Today I’m off on another, slightly different journey in both senses. This time a different train ride for a 6 part Special Guardianship support group facilitated by a SGO support worker and a therapist for 12 SG’s. I missed the first one as I was unwell, so I’m especially nervous today – Queue checking bag, train app and Google maps 101 times!
Chipmunk coincidentally is off on a journey of his own with school today, he’s off on the train to the science museum in London. Things are definitely not ‘normal ‘ in the house this morning. Constant questions about times and what’s happening when and nonsense charter is in full flow. No melt downs thankfully and I’ve been reassuring him, acknowledging his worries and wondering out loud to minimize the worries. Fingers crossed we get to the station on time for us both to go in opposite directions!
There’s something quite relaxing about traveling on an quiet train, whether it’s the steady rhythm or that I can look at the world going by I don’t know, but it’s nice. Although I’m nervous, I’m excited to meet some new SG’s. The opportunity to meet others is few and far between but doing so is invaluable. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone, to hear others experiences and share our knowledge. Of course online supports great, but not as good old fashioned face to face. I’ve also found that as SGO’s are relatively unheard of it can be rather isolating. Having to try and explain to people who have never heard of SGO’s what one is, is frustrating. It seems despite them being around for 14 years, even some professionals have never heard of them! I think that’s next on my SGO things to fix list! I’ve been lucky really as from the start I’ve had chipmunks little sister’s (miss unicorn 6) SG to talk to. Without her I would have gone crazy, or crazier maybe! She has had to put up with me moaning too, she really has been a Godsend.
Another fantastic and productive group! Only a couple of “Lack of LAC” SG ‘s of course nice to mix with all SG’s, but it’s nice to get the word out a bit more. The course, although described as a support group, had the feel that things we say will be taken seriously and maybe be used to effect change. Obviously we are only a small group, but it’s nice to think that we’re being listened to.The therapist co running the course said that he had hoped to help lack of LAC with this course, and I feel he will become a valuable contact.
Today we spoke about a lot, and I think I will continue my thoughts on a few of these things over the next week as I have lots to say! So we mainly covered Support, where do we find it? What do we have now? What do we want/need? Are our voices heard by professionals as ‘experts by experience ‘? Training, what have we had/not had/do we need? Do SGO’s work? What does? What doesn’t? How can we change things? Can we change things? What would we say to someone thinking about a SGO? What support could we offer them, support groups, buddy systems? And awareness off SGO’s, or lack of, and what can be done?
So, Support. Personally and the group majority response to this was we’ve had next to no support. I’ll speak from my experience, but it really is not much different from what the group said. When Chipmunk came to us and a SGO was mentioned, I had not heard of one (we’ll come back to this later) and so good old Google came in handy. That was our source of info to start. I asked our SW would we be able to speak to someone with a SGO, which wasn’t possible apparently (again we’ll come back to this later) so apart from the SW (and miss unicorn’s SG) that was it, so early support wasn’t great. It was hard speaking to family and friends about it as they didn’t know what it would mean and some family were not very supportive at that point. This was hard. I feel the lack of support was pretty much why I became ill a month before court, I’ve seen numerous consultants over the years to find a cause, but they have all said none can be found so 99% sure it’s been triggered by stress! The after support has not been great either, again this was the majority opinion in the group. We had help with BM supervision for contact for a year, but there wasn’t much support given. The SW stopped visiting and I think it’s assumed that as we’re family that we’ll be fine, so that was it really. We were given a contact number for the SG support team but over the years the SW’s leave and get replaced so if you ever call for help you have to explain all over again the confusing situation. We asked a couple of years ago for help as BM was demanding more contact. I called twice and they said both times they’d call back, but we didn’t hear anything. It was very stressful trying to negotiate without someone guiding us and it had a very negative impact on our relationships. Just over a year ago both myself and miss unicorn’s SG called them and practically called and called asking for help, BM was pregnant and we were in court for her wanting a variation of the CAO. We initially dealt with one of the 3 SG support worker supervisors but it became apparent that we needed more 1 to 1 help so were assigned a SW. Thankfully she was fantastic, and became a great source of support. Unfortunately 5 months later she changed department. After a few weeks trying to muddle through we were assigned another SW. I really didn’t have much faith that we’d be lucky enough to get good one, but thankfully we did. This one has been good support so far and is helping us with issues around BM, her baby and contact so fingers crossed he stays around for a bit! The internet has been good for some advice, but everything seems to be SG’s added into adoption websites, specifically grandparents ones (some SG’s are not grandparents) where SGO’s are among other grandparents advice, some are for all sorts of family issues. There isn’t anything just for SG’s. We found a Facebook group just for SG’s and we have a local Facebook group too which is slowly growing. There just is not enough awareness of SGO’s and without this the support cannot be there. You would have thought that with SGO’s being around 14 years old it would be better, and I long for the day when the words ”special guardianship orders”are known.
I shall try and talk about the other things discussed in the group later as I think I’ve bored you enough for today.