It’s January, for some of us this is a time of hibernation – preserving energy and warmth after a busy Christmas. For Suzie Franklin and Helen Sanderson it is a time for reflection on all the good things about 2013 and to look forward to what lies ahead in 2014.
We asked Suzie what was the best thing about 2013? “Lots of great things happened last year but the thing that I am most proud of are the achievements of my daughter Jennie, the success of her Circle of Support and the launch of our book which captures this journey.”
Suzie co-wrote the book Personalisation in Practice with Helen Sanderson and they launched it at a Community Circles event in November last year. Jennie officially launched the book by cutting the cake and to her delight receiving a rapturous round of applause from on-lookers.
Jennie’s story of transition from school to living independently describes how person-centred practices, a personal budget and a Circle of Support have enabled her to live the life she chooses. Jennie is a bright, independent young woman who has autism and learning disabilities.
Suzie explains why they chose to launch the book at an event for Circles of Support: “Jennie’s Circle of support is made up of a small group of people that care about Jennie; her health, happiness and wellbeing. We meet about every two months and discuss the areas of Jennie’s life that need support. We use our collective knowledge and networks to ensure that we have the very best information and that Jennie has access to whatever support she needs. Since forming, Jennie’s Circle has supported her through leaving college, getting her own personal budget and moving into her own – rather lovely – flat. I have no doubt that Jennie has achieved everything she has achieved because of the powerful way that her Circle works, the way it supports her and our whole family. Helen is also in Jennie’s Circle and I describe this in detail in our book so it made absolute sense to launch it at this event.”
Helen Sanderson is CEO of Helen Sanderson Associates and co-founder of Community Circles, a small and passionate group of people using person-centred practices to develop Circles of Support at scale so that more people can benefit. We asked Helen who should read the book Personalisation in Practice? “We wrote it for anyone supporting children and young people with disabilities as they approach adulthood, including parents and carers, SENCOs, teachers, social workers and service providers. As well as describing Jennie and Suzie’s personal journey, which I’m sure many will relate to, it is a great informative resource for those seeking a better understanding of how personalisation and person-centred planning work in practice.”
So that’s what was great about 2013, we ask Suzie what the future holds in the year ahead? “More of the same I hope! Jennie is going from strength to strength and this year her Circle is supporting her to ensure she is truly connecting with her friends and community, continuing with her job (dog walking which she loves) and looking at setting up a social enterprise so she can make and sell some of her artwork and home made gifts and cards. My own personal ambition is to show what can be achieved through Circles and to support other families through things like personal budgets and transition by sharing with them what we have learnt in our book. I hope that people find the book to be a useful resource but also that they get comfort from it, that they are not alone in this journey. Having the sole responsibility of supporting your child, who has autism and/or learning disabilities can feel very lonely and there is often a fear associated with what the future could hold. It doesn’t have to be this way though – and that is my hope for 2014 – that more people feel as positively about the future for their children as I do.”