Stronger Together 02 – 2017
Stronger Together is a working group of parents and professionals working in partnership
with Bringing Us Together and Respond.
We received funding in February 2016 from the NHS England Engagement Team to
organise and run an event for parents who have loved ones in, or who have been in
Assessment and Treatment Units.
It was critical that this event was led by parents and the agenda set by the families.
In February 2017, we received further funding, again from NHS England, to run a further
event for parents who have had loved ones in (or still in) and Assessment and Treatment
We sent a flyer to our family networks advertising the event through social media and
email. Again, we had an overwhelming response from people interested in attending.
Parents applied on line and we contacted each person prior to the event via phone calls,
emails and Facebook to ensure we got to know everyone. This was important in holding
an event that was going to be an emotional roller coaster and where people would be
encouraged to share their hard hitting stories and experiences.
This was, again, a weekend to support families to network and to develop strategies to
help them to stay strong rather than resolving individual issues during the event.
The event on June 4th and 5th 2017 brought together parents from across the country
along with a group of facilitators. We also welcomed Sue North from NHS England and
Dame Christine Lenehan and Mark Gerraghty also came along to discuss their current
review into Residential Schools and how the families could engage with that.
We used the event to listen to each person’s story and provided guidelines to ensure that
everyone had the opportunity to share their experiences. We were able to include themes
determined by the families’ agenda and NHS England that had been set prior to the
During the weekend there were tears, laughter, emotional support, bonding, networks
and sharing of information. Some parents had never met another parent with similar
experiences, many had come feeling isolated, angry at the system, and some were not in
a good place emotionally.
The main themes gathered throughout the event included;
• What were the issues in parents attending an overnight conference
• What made them smile about their child or young person
• Why their child or young person was admitted to an ATU
• What they expected or hoped for when their child or young person was in the ATU
• What actually happened
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