We are the voice for Parent Carers of children & young people 0-25yrs with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities in Bedford Borough.
We feed back your views to Education, Health, Social Care and other departments that provide SEND services.
We are passionate about improving services for our children & young people, we’ve all had different experiences so we need to hear your views.
We hold regular Coffee Mornings and other events for parents to come along, give their views and meet other parents. We also run training sessions for Parent Carers. If you would like to find out more or become a member please contact us or complete our online membership form here
Meet Our Steering Group
Kerri is Mum to Reece and Finlay. Reece has ADHD, moderate learning difficulties and severe dyslexia which has meant he has received an Education, Health and Care Plan. Finlay has a diagnosis of Dyslexia. Both of them have attended mainstream schools.
Kerri joined BBPCF as she wanted to inform and empower other parent carers of children with SEND as well as to take the voice of the parent carers to the people who make decisions about our children's lives.
In 2019 Kerri took over the role of Chair and hopes to keep challenging the system so that all of our children can achieve their goals.
Lee is currently Treasurer for BBPCF. He has lived in Bedford for 17 years moving here with his wife and two sons. His eldest is an Insulin dependent diabetic, an example of a hidden disability. He also had several issues whilst in the education system resulting in being in receipt of a full statement of needs and this has persisted into young adulthood.
This led Lee into becoming involved in his education, serving as a school governor and Chair of Governors at a variety of schools across Bedford, while Lee tried to understand what support he would get or was supposed to get. As well as highlighting the lack of support once school has finished. This led Lee into teaching, after spending 28 years in Banking and Finance, returning to University to qualify as a Primary Teacher currently holding a position of Year 6 teacher and Behavioural Lead at a local Primary Academy.
Lee’s interest in how those with more challenging issues navigate the education system and early adulthood has led him to being elected previously to serve on The Children and Young Peoples Select Committee as well as gaining experience on school admissions panels.
Val’s role is to maintain effective and efficient running of Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum (BBPCF) by co-ordinating all forum activity. Val joined BBPCF in 2014 and some of you may also know her from her work with Bedford Mencap and her involvement with Marlins Special Needs Swimming Club. Val also works with the Governors of BILTT which is the Multi Academy Trust comprising of St John’s, Grange and Greys Academies.
Val is mum to Alex (25) who has Dyspraxia and a Learning Disability. Alex attended Grange Academy and Bedford College. She now works part time at Sainsbury’s in Bedford and is enjoying earning (and spending) her own money! She is now moving towards independent living, spending one or two days a week away from home. Val has a special interest in young people with additional needs as they transition into adult life and attends various ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ meetings and events on behalf of the Forum.
Steering Group Member
Karen is Mum to 3 beautiful and funny children; Mia (born in 2006), Lois (born in 2007) and Noah (born in 2010). When Lois was born their family were unhappily and unwillingly thrust into the world of Special Needs. Over the course of Lois's short but complex life so far she has been diagnosed with severe quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, epilepsy, dystonia and is registered as being sight and hearing impaired. However, those who know Lois know that her disabilities are not what defines her... it is her fun loving personality and wicked sense of humour that everybody falls in love with! Lois is educated within a local special needs setting and enjoys a very active social life, which includes accessing mainstream and special needs activities.
In 2013, as Karen struggled through this scary world looking for ways to help Lois and ensure she has the best chance to enjoy a happy and healthy a life as possible, she came across the Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum. She immediately recognised the good work being carried out and signed up as a Parent Rep. In January 2014 Karen officially joined the staff team as the Forum's Parent Participation Worker then later changed roles to become the Membership Secretary. In June 2016 Karen had the great honour of being elected Chair of the Forum and enjoyed every minute of her 3 years of office... moving forward she is excited to see how she can as a steering group member and Vice Chair for the Eastern Region of Parent Carer Forums , along with the other forum members, continue to play a pivotal role in shaping services for our children and young people in the local area and beyond.
Steering Group Member
Mrunal is the Co-chair and East of England representative for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums.
However, Mrunal’s most important job is being dad to Arun and Meri. Arun was born very prematurely. He has cerebral palsy, autism and an insatiable lust for life.
In his previous life Mrunal worked in the financial sector for 18 years. He left the City in 2011 and since then has worked in the charity and public sector in a variety of roles.
In 2013, Mrunal was the first chair of the Bedford Borough Parent Carer forum which he helped to set up working with Lynn Hoppenbrouwers who did most of the hard work. Mrunal stepped down as chair in 2016 and handed over to the capable hands of Karen Russell who took the forum onto new heights. Mrunal is very pleased to serve as a steering group member and is passionate about the need for families to be heard and has witnessed the difference this makes to services for their children.
Jo is Mum to Neve who is 14 and Imogen who is 12. Neve has a chromosome 18 part duplication, a rare condition with approx. 350 in the world. She has severe global development delay, learning difficulties and ADHD. Although Neve Is able to walk short distances but she also uses her pink wheelchair, Neve is non verbal but uses some sign and also PECS as a communication tool but is very good at making it very clear what she wants. She is a very happy little girl with a cheeky streak to her. Neve has been going to St John’s Special School since 2009 when she was 3. Neve also uses Sunflower house, which is a respite facility on a regular basis. Imogen attends Lincroft Academy. Imogen is very sporty and plays for her village football team.
Jo works as a local childminder which she’s been doing for 8 years. In her setting Jo childminds children with a range of SEND Inc ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, Anxiety, and she looks after a young person with same disability as her own daughter who also attends St John’s School. Jo has been on St Johns PTA for past 11 years and been Chair for past 5 years.
Jo has watched BBPCF grow from the very beginning in 2012 until today, she has been Vice Chair since 2015 and she has loved every minute of it. Being part of an organisation who are the voice for our SEND children is an honour and a pleasure for her. It can be very challenging but Jo is always up for a challenge.
Trish Otoa Ayo
Trish is responsible for managing the organisation's communication channels and fostering effective engagement with diverse stakeholders, including parent carers, decision-makers, sponsors, and the wider community.
Trish's academic journey began with a Bachelor's in Information Technology from Makerere University in Kampala. Her initial job involved teaching IT at a Canadian not-for-profit organisation, where she later worked as the Corporate Relations Manager. She brings a wealth of knowledge to her position, drawing on her experience as the Events Lead for USAID projects in Uganda, JSI International in Uganda, and MEASURE Evaluation. Trish has a strong history in media relations and event management, and she has polished her abilities to plan memorable events and communicate clearly with a diverse range of audiences for impactful outcomes.
In 2015, Trish moved to the UK and had her son James a couple of years later. When James was two years old, he was diagnosed with West syndrome and later on, Autism and ADHD. Being a new settler in addition to being a first-time mum and having a child with additional needs, Trish desperately needed support and guidance in several parenting areas so she began attending coffee mornings at BBPCF. A couple of years later, she joined the team as a volunteer parent representative aiming to represent the views of parents from a wide range of backgrounds whose children have a wide range of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
In 2023, Trish attained her current position at BBPCF where she is known for her strong work ethic, and knack for results.
Besides her professional pursuits, She is a savvy entrepreneur, business owner, and creative fashion stylist. In her free time, she finds joy in spending time in nature and visiting new places with her 6-year-old son, James. Her devotion to family and caring for her adorable son reflects her passion for ensuring that every family, regardless of the challenges, can lead a fulfilling life.