Who We Are…
Our Interim Team
Co-production partners for change!
Toni Wasag – Chair
I am a parent carer with four children at home ( six all together) with many different additional needs/diagnosis. I started my career in 2000 working as a detached youth worker in a deprived area of the Midlands and while studying for my youth work degree I became involved in a charity providing education for young people at risk of permanent exclusion/permanently excluded. I started as a mentor and was later promoted to senior Mentor as the team expanded. Since moving to Suffolk I have worked in children's homes as a support worker/senior support worker but then turned my attention to supporting parents of children/young people with ASD by running support groups across Suffolk and supporting parents with filling in forms/EHCP etc. I became involved in the new parent carer forum as I am passionate about making sure that the voice of parents and CYP is well and truly heard in Suffolk.
Sue Willgoss – Vice Chair
I’m a mum, in Lowestoft, Waveney, of four, now adult, children all who have or had SEND, three with a statement/EHCP. My children had a range of SEND, ASD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Selective Mutism, Speech and Language Difficulties, Hearing Impairment, Mental Health Difficulties, Anxiety and School Refusal. I’ve worked in SEND for almost 30 years both in school, as an Independent Support Coordinator as well as voluntarily.
Sadly I lost my son Danny when he took his own life in 2018. Danny had an EHCP at the time of his death. I now work in suicide prevention both professionally and voluntarily. I have a passion for self harm/suicide prevention in young people, especially those with SEND and autistic people.
I founded the charitable organisation #LiftLoudForDanny following the loss of my son providing support for those with mental health difficulties and their carers. I was a founder member of the original Suffolk Parent Carer Network until resigning in 2017. I am also passionate about improving outcomes for our children, young people and their families in Suffolk. Things have to change.
Nia Cooper – Business Support Coordinator
Hello, my name is Nia Cooper, I am a member of the Management Committee and I am the interim Business Support Coordinator for the forum.
I have a background in education, advice & guidance as well as project and support work in the local community. In 2018, I attained my Diploma in Special Educational Needs & Disabilities to further educate myself in ways to support those with additional needs and their parents. This led to me hosting a number of parent support groups within a school setting as well as being a parent advisor for the parents of newly diagnosed children. Most importantly, I have lived experience as a parent of three children, two of which have a range of additional needs and disabilities.
I am passionate about bringing a voice to Suffolk’s parent carers so that we can build a brighter future for our children and young people.
Hayley Bridges – Community Engagement
I'm Hayley Bridges, I'm a member of the Management Committee and the Interim Finance Coordinator for the Forum.
I'm a parent to 4 children, I'm also a Parent Carer. I have 10 years lived experience with my daughter, who has various additional needs and disabilities.
I have experience with EHCPs, Mediation, SEND Tribunals and securing suitable education placement for my daughter.
I have supported families through their EHCP journey, Diagnosis, Sign posting for support and navigating the SEND pathway.
I have attended various workshops over the years, Including Living with the ups and downs of Complex Needs, Child Anxiety Management and Understanding Autism. I'm a Youth Mental Health First Aider after completing a MHFA Youth Mental Health First Aid Course.
I became part of the Parent Carer Forum because I am passionate about CYP living their best life and being given an equal opportunity for a brighter future. I want every Parent Carer and CYP in Suffolk to have their voices heard.
Brian Devine – Safeguarding Officer
First and most important I am a family man, my world revolves around my wife and son. My son is autistic, non verbal and he is the most incredible person I know.
During the time he was being assessed and diagnosed to be on the autistic spectrum, I have met some wonderful new friends.
What experience do I have, Being a farther, my son who is teaching me something new every day, I have been a trustee for a local nursery, and I am a school governor , I am also on the local Parish Council.
I know my own experience but more importantly my sons, anything I can do to learn more to help my son but at the same time if I can use what I have learnt to help others on this journey.
My hopes are that we can give our children/young adults the best future possible, ok I know at this point in time with the support available for our children/young adults and the hole family is not what it should be. I want to help bring changes not just for today but give our children/young adults and even grandchildren a proper future but the only way that can happen is together, supporting each other. It's going to be a long journey with big challenges and yes maybe 1 or 2 brick walls to navigate round but as 1 we will change things, we can change the future for the better for our children/young adults to have the support in place they you need/deserves.
Samantha Manser – Data Protection Officer
My name is Samantha, I am a parent carer for children with Difficulties/Disabilities, I run a sensory play group for children/older children and their parents locally to my area.
I believe we can make can make a difference and I’m ready to see the parents voices heard
Faye Churchill – Management Committee Member
I am Faye, I am diagnosed with ADHD myself and I am also a parent carer of 3 children with a range of complex needs and mental health difficulties.
I have been involved in many different send related services over the last decade. Bringing a mixture of lived and learned experience to the management committee
Clare Morgan Hare – Management Committee Member
Clare Morgan Hare has been supporting young people with mental illness for over ten years. She is a mental health first
aid instructor and a co-director of PACT CIC, a support group in Suffolk for parents and carers of children and young
people with mental illness. Clare first began co-producing with SCC in 2016 and is currently on the Adverse Childhood
Experiences group and is helping NSFT recruit staff for a new crisis team. Clare is happy to represent parents but tries
wherever possible to support parents' own voices being heard. Clare's home life is spent running around after dogs
ponies and grandchildren. She is meant to be semi-retired.