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Circles Network is thrilled to offer another opportunity, for disabled people and the parents of school aged dis- abled children from across NI, to participate in an inter- nationally renowned leadership programme– Partners in Policymaking. Circles is a national voluntary organisation with an educational objective to build inclusive communi- ties. The aim is to support people who are experiencing social exclusion or are at risk of being isolated due to dis- abling barriers , to become involved in the full spectrum of community life. Graduation! What a difference a year makes!” The global Network of Circles finally reached across the Irish Sea and has initiated the first partnership for Change course in NI! And it has been a magical success! People came from every part of NI, surmounting difficul- ties of transport, domestic difficulties and difficulties of confidence, self-esteem and self belief! All came to learn how to be Partners, Partners for a change. Hearing the personal stories throughout the 8 months had been a humbling experience for all of us. Knowing we are not alone in our daily struggles, knowing now we have friends, know- ing there are other people facing the same struggles, knowing now we have friends to sup- port, encourage and guide us in our fights has made us all stronger, more resilient and more determined than ever before to form partnerships, to bring about substantive change. Change in society, change in our services, change in the minds of policy makers and perhaps more importantly of all, change in ourselves. Based on the rights and participation of disabled people, the Partners in Policy making programme will give participants the knowledge/tools necessary for them to work alongside policy makers as equals and to challenge the systems that ef- fect the lives of disabled people. It will develop commu- nity leaders who will work to build a fairer and more just society for all and create a ripple effect as more and more people share information, help each other and change things locally and nationally. “Wow! What a course! What wonderful people! What a Graduation! What a difference a year makes!”

The following is a quote from a man who graduated of the first partners programme to run in NI in 2004:

“Wow! What a course! What wonderful people! What a

If you are interested in participating in this programme, which is due to commence in April or know someone who may do please contact Wendy Buchanan on 028 668 5067 or email wendy@circlesnetwork.fsnet.co.uk

In October 04 Nigel Williams the Northern Ireland Commis- sioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) launched a campaign called “Shout tell us what you think now”. The Parenting Forum NI on behalf of NICCY consulted with twenty-one parent focus groups throughout Northern Ire- land. Parents were invited to inform the commissioner what they thought of the 14-draft priority areas, which the commis- sioner has identified for action. All of the 14 priorities have come from and have a basis from the United Nations Conven- tion on the Rights of the Child. Basically this means that children have rights in terms of how they live, how they are treated by others and are an equal part of our society. Parents were requested to list the five priorities, which were the most important to them. A report of the group’s find- ings was presented to NICCY on the 14th January Feedback provided by parents is recognised as an important contribution to determining how the work of the Commis- sioner will be shaped over the next three years. The results of the overall consultation process and what the commissioner’s priorities will be over the next three years will be published by the end of March and will be found online at www.niccy.org

More recently I have been consulting with parents on the 10 year children and young peoples strategy ‘MAKING IT R WRLD 2’from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. (OFMDFM) The strategy includes strategic goals in key areas affecting children and young people. The role of parents is recog- nised, as is the requirement for parent’s views to be voiced throughout the lifespan of the strategy. The overall ma- jority decision from participating parents who we consulted with on behalf of OFMDFM have indicated that the Parent- ing Forum NI should be the agency to support them and ensure that their voice is heard. We know that parents appreciate being consulted and to be part of a process which enables them to have the opportunity to inform pol- icy makers of their views.

My role as a development worker for the Parenting Forum NI is to represent the view of parents and to raise aware- ness of the important role parent’s play in the lives of their children. I am available to support an event you may have planned, and will come to talk to parents about the role of the PFNI please email moira@pachelp.org or phone 028 90310891

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