needs and disability was still an awakening as I found myself entrenched in service areas that were both great and that needed improvement.
My main areas of interest are participation, brain injury, learning difficulties, SEN and disabilities, parent carer rights, information sharing and building community resilience.
I started working with the Parent and Carers Council Shropshire as a parent volunteer and attended the Face to Face befriender training, I then went on to support families in similar places that I had once been. I started to help out with a few more areas and was soon a fully engaged parent representative. I have worked extensively with the local authority in the development of the SEND Reform processes, having co-written elements of the EHC Plans and provided links to our forum network to ensure that their collective voice is heard, and in October 2014 secured the role of Local Offer Coordinator for Shropshire Council, a post i was extremely proud to hold for the three and a half years I was there.
I can say that PACC has grown into a very successful forum in the many years that I have been fortunate to be involved, and I hope to continue building on this success in my role as Communication and Engagement Lead.
I am also currently the Co-Chair of the West Midlands Regional Parent Carer Forum Network. My role in the region is to support the forums in the West Midlands to continue to build upon their own successes and to strengthen areas where we identify further support being required. I see my role as an opportunity to share my passion and enthusiasm, to enable others to engage more readily and effectively, and to ensure the West Midlands is at the forefront of change in the future.
At PACC we have recently added to our workload by also forming a key part of the Actio Consortium in Shropshire. We specialise in the commissioning and supporting the development of activities for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities. My core roles in the consortium are developing our communication and engagement processes, as well as strategic development of the organisation with a focus on community engagement. This builds on my role within PACC. It is a really exciting opportunity and will be a vital part of PACCs growth and ongoing development of participation in Shropshire.
If anyone wants to talk to me about anything other than SEND and Participation, I am also a qualified fitness instructor and run a Party/Mobile DJ business to keep me busy! So feel free to chat all things dance, music, and health/fitness with me too.
Abi Taylor (Administrative Support)
I started working at Shropshire PACC in May 2021, having previously worked in Community Pharmacies, in various Retail positions and Administration roles. I am a single parent carer to a son who is currently going through the process of an Autism diagnosis. I am one of 4 children, including a younger sister with Down Syndrome, and have a Rotti/Staffi called Pig.
In 2016 I found the balance of working full-time work whilst supporting my son to be too much and returned to university as a mature student to study Applied Psychology, graduating with a First BSC (Hons). I then completed a in Forensic Psychology.
My favourite part about working for PACC is getting to work with such amazing and supportive colleagues.
Cathy Williams (Adminstrative Support)
I am an Administrator for Shropshire PACC and have many years of admin experience in previous roles, including running a small family business.
My eldest daughter has a diagnosis of Dravet Syndrome and my youngest son, a diagnosis of ASD. I have a love of learning and completed a BA with Hons degree in Primary Education and Child Development and Learning as a mature student with a then toddler and teenager. After graduating, I worked as a teacher in Primary and more recently as a SEND Teaching Assistant delivering support, interventions, mindfulness groups as a mental health first aider and Maths Mentoring in Secondary school while studying for a maths teacher subject specialism course.
Throughout the pandemic we have shielded a clinically extremely vulnerable family member which has seen us overcome many challenges. I enjoy gardening, yoga and a good book!
Denise Glover (Parent Rep)
Here is a little bit about me:
When I first left school, I worked for an agency looking after children and people with disabilities before training to be a registered nurse. After qualifying I worked on a rehabilitation ward with a particular interest in strokes. I left the NHS to join the Stroke Association as a Family Support Organiser. I supported people and their families after their discharge home, often putting volunteers in place to continue support on a long-term basis. A couple of years later I became a Marie Curie nurse. After moving to Shropshire and having my second child, I became a child-minder, which was great fun. A few years later, I worked as a Teaching Assistant in a local Secondary School in the Special Educational Needs department.
I have been married for 31 years! We have 3 daughters: Lottie is 25 and works in conservation; Niamh is 21, she has ME/CFS for nearly 8 years, getting a diagnosis, treatment, and acceptance by people in general has been a real battle; Cari is 15 and has Downs Syndrome, she is funny, noisy, loveable, and stubborn – a very determined young person! She attends mainstream school and loves it.
Annie Taylor (Parent Rep)
-Married with 4 children and 3 grandchildren, and a very large dog
-21 year old daughter with down syndrome
-10 year old grandson with ASD
-Keen gardener and allotment owner
- Retired civil servant
- I love a list