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2019 has been a busy year for the Peer Support Network (PSN). At the start of the year the Network Coordinator, Esther, went on maternity leave, and we welcomed Jane to step in and support the network in her absence.

One of Jane’s first tasks was to set up a Facebook page specifically for the PSN, as it’s such a useful tool for enabling people to share or find out information. We’re steadily attracting supporters, but if you’d like to further help the network grow, then do pop over and ‘Like’ or share the page: https://www.facebook.com/PSNPAW/

We spent some time getting out and meeting other groups in the community, including attending coffee mornings with groups such as Impact and Special Kids Bexhill, as well as attending large community network events. We asked groups we met questions about the sort of issues they were facing within their caring roles, or support they felt was lacking, and we used their answers to inform the sort of PSN session we hosted in the future.

Common issues faced by families included lack of access to appropriate advocates when supporting children and adults with complex support needs. In response to this, we hosted a summit where we invited several organisations to come in and talk about their independent support and advocacy services. We also held a summer summit, where families came and discussed issues around Continuing Healthcare support, Supported housing options, Direct Payments, home educating and more.

We hosted multiple training sessions for families and professionals, including benefits advice sessions, art-based visual planning strategies, decision making/mental capacity training, and workshops around understanding challenging behaviour. In total, nearly 50 people benefitted from training sessions, and we are planning more sessions for 2020.

But it wasn’t all just “business”. We also invited families and organisations to supported viewings at our Coastal Currents Open Studios. As part of the open studios, artists from our Thursday and Friday group, Parachute Club, presented their work in a show that celebrated their unique working environments and diverse creative practices

We closed out the year with another event focussed around an exhibition, with a festive get-together at the De La Warr. We celebrated and toasted the skills, love and dedication that carers bring to their roles, before taking a look around the Mikhail Karikis ‘I Hear You’ exhibition. The installation comprises video portraits of caregivers, each of whom is captured in the act of attentive listening and communicating with the person they care for. The exhibition runs until 19th January 2020.

Looking forward to 2020, we already have a training workshop scheduled for January 29th around making a Will, setting up a Trust, and properly planning for the future when you are no longer there to care for the person you look after. We also plan to hold some Peer Support Sessions in 2020 aimed at bringing together sibling carers. To keep up to date with all the network news, and the events/training sessions we’re hosting, then sign up for our mailing list.

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