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Talk Autism Merton Parent Forum

Talk Autism is Merton’s forum for parents and carers of children, young people and adults with autism.

The aim of the Forum is to provide an environment of mutual support and education for parents and carers.

The Forum provides workshops and other support activities for parents and carers, to support them to achieve a better life for their son/daughter.

The Forum supports parents and carers to influence the development of service provision and planning in the borough, helping to ensure their voice is heard on local issues.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Tracy Blackwell
Contact Position
Talk Autism Administrator
Telephone
020 8687 4644
E-mail
kids.first@swlondonmencap.nhs.uk
Website
Mencap website
Parent Organisation

Time / Date Details

When is it on
10.00am to 12noon
Session Information
Meetings run throughout the year at various locations (term time only)

Other Details

Costs

Details
Free

Availability

Referral required
No
Referral Details

Parents wishing to join Talk Autism need to complete a registration form which can be downloaded from the website or by contacting the Talk Autism Administrator at Merton Mencap.

Local Offer

Quality Assurance
Affiliated to the Royal Mencap Society

Detailed Local Offer

1. Aims of the service

The workshops and activities provided by the forum focus on prevention of family breakdown (e.g. relationships counselling, sibling workshops, health and parenting skills topics).

The principal aims of the Forum are:

  • To support parents and cares in their role, providing information and advice which helps them to care for their son/daughter with autism
  • To support parents and carers to feel less isolated, providing the opportunity for them to feel they belong to a like-minded group.

A key aim of the Forum is to ensure that the Local Authority and Health services develop a positive view of the contribution parents and carers make, so they consult them on local services for them.

2. Location and delivery

All activities and workshops of the Forum take place at community locations in Merton, at times which are most convenient with parents and carers. 

The key aspects of the Forum are:

  • We hold regular education and training workshops to share ideas, develop skills, and discuss local services
  • We hold regular meetings with local service providers at which parents and carers have the opportunity to discuss their needs and issues with them
  • We run consultations with parents on general strategy and major changes which may be planned for services for people with autism e.g. cuts in services
  • We maintain our Talk Autism website pages so that they contain news about the forum and its activities and offers useful links
3. Who the service is for

Talk Autism is for parents and carers of children, young people and adults with autism in Merton.

4. Accessibility

Yes.  The Forum is accessible, inclusive and promotes equal opportunity in the following ways:

  • We will require all our staff to have training in equal opportunities and diversity
  • Our steering group is diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity are is our wider membership
  • We will ensure that our materials about the Forum are available in different formats for those who need it. We will also make arrangements to ensure families of all backgrounds can access our service and can be involved to the same extent (e.g. provide an interpreter).
  • We would not exclude any parent from this service unless health and safety grounds warrant it.
  • We promote the service at local events to attract as many local families as possible
5. Opening times and availability

The Forum runs all year round although activities are limited during the summer holidays, when parents and carers are usually unavailable.

Dates of meetings, workshops and activities of the Forum vary but they are arranged and published in advance (usually a term in advance).  We organise for the Forum’s activities to take place at a time of day to suit parents best.

6. How to start using the service

No Social Service referral is needed to access this service. Parents and carers wishing to join Talk Autism need only contact our Talk Autism Administrator at Merton Mencap:

Tracy Blackwell, Talk Autism Administrator
Tel: 020 8687 4644 
Email: kids.first@swlondonmencap.nhs.uk

7. Measuring our performance

We evaluate the impact that the Forum is having on parents by

  • consulting parents after every event via an evaluation form, and verbally - feedback is used to plan future forum activities
  • providing several means for the parents of the Forum to give us feedback.  We consult via email, via post, via telephone and we keep an issues log to keep track of parent views on our and other services
  • encouraging parents to be members of Merton Mencap (no fee) which means they can have an even a greater say about the way the charity is run
8. Quality assurance
  • We operate in a user-focused way, regularly evaluating Talk Autism with parents and carers
  • We negotiate favourable rates with all our providers (e.g. for premises, activities) so that the budget is managed carefully and we provide value for money 
  • We maintain records regarding parent volunteer’s training to ensure their personal development and we will provide all relevant training
  • The Forum is a project of Merton Mencap, which is required to adhere to stringent governance as part of our affiliation to Royal Mencap Society:
  • we have a comprehensive set of Standards, Policies, Procedures and Codes of Conducts which all staff and volunteers are required to adhere
  • our senior managers conduct internal audits each month, and report their findings to our Executive Board (trustees)
  • The managers of our services for children and young people contribute to local multi-agency meetings with providers of other services for children and young people in order to share information (consent allowing) to ensure high quality care planning for the child/young person
  • Merton Mencap is registered with OFSTED, in relevant cases
9. How we capture and use information to improve our service

All information received from families is stored securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

As stated in the sections above, our evaluations with parents and carers of the Forum are used to shape and develop our service.

10. Staffing

The Forum is run by a paid member of staff at Merton Mencap – the Talk Autism Administrator.

11. Staff training

All staff and volunteers receive mandatory training in Safeguarding Children, Health & Safety (manual handling) and Equal Opportunities & Diversity at a level a relevant to their role. 

At least one member of staff at all Talk Autism meetings has received First Aid training.

12. Staff qualifications (minimum)

We require our staff at Merton Mencap to be qualified at a level relevant to their role. 

In the case of the Forum, we require our staff to be familiar with the challenges facing parents and carers of children, young people and adults with autism

13. Quality assurance standards and membership of regulatory bodies

Merton Mencap is a registered charity (no. 1113444) and company limited by guarantee (no. 5692213).

We are affiliated to the Royal Mencap Society (www.mencap.org.uk)

14. Paying for the service

Merton Mencap receives a grant from Merton Council to run Talk Autism,

Membership is free to the join the Forum; all activities, workshops and meetings are also free to the parents.

15. Who to contact for further information

For further information about the Forum, please contact:

Tracy Blackwell, Talk Autism Administrator
Tel: 020 8687 4644 
Email: kids.first@swlondonmencap.nhs.uk

The Merton Mencap main office number, central email address and web site is:

Tel: 0208 646 0965
Email: info.merton@swlondonmencap.nhs.uk 
Web site: www.mertonmencap.org.uk (go to ‘Services for Parents & Carers’ and  ‘Talk Autism’

Last updated: 13/10/2020
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