Monthly Archives: November 2018

New Provision for Children and Young People with ASD/ SEMH – meeting for parents

A meeting took place at Sarum Academy on 9th October for parents of children attending Sarum Academy, and Wiltshire Council has planned a follow-up meeting for all parents interested in this new provision. The meeting will take place at Sarum Academy on 7th December from 12:00pm to 1:30pm.

Alan Stubbersfield (Project Lead for Wiltshire Council) as well as a representative from Wiltshire Parent Carer Council will be among those attending the meeting.

This meeting has been planned to enable parents to ask questions, especially as some questions asked at the session in October went beyond what could be answered at that stage. The aim of the meeting will be to listen to parents and what they want to know about this new ASD/SEMH provision, and be as clear as possible about the long term as well as what is happening sooner.

It would be helpful to know how many people want to come, so please confirm your attendance by contacting Springfields School at by the 5th of December 2018.

Special Schools Update 22nd November 2018

Written by Wiltshire Parent Carer Council:

As a result of consultation (a pre-statutory consultation was approved by Cabinet and ended on 31st July 2018, this included an online consultation) on the options to expand capacity in special schools for pupils with complex needs presented to Cabinet in May 2018, a report setting out proposals to invest £20million in state of the provision will be presented to Wiltshire Council Cabinet on Tuesday 27th November 2018.

In considering contributions from all stakeholders (including parent carers, children and young people), the proposal will be to recommend an option to provide a special purpose built school with well-equipped small classes on a spacious site, with separate post 16 provision and a commitment to develop centres of excellence for children and young people with SEND across the county. The recommendation is that once the new school opens in approximately 5 years’ time, the existing three special schools in Chippenham, Trowbridge and Rowde will be replaced by the new school.

Additional to this provision, it is also proposed to work in partnership with Somerset Road Education Trust to develop the provision at Exeter House School, Salisbury to become a centre of excellence for the south of the county. The proposal will address the need for an additional 220 SEND places for Wiltshire while providing a number of features including:-

  • Specialist integrated facilities, therapies and support which stakeholders voiced during consultation and engagement as particularly important, such as hydrotherapy pools, sensory rooms, physio, open outdoor space, speech and language therapy and family care
  • Closer links between SEND schools and neighbouring mainstream schools 
  • Links with specialist nurseries offering children with special needs a seamless experience from very small to teenage years

This aspiration is not dissimilar to the approach taken in BaNES some years ago which resulted in the amalgamation of three smaller special schools (Royal United Hospital School, Summerfield School, and Lime Grove School) and the building of Three Ways School. Three Ways School is judged an Outstanding school by OfSTED and is popular with many Wiltshire families. The report acknowledges responses to consultation and engagement which includes messages about the importance of quality of staff, supporting young people to develop skills for adult life, the importance of design so that spaces and a school don’t feel too big, Rowde was the preferred location for siting a new school, the need for a wide range of facilities, and the importance of travel.

The WPCC recognises that parents have said that they would like to be involved in the design and planning of any new building, and we have expressed this. Later in the report, there is an explanation of the different options that have been explored including the consideration of different sites within the county, and particular mention has been made to the Ashton Street site which the report says was given particular support from parent carers and governors of Larkrise School (Appendices 5 and 6 of the report explain the considerations of the different sites explored.

The WPCC recognises that this is significant investment that is much needed to meet the ever increasing demands on special school provision in Wiltshire and the proposal seeks to address the contributions from stakeholders such as aspiring to provide integrated therapies within a purpose built environment, create centres of excellence to support neighbouring mainstream schools, develop facilities such as a café and gardens to integrate the community into the school and provide young people with an increased range of transferable skills, and increase capacity so that fewer children have to travel to schools in other authorities or be home educated if that is not their preference.

However, the WPCC also recognises that in aspiring to provide pupils with SEND with the best facilities, the best teaching and the best learning environment where they can thrive, the proposal, will create anxiety for some families and we don’t in any way want to underestimate this.

The WPCC will continue to provide as much information as possible to keep parent carers informed and we are assured by Wiltshire Council, that whatever the Cabinet decision is, there will be many further opportunities to continue to be involved in conversation. Please also see the Q&A document we are maintaining on our website that responds to questions being raised by parent carers: Q&A. You can find more information about the Cabinet meeting and read the full proposal paper HERE.

Christmas Concert

You are all invited to Amesbury Methodist Church on Thursday 20 December for the Music Group’s Christmas Concert. Doors open at 10am for 1030. We will be enjoying mince pies and a hot drink after the performance to which are all welcome. The event finishes at midday.

Amesbury Methodist Church, 13 High Street Amesbury, Salisbury SP4 7ET. Park in the nearby pay and display car park.

Faith Walker

Members of South Wilts Mencap have been very saddened to hear of the death of their dear friend Mrs Faith Walker whilst in Salisbury District Hospital. It seems especially sad that in the last few months we have lost Hazel Cheesman, who did so much to help SWM to create the much loved Breakaway programme, and now Faith, whose great talents set the framework for our holiday and leisure programme that is so beloved by our members.

Faith served the local learning disability community in many ways:

  • she was an exceptional owner and manager of Willow House residential home in Amesbury for many years
  • people will remember her being part of our protests at the cuts in the College provision in 2006, which ended up with a petition delivered to Downing Street.
  • she served for a time as a Trustee
  • we must not forget she set up the very successful music group run by Frances in Amesbury that is still as popular today as it was when Faith started it.
  • and many people will remember the grand ball Faith organised at the Guildhall that helped celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2008: Faith knew how much “our guys” love to party!

Nigel Scott remembers that “SWM used to hold a Mencap “Fayre” on a Saturday morning once a year at the Guildhall and invite related charities to take a stand, publicise their work and sell what they could.  SWM had the biggest stall and also did the catering, selling coffee and cakes.  Faith was the organiser and charmed everyone to participate.”

But perhaps it is her time with Breakaway that was her most special contribution. Indeed it was Faith, together with the members, that came up with the name Breakaway.

When in the mid 1990s Hazel helped persuade the Mencap trustees to find a way of allowing our members to go on holidays to places of their choice, it was a struggle to work out how to do it. In the very beginning it almost failed, and Social Services stepped in to rescue one trip that otherwise would have had to be cancelled.

Jan Baylis took over for a while and showed us this kind of programme was what people really wanted, but it was when Faith offered to take on the running of the programme that the programme really took off and took the shape that it still has today.

Faith’s absolute respect for people with learning disabilities meant that the places we went on holidays were the places where people told us they wanted to go, and their wishes were always paramount. If people wanted to disco until 2 in the morning then that is what they did. It was Faith who built up the team of support workers and who wrote the first handbook of procedures to keep everyone safe, as well as leading almost all the holidays herself. Everyone who went on a trip will remember lovely, elegant Faith, always stylish, and always at the centre of all the fun. Catherine has built wonderfully on Faith’s legacy but we all know how much she was able to build on what Faith had established.

One more remarkable thing about Faith was the depth of skill and knowledge she had of how to support people. Her ability to understand just what was creating stress and anxiety in someone away from home and familiar surroundings, and exactly how to calm that person while making sure everyone else was having a great time, was skill of the highest order.

Faith has had poor health in recent years and so may not be known to younger members, but the legacy she created continues. She was much loved and will be missed.

Faith Walker’s funeral will be at Salisbury Crematorium on Thursday 6th December at 12:15.

Carers Support Wiltshire Live Webinars

Do you need help with managing your finances? Thinking of looking for a job but don’t know where to start?

This Carers Rights Day (30th November) Carers Support Wiltshire are running 2 webinars on their Facebook page. Join in to hear practical advice from their friends at Zurich.

Follow their facebook page and on Friday 30 November at 10am and 2pm you can watch the live webinars.

Get Wiltshire Walking

“Get Wiltshire Walking” is a Public Health funded project which aims to ensure every community within the county has access to a FREE weekly led walk.

Walking is the lowest risk of all physical activities yet produces massive benefits to physical fitness and mental wellbeing. This is a great way to explore your own local area and can be a really excellent way to make new friends and learn more about your immediate community.

Read their Autumn 2018 Newsletter here

Currently there are 26 weekly led walks in 18 locations throughout the county, there is no limit to the number of walks you may attend. Each walk has its regular starting venue on the same day and time every week. We try to vary the routes each week. Strider walks are almost continuous and last between 60 and 90 minutes across variable terrain and may contain some gradients. Stroller walks last between 45 -60 minutes with regular pauses and are on variable terrain. Starter Walks last around 30 minutes and are on flat stable terrain with frequent pauses.

After the walk many groups have coffee and chat together. Providing you are independently mobile and able to meet the physical demands of the walk everyone is welcome. Unfortunately we cannot permit dogs on the walk.

More details about the Get Wiltshire Walking Scheme are here 

Details for the Amesbury Starter Walk on Tuesdays are here. or Stroller Walk here

Details for the Salisbury Strider Walk on Wednesdays are here.


Healthwatch Wiltshire – resident’s survey

This survey will help give Healthwatch Wiltshire a flavour of what they do well and what they can improve on, as well as giving them ideas of where they can go to listen to more people about their experiences.

Healthwatch Wiltshire is here to:

  • help people find out about local health and social care services
  • listen to what people think of services
  • help improve the quality of services by informing organisations who run services and the government what people want from health and care services
  • encourage people who run health and care services to involve the public in any changes

To find out more please visit their website

Healthwatch Wiltshire are undertaking a piece of work to find out the following:

  • Have people have heard of Healthwatch Wiltshire?
  • How Healthwatch Wiltshire can improve their engagement with the local community?
  • What works well and what needs improvement in health and care services?

These results will then be looked at and feed in to their work plan for next year.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Healthwatch Wiltshire on 01225 434218.


Fairfield Farm Youth Club

Fairfield Farm Youth club is for young people aged between 14 and 24 years, to get together, have fun and make new friends.

It is currently every Thursday in term time, 7 – 9pm and costs £3. Come along and join the fun! Make sure you give “Friends of Fairfield” Facebook Page a like to keep up to date with all the latest goings on around the college.

College staff facilitate and supervise Youth Club attendees and activities. Fairfield Farm cannot provide specific or additional support to attendees, this type of support must be provided by the young person by way of a Personal Assistant or external Support Worker.

Youth Club Application form – Click to download
Youth Club Planner of Events:  September to December 2018 – Click to download

Fairfield Farm, 43 High Sreet, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, BA13 4DL
Contact Person: Helen Beer
Telephone 01373 866066 Email

La Folia Launch ‘Celebrate Life’ CD

Over recent months, musicians from La Folia have been collaborating with students on the Foundation Course at Wiltshire College University Centre Salisbury to create Celebrate Life: an album of original songs exploring what it means to be alive.

All are welcome to join us for the launch of the CD, where there will be an opportunity to meet the students and musicians, hear some of the songs performed live and purchase copies of the CD just in time for Christmas!

The launch takes place on Wednesday 28 November 2018, 6.30pm at Salisbury Arts Centre

Admission is free but booking essential. Please email to reserve your place.