Representing yourself through the SEN system....
This is no mean feat.
The tribunal courts say you can do it yourself - but it ain't that easy.
Firstly, it's about your son or daughter - no one seems to consider how MASSIVE this is. You are not simply fighting for the sake of fighting. Unfortunately, I have witnessed some professionals doing it for the 'win' rather than for the sake of the child, and this is terrifying to see.
This adds humongous amounts of pressure. It feels like all or nothing. You keep thinking about the 'what ifs'. What if the tribunal do not see your side of things? What if they do not recognise the absolute torture you have been through? What if they turn a blind eye to all those missed deadlines, lack of support (legal duties being breached), lack of assessments since the time your child was diagnosed.... the list goes on and on and on....
And what about those emails you received via the SAR, which speculate that you're just a fussy parent? A 'problem' parent in some cases?
It is torment after torment, and no one seems to get it. Now the whole of your child's world is on your shoulders and all you want to do is curl up in to a ball and cry.
It is ok to cry. But you should not have to. The system should not make you feel so small that you have no where to turn. Unfortunately many cases I work with have made families feel like this.
But apparently, the system says you can do it by yourself, without legal representation (or any representation)......
Even if you are faced against barristers that the LA has employed.....
.......Even though the tribunal system is manually handled, and results in hours upon hours which amounts to days and weeks of your time, and you have a full-time job - you can do it apparently!
For some you simply do not have a choice other than to do it yourself. You don't have the budget, or you know that you'll need to save it for another 'battle' next year. Perhaps you have more than one child with SEN. It would be unfair to blow it all on one child but what are you meant to do?.... The decisions you have to make are like no other and no one else can possibly understand.
The situation is dire, there's no other way to put it. I would like to present things in a more positive light, but that would be misleading.
So how do we deal with such a dire system? What Bright Futures do, is educate and empower. So, although we can not change how things currently operate, we can try to support and give you that bit of top-up fuelling you need to continue and carry on. We are a friend at the end of the phone; we are the tenacity and the strength you need to remember why you are doing it; we are the stability you need in a significantly unstable time.
BUT, we are not gods. We can not change the system, and sometimes we can not even predict what is going to happen. We do not sell ourselves on 'winning'. And that is not because we are not 'successful'! Its because Bright Futures does not get its 'kick' out of simply 'winning', we get our 'kick out of doing good and having a positive impact in a number of ways (from lifting the stress of the process, to changing a child's life). Ultimately, we are about being a human in an alien and dehumanising system; we are about supporting you to achieve the best possible outcomes for your child; we are about determination, drive and strength when you feel like you are going to sink. We are about knowledge, experience and expertise. We are about personality, positivity and kindness.
We are devoted. We carry your little'uns' worlds on our shoulders with such care, pride and responsibility. We take it all so seriously it consumes us. Our values are so so important to us, and our business would not exist without them. We have set up Bright Futures in order to use the majority of our waking time, to have an impact. We hope you feel it. And we hope that together with empowering, educating and emotionally supporting one another, we can make a little difference.
So, in our plea to expand our services to reach more people that are representing themselves through a complex and emotionally-draining process, we have some webinars on offer.
We hope they help, All the best, Ruth and the Bright Futures Team