Celebrating the work of Somerset’s first ever Young People’s Champions

SEND Young People's Champs

At the end of a very successful year, the first ever Young People’s Champions to work for Somerset County Council’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Engagement and Participation Team are heading to University.

Somerset has developed this pioneering way of working, providing work experience to young people and giving them the opportunity to shape the services they and others receive.

Ellen Collard and Shane Dangar were the first young people to take on the role early in 2015 and have worked with the Participation Officer, Jemma Lang, to ensure the voices of other children and young people with SEND are listened to.

Harry Tavare and Kiah Durham have been successfully appointed as Young People’s Champions for the coming year and will continue to lead the way for engagement and participation of children and young people with SEND in Somerset.

Since the team was established they have been involved in a number of projects that have helped improve the engagement of children, young people and their families:

  • Hosted an annual conference on the first anniversary of the SEND Reforms
  • Created ‘The Unstoppables’ – a forum that gives children and young people with SEND a chance to have their say on things that matter to them
  • Developed online learning modules raising awareness of SEND and the SEND Reforms for Somerset County Council staff
  • Produced videos which gave children and their families a chance to talk about their experiences of SEND

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “I’d like to thank Shane and Ellen for their inspirational involvement in shaping how we engage with children and young people. They have changed the thinking of many members of staff, and my own thinking, on how we involve children and young people in shaping our services. Good luck to them in all of their future endeavours.

“I’d also like to welcome Harry and Kiah to the team. I’m sure that they will continue this important work with the enthusiasm and creativity of their predecessors.”

Ellen will be attending Cardiff University to study Medicine while Shane is heading to Lincoln University to study Special Educational Needs & Inclusion.

The SEND Engagement and Participation Team have a Facebook page. Follow them by visiting www.facebook.com/sendparticipationteam