Who are the Sunderland Parent Carer Forum?

Question mark

First and foremost,  we are all parent carers or grandparents of children and young people who have a special education need and/or disability; we voluntarily run the forum in our spare time. 

We are a parent led, voluntary group of parents, carers and grandparents of children and young people (CYP) aged 0-25 with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities);  our CYP have a variety of SEND.

♦ Our aim is to give parent carers a voice in how services for CYP with SEND are shaped and delivered in the City of Sunderland, as well as an opportunity to come together and talk in a relaxed atmosphere.

♦ We do this by organising events, coffee mornings, information sessions and training events.  Our parent reps attend meetings with various organisations in health, education and social care, as well as local charity groups.

♦ SPCF are one of 152 parent carer forums in England who are members of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums; the NNPCF has 9 regions, and we are part of the North East & Cumbria Region PCFs.

♦ Our parent reps attend regular regional meetings; the regional chair person regularly attends meetings in London, currently virtually!.  Parent reps also get the opportunity to attend regional and national conferences.

♦ Everyone on the steering group is a parent rep, but some also have additional roles such as chair person. We arrange training for new parent reps if required, and buddying up with more experienced members.


Sunderland Parent Carer Forum are part of the NE & Cumbria Regional Parent Carer Forum (13 forums), and we are all part of the National Network of Parent Carer Forum, which consists of over 150 forums all over England.  We meet regularly with other forums in the region, for support, advice, training opportunities and news about what is happening in the area.  Each region has a national rep, who attends meetings in London, feeding back what is happening in their region, and bringing back the latest news and developments to the region. Every year there are regional and national conferences that forum members are invited to attend, giving us all another chance to catch up with parent carers from around the region and country.


This means that parent carers in Sunderland can, and do influence SEND services locally, regionally and nationally.

Meet the team

Anita Cutts


Julie Coulson

Finance Officer/Co-Chair

Paula Wooton


Jo Fenwick

Parent Rep

Sue Dunn

Parent Rep

Mel Ogle

Parent Rep

Tracey Huggins

Parent Rep

Maureen Morris



Parent Reps?  Chair?


This is a very brief overview of the various roles in the Sunderland Parent Carer Forum.  If you wish to find out more, or play a more active role, please join us one of our coffee mornings, or email us at spcfoffice@sunderlandpcf.co.uk.


The role of parent representatives (reps) is to inform decisionmakers about the experiences of parents and to ensure that parents’ views are fed into decisions about children’s services at a strategic level. Through this process, parents and practitioners reach a common understanding about effective services for disabled children. Their combined information and perspectives result in joint planning that leads to more effective services.  We only ask a parent rep to go to meetings with practitioners/service providers if they feel confident enough and happy to do so, and whenever possible, we send 2 parent reps. Other duties of the parent reps include helping out at events, promoting the forum and talking to other parent carers.


Very briefly, the role of the Chair can include arranging steering group meetings and ensuring they are run efficiently; they may also represent the Forum at external events.  The Chair leads the forum and supports members to make a decision on agenda items. They also ensure governance documents are kept up to date and adhered too.


The role of the Co-Chair is very much the same as the Chair.


The Finance Officer includes responsibility for controlling, monitoring and accounting for the groups finances; keeping records of invoices and receipts, ensuring grant monitoring is returned on time and reporting to the steering group on the groups finances.


The Administrator responsibilities include arranging events and booking rooms, dealing with correspondence, recording meeting minutes, website and social media content, answering queries from parent carers and providers.


Parent Carer Members (i.e. YOU)- the backbone of every parent carer forum, feeding their views and experiences to the steering group, so that the steering group can then effectively represent them when attending meetings.