New social network for special needs: Bringing Us Together

This post is about a new venture I've co-founded, so if you're not fond of gushing and excitement, look away now.

Bringing Us Together, a new social network for families, young people and practitioners involved in the world of special educational needs and/or disabilities launched last Thursday and I'm thrilled to have co-founded it alongside the wonderful disability campaigner, Katie Clarke.

What's more, we're delighted that Tania has offered Special Needs Jungle's support to the project and asked me to write a post about it, to help us shine a light on the work we've put into it.

BUT logo pngBringing Us Together is a place for old and young; parents, carers and family members; from people who are just starting on the journey to those who have been around for a long time.

Bringing Us Together welcomes all those who have an interest in disability and the wider issues to take part and to help build a place to share common interests and values.

  • BUT is more than a web site with a forum – it’s a virtual on line community
  • BUT is a community with an easy to navigate layout
  • BUT has fun and sociable places to visit
  • BUT offers up to date news, views, events, information and solutions
  • BUT gives opportunities to participate and influence
  • BUT offers International membership so we can sharing the learning from other countries
  • BUT is based on social justice, citizenship, family and communities
  • BUT will be looking at recurring themes within the network and raising awareness of these

Some people may say, "there are groups and similar on Facebook" but so many families don't access Facebook and a lot of practitioners may have an account on there but don't befriend parents.  So we have developed a community where parents, practitioners and young people can come together, with the sole aim of sharing advice, information and asking questions about SEND.

We have set the site up as a real community, and in order to make it easier to get around, there are 7 neighbourhoods:

  • Advice & Support
  • Education
  • Health
  • Social Care
  • Leisure
  • Personal Development
  • Chat

Within each neighbourhood, there are several buildings, for example in Advice & Support, a few of the buildings we have are:

  • Law offices
  • Advocacy offices
  • Transport office
  • Halfway House
  • Planning Office
  • Bank
  • Campaign Office
  • Childcare Centre
  • Events office
  • Newsagents (Special Needs Jungle has a strong presence here to keep everyone up to date with what is going on in our world)

Each neighbourhood also has its own resource building where useful links and information can be found quickly.

Once you sign up as a member (it's free and very easy), you can also add friends - if you wish - perhaps befriending people who live in your area or have children with a similar diagnosis.

You can see immediately if a member is a parent, a practitioner, a grandparent, sibling, etc so you know who you are chatting to.

One of the neighbourhoods is Chat and this has buildings for general chat and fun for our different member types, such as:

  • Caffeine Central (for parents)
  • Staff Canteen (for practitioners)
  • The Local (for grandparents)
  • Political House (for political debate)

We felt this was needed after pre-launch focus groups.

Bringing Us Together is family-driven and has a Visitors Book for people to feed back about what they would like to see on the site.  We have already made a number of additions and changes since the launch as we really do want this site to work for the members.

In addition to all of this, we have a regular newsletter sharing unanswered questions, a forum focus, events and any campaigns/consultations featured on our site.  You can also find us on Facebook and twitter too.

We will be hosting workshops, conferences and focus groups, along with more informal coffee mornings, in partnership with other independent parent-driven groups in the next year.

So, have a look at Bringing Us Together and let us know what you think.

 

Debs Aspland
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Debs Aspland

Exec Director at Bringing Us Together
Mum of 3, wife of 1, Exec Director of Bringing Us Together, Owner of Inspiring Circles, Writer of Chaos in Kent, Development - South at Community Circles
Debs Aspland
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