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PODS (Parents Opening Doors)

Parent Carer Forum

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What We Do

PODS was set up in 2008 as part of the Aiming High for Disabled Children Strategy from Central Government.  We are now completely independent having been supported by Parent Partnership in our fledgling years, for which we are very thankful.

PODS is a parent carer/peer led charity with staff and volunteers who have the relevant ‘real life’ experience to support families who have a child with a disability or additional need (aged 0 – 25 years). Parent participation is at the heart of the forum, as parent carers can pinpoint problems frequently experienced by families with disabled children. This knowledge is useful to professionals in helping to improve how children’s services are delivered so they better meet families’ needs. PODS continues to ensure communication links exist between these families and the strategic decision makers.

Research has proven the value of the Face2Face scheme across 31 areas of the UK, including Telford and Wrekin. At a local level the scheme has demonstrated the importance of one-to-one and peer-led support, particularly to families who have a newly diagnosed child and/or in times of crisis and transition.


What we do:

  • Hold family groups across Telford and Wrekin
  • Provide emotional and practical support via the Face2Face scheme
  • Run workshops and events relevant to the needs of PODS families.
  • Work in partnership with Telford and Wrekin Council, Health, Social Care, Education, Voluntary and Community Services.
  • Provide family representation at many local and national meetings, workshops and conferences and input to consultations, reviews and strategic planning. Click here to see a list.
  • Hold social and fundraising events for PODS families.
  • Provide relevant information via information events, family groups, e-bulletins, website and other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Work with Contact a Family, the national organisation that supports families of children with a disability across the UK, whatever their condition or disability
  • PODS is a member of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) and meets regularly with the West Midlands regions to share information and keep up to date with policies and affecting our children.
  • PODS members have spoken at conferences on personal experiences of life with a child with a disability and regarding parent participation.


Who benefits from PODS work?

There are 5 main groups of people who benefit from the work of PODS.

Parent carers of young people aged 0 – 25 years with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND):
Parent carers are supported to ensure that their views are heard around local and national issues regarding services and provisions. PODS ensures that the parent carer voice is carried to the decision makers. Parent carers are supported one-to-one or in groups to help reduce their sense of isolation and increase their level of resilience. They are provided with relevant information and offered training on issues that benefit their health, well-being and understanding, and ensure that they are able to access the services their child needs.

Volunteer Parent Representatives:
Parent carers are encouraged to become parent reps, as they will benefit through personal development. This enables them to take more responsibility and partnership in representing the parent carer’s perspective in meetings. This has been seen to increase their own levels of confidence, well-being and resilience.

Volunteer Trained Befrienders:
For those parent carers who have completed the basic Face2Face training, further training will be offered to enhance the skills that they can offer to other parent carers.

Parent carers who need support are supported by one-to-one Face2Face befrienders in their home. A much larger number of parent carers can access emotional and practical support at the family groups, where experiences can be shared.

Local and National organisations:
Organisations benefit through ongoing consultations with parent carers, as these organisations will ensure their services and provisions have the information they need to be able to effectively address the needs of SEND children and their families.