Janet Brown (Chair)
During my working life I was a primary school teacher. I taught in several different types of primary school with very different types of children. After several years of teaching I was offered a year’s secondment to study for an Advanced Diploma in Education in Cambridge. Then I became a headteacher of a small village primary school and later the headteacher of a larger and very different school with many social problems.
Throughout this time I had always been an active member of my local Mencap group. After my retirement I worked for them part time as their general manager and their Play and Activity Respite Scheme leader. These two jobs gave me great insight into the lives of people with a learning disability and their families.
I served as the Chair of Mid Essex Community Health Council. I was also appointed by the Essex Health Authority as a lay monitor to oversee the move of people from the former long stay institutions into community residential settings.
Later I was to become the Chair of my local group and a trustee of Royal Mencap and Golden Lane Housing.
I have been a member of the Essex Partnership Board for twelve years.
Whilst my sister-in-law, who was born with Down’s syndrome was alive, I was her joint carer for several years. She lived in a variety of homes from a residential local authority hostel to her own home in the community. In her later years she lived in supported living accommodation and I was and am still closely involved with the management team. Whilst she was in a residential care home in the later part of her life I made regular visits to her. These experiences made me aware of the necessity of purpose built housing and quality care and support.
Jane is originally from London but has now settled into village life in Newport in Essex. She has two children, a son 19 and a daughter 16. Jessie has additional complex support needs which include educational, physical and medical. Jess has lots of labels, but a few favourites are :- beautiful, gorgeous, giggly, life changer, pathfinder, mood lightener and best of all ‘the light of my life’ Jessie goes to the local mainstream secondary school and is shortly due to start her post 16 education within the schools sixth form which will be as challenging as ever!
Jane has recently experienced the process of becoming Jessie’s deputy, and oversees Jessie’s personal health and social care individual budget.
Jane has been supporting parents of disabled children and adults since 2004 when she brought Partners in Policymaking to the Eastern Region. She has always been a huge advocate for inclusion and believes that every child should be educated together regardless of their disability.
Jane formed the Essex Carers Network, which supports parents/carers of a person with a learning disability within Essex – she is thrilled that the ECN will celebrate 10 years of supporting next year! She has also been chair of the Uttlesford Local Action Group and was instrumental in setting up the Parent Carer forum Families Acting for Change in Essex (FACE). Jane now works for IPSEA organising training in Special Educational Needs Law for new volunteers for IPSEA’s advice lines, local authorities, schools, parent support groups and individual parents across the country. Jane firmly believes that knowledge is definitely power and one of the most effective ways to empower parents is by training parents of young people with SEN in Special Educational Needs law. Courses support parents to understand how the education system works and to navigate their way through the statutory assessment process, which ultimately ensures that their child receives the right educational provision.
Should there be any spare time left over, Jane enjoys good food, fine wines and outdoor theatre.
I live in Chelmsford with my beautiful 19 year old daughter Chloe. She is my joy! This journey through life is varied and continues to bring many blessings and lessons. I enjoy listening to music, singing and dancing and I am thankful for my background in Alternative Therapies as I find that sustains my caring role for my daughter.
Almost five years ago I became a graduate of Partners in Policymaking. Since then I have been involved more with disability and parent participation, etc. I continue to evolve and my daughter benefits from a wider circle of friends too! Essex Carers Network has given me another chance to share my experiences and ensure that empowerment of our families grows stronger via the network.
To crown it all Essex Carers Network allows me to continue to explore different avenues of enriching our lives and giving Chloe a much deserved chance to be part of society without fear and trepidation.
I sat on a wide range of Partnership Boards and working parties to make sure that carers and disabled peoples’ views were put at the forefront of statutory services and with the support of my local MP’s set up a Disability Awareness Award where the Award winners were presented with the Awards in the House of Commons.I consider that Essex Carers Network is a vital link between carers and statutory services and look forward to supporting them in such important work.
Apart from 2 years in London I have always lived in Essex moving from the south to the north of the county in 1985. I have lived in Harwich for the last 25 years with my husband and then later on we added our 2 wonderful sons to our family. Both George and Harry have additional support needs. They are now young adults and both have personal budgets which they use to help them gain greater independence and find their way in life.
I undertook the Partners in Policymaking course in 2005, which is a family leadership course, this changed my life and that of my family. I have been coordinating the Essex Carers Network (ECN) since November 2007, I relish my role in making sure that carers have the information they need to support their family member to have a good life. I work to ensure the voice of our carers is heard at boards and meetings, thus influencing policy and service development in Essex. In addition I am part of the regional carers forum and the national valuing families forum (NVFF) thus making sure our carers voices are heard at a regional and national level and that our views and experiences have an impact.
In a voluntary capacity I have been part of Families Acting for Change in Essex (FACE) which is the parent participation forum in Essex for parents of disabled children. FACE and ECN work closely together to ensure families are heard.
I am also a member of the executive board of Healthwatch Essex. This is an independent organisation which aims to hear the voices of the people of Essex about health and social care and translate these views into recommendations for authorities thus helping to shape and improve health and social care services in Essex.
In my very limited spare time I enjoy spending time with family and friends with good food and a little wine! When time allows I also enjoy various crafts.