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Campaigning in your local area

Photo: There are many ways to become involved at a local level

There are many ways that you can bring about change for deaf children in your local area. From joining forces with other parents or groups in your area, to influencing local services or contacting decision-makers.

If you have any questions about a local campaign you’re running, or you want to let us know about an issue for deaf children in your area – please get in touch.

Our interactive map is a good starting point to find out more about what’s happening with deaf education services in your local area. It shows important information about local services (for example, the number of Teachers of the Deaf) and lets you compare this to other areas. The map also has easy actions you can take to drive change for deaf children where you live.

There are over 100 local deaf children’s society groups. They are often passionate about campaigning to improve the lives of deaf children. If you’re looking for supporters for a local campaign, why not find your nearest local group and ask them to get involved.

If you’re interested in making things better for all deaf children in your area, there are lots of ways that you can get involved with shaping local services.  

Children’s Hearing Services Working Groups (CHSWGs)

CHSWGs bring together representatives from services supporting deaf children and their families to make sure that the different services work well together and give the best possible support.

Each CHSWG usually includes representatives from health (like audiologists and paediatricians), newborn hearing screening programme staff, teachers of the deaf, speech and language therapists, social workers, local charities and representatives from the National Deaf Children’s Society.

CHSWGs operate across England, Scotland and Wales, and usually meet three or four times a year. We are also beginning to see similar groups forming in Northern Ireland, and expect to see more starting up in the next year. Being a parent representative on a CHSWG means that you can use your first-hand experiences and unique overview of services to help shape the support for deaf children and their families in your area. It's really important that parents get involved so that services understand what the needs of deaf children and young people in their area are.

If you're interested in joining your local CHSWG, please get in touch with our local engagement team. We can link you up with the CHSWG in your local area and give you tips and advice to get the most out of the meetings. 

We also run regular training sessions for parents where you can find out more about CHSWGs and how to get involved with them. 

If you're already attending meetings and would like to link with other parent representatives via social media, then there is a dedicated Facebook page run by parents that you can ask to join.

Parent carer forums

A parent carer forum is a group of parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in a local area. They work in partnership with their local authority to help shape and improve services in education, health and social care for families locally.

It's vital that parents and carers of deaf children join parent carer forums, so that the needs of deaf children are represented in your local area. They are also a great way of finding out about local groups and activities.

Visit Contact’s website to find your local parent carer forum. When you join your local forum you will start to receive information, and you can then decide if you want to get more involved. You can commit as much time as you want to the forum.

Become a school governor

School governors help shape the direction that a school takes – and this can be a really good opportunity to influence your child’s experiences at school.

Part of the role of a governor is to be a 'critical friend,' supporting the school but also challenging it and holding it accountable. Governors get to have a say in just about every aspect of how the school is run – from how much homework children get to the way bullying is handled. Being a school governor is a unique chance to share yours and your child’s experiences, and help make sure that schools are welcoming places for all deaf children.

Read more here about becoming school governor and how to register your interest.

Sensory Support Service Steering Group

Some local authorities invite parents of deaf children to be part of the Sensory Support Service Steering Group. This can be a great way to share yours and your child’s experiences and to be directly involved in shaping the service.

Not every local area has a steering group. Speak to your child’s Teacher of the Deaf, or take a look at your local council’s website, to find out if there is one where you live.

The Local Offer in England

Every local authority in England is required to have a Local Offer, and to make sure it’s available for everyone to see. The Local Offer gives children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), and their families, information about what support services are available in your local area.

Every local authority must talk to children and young people with SEND, and their families, to decide what to include in the Local Offer. It’s important that parents of deaf children give feedback to their Local Offer, to make sure that support for deaf children and young people is include. Take a look at your local council’s website to find your Local Offer and how you, or your child, can get involved.

Healthwatch in England

Healthwatch are an independent service that monitor health and social care services in your local area. They listen to people’s experiences with services in the local area and use this to make sure that NHS leaders and other decision makers take onboard this feedback and improve standards of care.

For health services to change and be better, they need to hear from the people who use the service. If you have a concern, or more general feedback, about health or social care services that your deaf child uses, it’s important that you let Healthwatch know.

There is a Healthwatch in every area of England. Read more about how to get involved with Healthwatch – and find your nearest Healthwatch here.

Patient and Client Council in Northern Ireland

Patient and Client Council works in partnership with the people of Northern Ireland to help shape the future of local health and social care services – and to ensure that your voice is heard by the decision makers.

If you have a concern, or more general feedback, about health or social care services that your deaf child uses, it’s important that you let your local Council know.

Find out more about how you can get involved with Patient and Client Council in Northern Ireland – and find your nearest Council here.