PACT | Parents And Carers Together | Blog

PACT Blog:

A poem by Laura Belle (on Facebook), PACT parent 

"Why do they (schools) not realise that if they showed they cared and were kinder, maybe we could manage to stay there and finish our education with our friends? I was made to feel I was the only person with anxiety and I felt like I didn't belong.  Home was the only place I felt safe"... PACT young person (18+) failed by school in Suffolk & left with no qualifications & poor mental health


I love video games, they are a break.
I love my family, they are as sweet as a milkshake.
I love nature, it never makes mistakes.
I love most things, apart from the ones that keep me awake.
Shared with permission from a young person in Suffolk

They don't care

I wouldn't go to ***** school if you suffer with attachment issues, or mental health issues, etc. they don't care about how you feel physically they only care about their reputation, if you wear the wrong uniform, excluded, shouted at, when your upset they basically tell you to grow up and get over it, with attachment issues they don't know how to deal with them, if you getting too attached to teachers you get banned, and if you show too much that you're getting attached they ban you, they don't care how you feel in the situation, they just care about what they look like as a school, if you have adhd or autism, don't even try tell them they don't care they'll count you as a Troubled kid, even when you tell them you're trying your best they still don't care, even if you acting out because your struggling with your mental health they don't care all they'll do is exclude you, or put you in isolation, and just tell you to get over it really, they treat self-harm as nothing, they don't care if you're struggling they honestly just care about everyone being good and behaving so they'll look like a good school, but in words they don't care so there's no point telling them all they do is call home, and forget about it, same with suicidal thoughts and intentions, they couldn't care less.  They only worry about what they look like as a school, it's a s**t school, they only care about uniforms and behaviours they don't care about how you feel, they make everyone look the same.  Everyone has individuality compared to other people, they should be allowed to express that.  Some teachers are also really, really transphobic and homophobic.  Written by a young person in Suffolk

Non uniform days

Non uniform days are always portrayed as fun but are they really?
There are pros and cons for everything but for an autistic child there can often be more cons. Being
able to chose their own clothes can be great from a sensory processing point of view. School uniform
can be restrictive, hot, itchy where as many autistic children have a set of clothes which they are
comfortable in. Some children will wear these day and night. It can be a real struggle for parents to
get their hands on these clothes to wash them. Imagine how much better a child who struggles with
sensory issues could concentrate in school if the demand of wearing a uniform and the itchy, tight,
hot materials didn’t distract them!
But what about black and white thinking? Many of us have clothes we wear to work, clothes we
wear to the gym and clothes we wear at home. Would it not be weird to wear our work clothes in
the gym? Many autistic children see their uniform as school clothes and home clothes as home
clothes. When told it’s non uniform day you challenge their thinking in an uncomfortable way. No
wonder meltdowns and anxiety can occur. It’s also a change and changes can be hard, especially
with little notice.
Masking is real. Many autistic people mask. They try so hard to blend in because sadly we live in a
world where not everyone is inclusive. This can be very exhausting and hard to maintain. The
pressure to wear clothing that fits with others is real. It can end up a choice between sensory safe
clothing and not standing out.
Many people might think this point is exclusive to girls but I believe boys struggle with this too. The
fear of judgement. Are my clothes right? Is this fashionable? Do I have the right labels? I wonder
what percentage of children worry about this on non uniform day? I expect it’s very high. No one
wants to be a laughing stock.
Am I pro school uniform? Not when it makes children uncomfortable. But I’m also not pro non
uniform days because of the pressures it adds. Fancy dress days are equally as stressful. Maybe the
answer is that it’s marketed to students as an optional clothing day.
Claire Marie Smith.


You don't reply. And so I
Sit here

Gnawing pain. Discomfort.
It's deep. Solid.

Inside my stomach.

Fight off the fear
Irrational, anxious.
Regulate. Breathe.
Let it go.

Be mindful.

Be mindful.

A flash. A tag.
A car boot sale.

Life goes on.

But my heart breaks

After yesterday.

(Anonymous PACT parent)


There was a time when I’d look at the posters appearing around the school and village advertising the upcoming “Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning” and feel excited and happy. It was a longstanding tradition of our primary school that the year 6 students would organize the whole event, create posters, get their families baking amazing, show-stopping cakes and even wait on the tables of parents and grandparents and local parishioners, writing down their orders and ferrying hot drinks and cakes in their waiter/waitress outfits specially chosen for such a special occasion. Each new year 6 class tried to raise more money for Cancer Research than the previous class had. It really was one of the events of year 6, they had looked forward to it since joining Reception class and seeing the excitement of the older children and their pride in organizing such a lovely event.

My eldest child had been one of these who had been so excited to know that it would soon be their turn to pick up the mantle going into year 6, being the oldest in the school and having the responsibility which they were proud to shoulder. The much dreaded SATS were the following spring but they had an exciting calendar of fun events to look forward to which made it all seem achievable.

Unfortunately for my child, he’d begun to experience school-based anxiety at the start of year 6 and this had led to panic attacks and episodes of following me back out of school after drop-off to come and find me. It wasn’t something school said they were experienced in and had no knowledge of so, we were expected to get him there for registration at any cost. His school attendance was marked as unauthorized (as we had no CAMHS input at that time), even the local GP asked him why he was “behaving so badly and putting lots of stress on mum”. One day the attendance officer (followed by his meek assistant) descended on our home and lectured him on how he just needed to “do it, as he would feel really bad if his parents were prosecuted and ended up in court”. To this day I will never forgive him for putting that huge amount of further anxiety and stress on his 10 year old shoulders.

In the days leading up to the “Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning”, his attendance had been sporadic, he was able to go in sometimes, other times not (despite our best efforts – which now we understand were probably further damaging to his mental health but we did what we thought was right at that time). We did, however, manage to go into town and purchase a lovely, smart, navy suit and tie which was tried on and gave him so much confidence and self-esteem that this would be something he really could do well, something to enjoy alongside his peers and friends, something to make his teachers, and us, his parents, proud of him, sharing in his success and showing his younger siblings what they could aspire to achieve in year 6 too.

I’m sad to write (even now almost 10 years later) about what actually happened on that day back in September, the morning of the “Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning”.

Despite being so excited and looking forward to what the day would bring, his sleep was disturbed due to the worry about everything (we now know it as GAD Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and we didn’t make it into school until around 9.30am by which time everyone was busying around, setting out chairs and tables, boiling hot water urns and arranging cakes on plates, excited chatter between the year 6’s and their parents who had been roped in to help. We joined in with the activity and he went off to find his friends and get changed. A short time later I noticed he was following his new class teacher back through the hall towards me and some other parents at the cake table. She was a middle aged, rotund woman who always brought to mind Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter stories. She was what we would say, from the “old school” style of teaching. She obviously had no understanding of SEND or mental health issues let alone inclusive practice. I looked behind her to see my sons face was crestfallen and I immediately wondered what had happened so soon after the excitement of arriving.

In short, nothing had happened. She proceeded to tell me, not in a quiet or sensitive way so as not to let others overhear her, that due to my son’s “poor attendance” so far that term (it was probably around 85% at that point a few weeks into the new term) that it wasn’t fair on the other children who had successfully been in school that their reward should be shared with my child who “hadn’t made the same effort as they had”. My head was swimming, my mouth dried up. At that time I didn’t know the laws around equality or disability discrimination which I could have thrown back at her to insist he was included. I still feel the guilt of that lack of awareness to this day, which is probably why I am still triggered by the “Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning” posters whenever I see them start to appear. All I could do was mutter something along the lines of “well that’s a real shame as it’s something he’s looked forward to since he was 5” and escort my son and his bag of brand new waiter-like suit out of the hall and home again.

This was just one experience of many others we encountered by this small Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary school which, thanks to the senior leadership team showed in truly “outstanding” fashion the way to run a school which is the total opposite of inclusive, therapeutic, mentally healthy or trauma aware. I may write further of some of them as I have found the experience slightly cathartic and I wish to highlight the impact to young, vulnerable children who are placed in Loco Parentis by their parents and who are still being damaged by un-trained, unsupportive and uncaring people who have the power to inspire and uplift a child every bit as much as they can destroy them.

Please be the teacher who supports, understands and inspires. 
                                                        (PACT parent)

Dear Headteacher, 

Re: My child who has not been “Fine” in your school for a while now

I am writing today to ask you to think about several things which have impacted on the wellbeing of my child since he felt unable to cope in your school.  In the period since he has been too anxious to come to school, not once have we received a phone call, email or message to ask how he is doing. We have had correspondence asking for the “reason for absence” however this is not the same thing as asking about a child’s health. 

There was another child off ill during this period, we know this as the class sent a photo via Dojo with the message “come back to school soon, we are missing you”.  We have had no contact from the class teacher, except standard messages again to parents informing them of upcoming trips, class photo day, pictures taken of the year 6 leavers production, more photos of the residential trip showing the fun all of the other children were having. He wasn’t even invited to come and join in on sports day.

The sad thing is that I spoke to you about how nice it would be for him to feel part of the class, despite the probability that he wouldn’t make it in again during the last term.  I left that meeting feeling like you may have understood the isolation he was feeling and that he wasn’t wanting to be living his life at home with only family for company. This 10 year old child who had always been happy, engaging, sporty, sociable and bright. The boy who through the best part of 2 years of having unmet needs repeatedly not assessed or understood had eventually decided he could no longer face the anxiety day in day out with no help forthcoming. So eventually, as well as not being able to face school, he felt a failure and became withdrawn in other parts of his life in which he’d always found happiness and success, these too then stopped.

Just one kind word, a letter, an invitation to join in, just a helping, kind hand could have made a small difference. I’ll never know. I hope next time you may think about how one small act could create waves for change in a struggling child’s life.             {
Define Fine parent}

*** Trigger warning - this blog mentions self-harm and injury so please only read if appropriate ***

I want to talk about self harm

Seeing your child suffer is something that no one can truly even begin to understand unless you have lived it. 
Seeing your child physically harm themselves to cope with the inner pain can be shocking and disturbing to some, who've never experienced living with a child who self harms. 
Initially it can start with scratching until they bleed, or continually picking at a scab until it scars. Biting their lips til they bleed, fingernails bitten down so low they look painfully sore. The escalation from this stage to the next can be so quick.
You think you've removed everything that can harm them, but they are far more clever than you. From sharp edged plastic, to purposefully breaking a cup or glass, sneaking away with a sliver.. sharp edged cardboard, tools from the clay you used to lovingly play with.. the list is endless.
The fear it instils rocks you to your very core, each night you lay awake wondering whether to check in with them again or leave them in peace as they've asked. You see them suffering and you want so badly to take away that pain, you want them to feel whole again. 
They appear with new cuts, deeper this time, inside you freeze with fear but externally you deal with the wounds pragmatically and with as little fuss as you can muster, you learn to treat them like any other wound. You lock away medications, razors and knives.. you constantly scan the area for things that may harm them. Each bang in the night, each walk across the hallway, you're filled with fear, not knowing what's coming next. 
You seek comfort from others who live the same nightmare and suddenly you don't feel quite so alone, you share tips and stories on what helps and what doesn't. But mostly it feels like the worst nightmare you have ever lived, surreal at times even, when you realise that you are THAT family... the one with the child that self harms. 

Anonymous PACT parent

 Review of 'The Special Parents Handbook' by Yvonne Newbold

I really recommend this book. Yvonne has much lived experience as a Sen parent and shares her honest experience with her top tips and strategies in each chapter. She gets it!
I have never come across a professional that could offer any help in supporting a child who has violent and controlling behaviour. They either parent blamed or discharged without support. I felt at a loss. Yvonne has shown me what’s behind the behaviour, how to cope with it, reduce it and support my child through it. She makes a very clear and true point that this is not your fault.
Yvonne's advice has had a big, positive impact on our family. If you don’t believe me then just ask the next door neighbour! 
Review by Claire
Link to book here



Mumma/Dadda knows best

The one thing I've learnt through endless years of fighting the broken system, is the one place where you want to be believed, trusted and respected for the knowledge you have about the little beings you have brought into the world is the one place you seem to have to prove that over and over again... and even then, sometimes you won't win!

When our eldest started school (now nearly 20 years old) we informed them that dyslexia was high in the family, we arranged meetings to discuss it in ernest. We didn't want him to suffer the same fate as my husband and be branded a 'naughty child'. They sat, smiled and nodded at the right time, seemingly caring about your worries and woes for the future of your child. We sat, naively confident that they would take our views on board and do their bit to ensure he didn't slip through the net. 

Sadly, as each parents evening came round, we were faced with the same comments 'he's below average' 'he seems distracted in class' 'his attention span is low'. Each time we would reiterate our concerns and facts within the family. Each time we were ignored... finally in his final year of middle school, they ran a very basic diagnostic test which revealed slow processing and dyslexia. 

We decided to take him to be tested for Irlen Syndrome as my nephew has recently been diagnosed. Low and behold, he did have the syndrome, £125 for irlen lenses, but well worth the money. 

By the time we transitioned to high school, our son was branded the naughty kid with behavioral issues. He never misbehaved at home like he did at school. He was always polite, happy and respectful until you put him in the classroom setting.

Again, we had discussions with high school's Senco well before he started, again we received the same sympathetic nods and assurances. We were told high school would be a fresh start and the slate would be wiped clean. 

Fast forward to his first day of high school and his from tutor proceeded to put him at the back of the class, 2 seats away from everyone else! So much for the fresh start! 

This then paved the way for disaster after disaster.. why should our son show any respect when the very people teaching him showed him none! He was blamed for things he didn't do and on one occasion, backed into a corner of the canteen by 3 staff members. 

Isolation after isolation, which simply didn't work! He was like a coiled spring. Each time they let him out he would kick off even more than before. Each time I explained our concerns and the perfectly well behaved son we had at home, the child they regularly called me about was a complete stranger to me! 

Eventually our son sadly turned to drugs, he felt ostracized by the broken system and sought comfort in others who had also been failed. We tried so very hard to seek help, we engaged with the school every single day, attending meetings, offering advice, you name it we did it. 

Fast forward to Mock Exams.. after sitting them I asked my son if he had had any extra time or support. His response was no... so I emailed the senco and asked what the hell was going on. He had supposedly been put on the SEN register in year 9, so why no extra time?! She came back and said he had never been put on the register and no additional needs were listed on any of his records!! I was then told that they didn't think they could sort the assessments in time for his GCSE's which were just months away! I pushed and pushed and pushed and finally they agreed to get the assessments done, even then the senco said they doubt they would find anything, his issues were behavioral not educational. I simply did not believe that for one minute. Our sons behaviour was directly linked to his learning needs and I didn't doubt that.

When the assessments came back, I had a very sheepish phone call from the senco who apologised profusely for not believing me. Not only was our son well below average for slow processing, he also scored very high for dyslexia as well as Irlens. 

He was entitled to 25 minutes extra time as well as the use of a laptop for some of his subjects.  They also placed him on study leave, basically their way of appearing to be helping, but actually saving themselves the headache of having a drug addict in the school. 

Our son is now well out of the drug scene, but he freely admits it was the broken school system that caused him to seek affirmation elsewhere, albeit a very negative and dark place to turn. 

But I wish more than anything the school had trusted me. I wish they had taken our experience, knowledge and parental skills on board rather than trying to prove they knew our son better. 

We have a happy ending with our son, completely drug free, happy to share his experience with others to try and discourage this route and most importantly, we got our loving, carefree son back. He was never built for the education system, he was never going to fit in. If I had my time over, I would have unschooled him in an instant.. but hindsight is a wonderful thing. 

Always trust your gut ladies and gents! You know your children better than anyone. And don't let any professional tell you any different. 

Tracy Goymer, PACT trustee

Milk and Biscuits 

You wouldn't think something as simple as milk and biscuits could make you cry, but yesteday they did just that.

As I stood in my kitchen yesteday, my son rang and said he was popping home for a cuppa in his lunch break from work. I'd spent the morning baking Christmas biscuits and as he strolled into the kitchen, a memory from my own childhood struck me. I looked at my children, 19 year old son and 12 year old daughter and said 'do you know something? When I was in infant school we used to be given 2 biscuits and a carton of milk, I still remember those biscuits being wrapped in tin foil, then after we ate them and drank our milk, we all laid on the floor for a nap!' They both looked at me with envy 'wow mum! That sounds really lovely'. We chatted for a while longer, then that evening I told my husband about the conversation.. before I knew it I had tears steaming down my face. My husband looked at me in bafflement and with a cheeky smile on his face 'why are you crying?' He asked, I shook my head, unable to speak through the tears. 

I was crying because my school life was so simplistic and fun, I was crying because our two have never felt the joy I felt at school, I was crying because I am 43 and I still remember the milk and biscuits like it was yesteday. I remember my inspirational teacher who I absolutely loved to bits and strived to please her every day. I remember feeling safe, cared for and respected. I was crying because the system is so broken and the nurturing and safe environment I studied in no longer seems to exist. I was crying because my children never ever fitted in. 

Tracy Goymer, PACT trustee

The guilt of an enabling parent

This is a tough blog to write, mostly because this is the untold truth for some of us SEN parents, this is the part none of us want to admit nor face. We know people are judging our actions, we know that maybe we could have been sterner, harder, stricter, less of a walk over. But the sad fact is that when you are dealing with a child who is quite frankly inconsolable, angry, tearful or aggressive, it's so much harder than people could ever imagine.

I know I've enabled behaviour, I hate that I have, I know I could have dealt with things differently and more effectively but I cannot change the past. I can only focus on the future. 

Parenthood is full of potholes to be honest, someone can give you advice which works perfectly well for their own child but for yours would cause further damage and heartache. If you're anything like me, you spend your life walking on egg shells, wondering if you dealt with that particular situation in a positive way or a way in which will damage your child for all eternity! 

Many of us, including myself can distinctly remember times like that from our own childhoods and we are dead set on making sure our children don't face the same ghosts from their past when they enter adulthood. 

We're doing our best to bring them up to be well rounded, confident and self assured individuals. But are we enabling them too much? Do we now give more choices that they shouldn't have? Are we less effective at consequences and punishments because we ourselves felt we were punished and disciplined too much?

When your child says they have that 'tummy ache' and we ourselves then feel that knot in our own stomachs knowing the battles we are about to face to get them to school/ out the house/ socialise with family and friends its very difficult not to give in because sometimes we know we have to pick our battles very carefully, some are not worth it in our eyes. 

But where do you stop? Do you then not push them to engage at all? Do you allow them to spend all day isolated in their room because it's easier than the battle to get them up and out? 

I wish I hadn't enabled as much as I have, I wish I were a stronger person who wasn't driven by empathy and striven to ensure every day in my child's life is filled with happiness! That simply isn't realistic for adult life is it?.. they do need to build some resilience to the world, which is what I'm trying to achieve now.

It's not easy undoing the wrongs I have done though and it will take time for our daughter to adjust to the more firm attitude that I feel I need to take. It will take time for me to ensure she knows that we are doing it because we adore her and want her to have the best in life and that cannot even begin to happen whilst she is couped up in her bedroom allowing her anxiety to rule her life and capabilities. 

Tracy Goymer, PACT trustee

Credit where credits due!

I know most of us in our wonder PACT family have their frustrations with school life, the education system as a whole and the delightful Mr Gove who seems to know nothing about modern age teaching, youngsters or life!

But to be honest, in this current situation I actually feel quite sympathetic to our teaching staff and Heads. 

I can't obviously speak for all schools, but our daughters High school have been absolutely fantastic. Having received a weekly phone call, regular updates and information and I thought it was high time the Head Teacher got some recognition for his work. 

I sent in an email saying the following

"I just wanted to let you know how truly grateful I am for your continued support and communication during this difficult time.

Although at times, as a parent I have felt overwhelmed by the amount of work appearing on SMHW, I have felt nothing but supported and reassured that you and your staff have our children's best interests at heart.

We have received a weekly phone call, which has been hugely beneficial for me to discuss my concerns, highs and lows of the week. Each time I have felt like I am failing Mrs H has promptly given me a good pep talk and helped me realise I am doing the best I can in a very tricky situation, as are all of you!

Each email Newsletter or update I receive from you is full of understanding and empathy, along with reassurance that the work set does not need completing.

Having had to continue to work full time from home since March, it has been increasingly difficult to ensure everyone has enough of my time, especially V, who would normally have extra support in her lessons, or would be in the Pod at some point during the day. However she has continued to read and write every day and we have submitted spin offs of some of the work set, which has all be welcomed by her teachers. She has also discovered a great love of baking and I have definitely put on weight due to home made sausage rolls and cakes!

You may remember our conversation in the Reception a few months back, you were trying to encourage a Y7 to go into class and I suggested she and V walk up to the pod together "Team Work, Makes the Dream Work" was my quote that morning and they happily went through the doors together. I do feel Stowupland's team working is helping the dream work."

On Friday, I received a call from the Head to personally thank me for my thoughtful email, which 'brought a tear to his eye' and as he said that, it actually brought a tear to my own.

This particular Head teacher only took over the role late last year!

He showed me that some teaching staff are just like us, they are human, they do have a heart, feelings and emotions. Most of them are just as frustrated with the educational system as we are, but they're not listened to either. 

Some of them really do put their heart and soul into their careers.. some as we know should never have entered into the profession!

So, credit where credit is due!

Tracy Goymer - PACT parent

The yo-yo emotions of parenthood

Am I the only one that yo yo's from day to day, maybe even week to week about if they're doing the right thing? 

At the beginning of this covid crisis, I was all for keeping up with the work set by school for our daughter. If anything I was panicking about not meeting their targets. I was always studious at school myself and I felt like my daughter should embrace it just like I did. Everytime I saw another piece of work set I tried (unsuccessfully i may add!) to get her to complete it, I wasn't fussed about the standard, just that we'd ticked another box off the list.

About 3 weeks into lockdown I realised this wasn't working for either of us, I was working full time from home and the sheer volume of work from both my job and school was unachievable. So I morphed into the 'sod it' rebellious stage I like to call it. Our daughters mental health isn't great and that has to come first. Sod the work, I am not a teacher, I'm working and juggling too many balls and I'm not catching any! This stage lasted for many weeks, we did do some work but I refused to look at the homework app and began to feel better, ignorance is bliss right?.. well about a week ago I began to feel guilty, panicky and overwhelmed again as I switched on the app notifications and watched a flurry of notifications come through, I began fretting that I was failing her, what if every other student is completing this and I send her back blind to any of it? What if I have single handedly ruined her future by not being more disciplined with her? What if she blames me in future years for not being more assertive with her?.. i laid awake at night balancing out all the things I should be doing with the amount of physical time I have in a day to do it and wondering how others are managing it.

I decided to try again to do more work with her, changing the game up a little on some of the homework and making spin offs of what they'd sent. She completed an awesome PowerPoint on the film Carrie and we submitted it to her english teacher, she loved it! I began emailing her teachers to say that although she wasn't necessarily doing the work set, she was reading every day and was writing a book. We have received nothing but positivity regarding our honesty and work submitted.

So now I'm back to feeling a little calmer about it, I believe she is learning, not necessarily in the academic department, but she is learning about herself, what she enjoys and doesn't enjoy. She has sung her heart out and she has a beautiful voice. I still doubt she will ever have the confidence to sing in front of anyone but us, but she is still young and things change.

We have watched films like Bohemian Rhapdsody, which she loved and now loves Queen even more! She has learnt about bands and music, she has a love for all genres and has an impressive playlist of 60's 70's and 80's.

She is still in therapy and although this situation is far from ideal, it has given her time to deal with her anxieties and discover the root causes, so by the time she does return to school, she will be in a far healthier place mentally.

Whilst I fight my demons as a mum doing her best and yo-yo between what I think is best from one week to another, I have to believe that we are, on the whole doing the right thing in an unprecedented situation.

It has been a week by week rollercoaster of balancing my work priorities with my parenting priorities, dealing with the constant guilt that I'm failing someone and hoping that in years to come the decisions I made, with my best intentions at heart do not come back to bite me on the butt!

By Tracy Goymer (PACT parent) 

Today has been a painting the hallway kinda day!

Today has been a painting the hallway kinda day! Weird, but when I was scrubbing down our son's bedroom door, it brought back so many memories.. the times its been slammed shut, the times it had fell victim to a little punch (or a big one!).. the times it's been quietly closed so I can talk to him in private and hold him while life was being cruel and he wasn't being kind to himself.. the times when he had his friends over and you heard the sweet sound of laughter and hushed giggles at 2am and the times when we got good news and he'd whoop with the joys of his successes. Its funny how something as simple as a door can trigger the old memory. 

If the walls of our houses had ears, I am sure we would be enlightened by many other conversations that have taken place over the years, faded over time but brought back to life just through one simple act.

The parenthood years are more challenging than I could ever have prepared for. Things we have experienced I would never have imagined when he was a small child, happy, optimistic and full of cheek and mischief!

But through all those hard times, heartbreak and tears, before me now stands a wonderful example of a human being. Working two jobs in a bid to build up his own business, falling into bed exhausted most days, including this wonderfully sunny bank holiday most of us are enjoying! 

The nights laid awake worrying about his future, worrying if he would even be here with us are now a distance.. but still painful memory.

That door has absorbed alot over the years, as have we as a family. But like that old door, we're all still stood strong, together. 

Thankfully we don't need a lick of paint to patch us up, time has been a great healer of the past.. but some scars will always remain."

By Tracy Goymer (PACT parent) 

Oops I've forgotten about myself again!

This weekend I decided it was time to crawl out of the comfort of my trusted leggings and elsaticated skirts and don my skinny Jeans once again. As I slid them over my thighs and breathed in to do them up, I'm sure I heard them laugh hysterically at my optimism that they may fit!

At this point I took a long hard look at myself and started to think just how much I've neglected myself over the past few weeks. Usually quite an active individual, walking in my lunch hours most days and often the one to offer teas and coffees in a bid to get up from my desk.. the last few weeks I've literally been on autopilot, get up, dressed, go downstairs and fire up the laptop whilst making a cuppa, sit, work, muster up the energy to wake up my 'student', sit, work, attempt again to wake my student!

It's no lie that I have always struggled to put myself first, genuinely feeling heart warmed to help and put others first, but at this rate by the time I need to return to work they'll need a hoist and a teleporter to get me out the door!

So this week I am starting a new routine and i am going to attempt to remember to take care of myself. No one will fall off the edge of the planet if I take half an hour out to exercise!

By Tracy Goymer (PACT parent) 

Easing lockdown and going back to normal makes me anxious

So while others seem keen to get back to normality, I am really not. 

I've enjoyed being home with my family, although of course there have been really rocky days, frustrating days, tears and tantrums and that just from me let alone the kids and husband!

But the longer this goes on, the more I dread normality. Rushing around doing packups, homework, going to work and the general humdrum of every day life. Everytime I think about it, I get a little pang in my gut, everytime the Prime Minister does an update I pray that lockdown will continue, so I can hold onto this precious time a little longer, keeping everything I hold dear very close to me and making sure they're safe.

I dread the return of schooling and the influences our daughter will be exposed to, because right now she is starting to grow and flourish.. will that continue? Or will she recoil back into her shell and become that quiet, timid, frustrated bundle of anger once again?

I've enjoyed working in my little kitchen on the laptop, with only the noise of my own family to bother me. No office politics, no small talk to make, just general family chatter to keep me going.

I hope when this does go back to 'normal' it will be a different normal, a more appreciative normal and the demands of every day life won't be so heavy as before.

Lockdown has not been without it challenges, but I will really miss it when it's over.

For us it has definitely made us stronger and work better as a family unit.

Tracy Goymer (PACT parent) 

The Mysterious Disappearance of Helping hands Around the House

So when lock down began, I considered lots of things like the freedom to meet friends and family for coffee, lack of take away's.. I even considered the stresses of working from home and not having everything easily to hand like I would in the office and hurriedly collected items I would need to make my life easier. However I failed to prepare for the disappearance of helping hands around the house!

I have no idea where they are or when they will return, but with 3 extra bodies in the house, I was quite shocked to discover one morning shortly after lock down that they had mysteriously disappeared from all 3 family members! Oddly, mine remain fully intact.. which I find extremely strange!

These two hands now seem responsible for washing, home ed, working from home, hoovering and all other tasks directly related to running the house. We do have the occasional reappearance of the hands from some members, for example shopping! But that only seems to be because I am too busy working and if they didn't reappear we would simply starve.. so whoever took the hands obviously doesn't want to be responsible for our deaths by starvation.

Today, I did actually have a cup of tea made for me! That's a rarity, but then I suppose with no hands its quite tough to make tea safely ;-)

I am sure I'm not the only one that has suffered the same fate, it is certainly a mysterious illness and I hope it ends as quickly as it began.

Helping hands were always a bit of a touch and go in this household as I am looked at to be the keeper of everything, including logic and sanity.. but whilst working from home it would be super awesome to have some more hands on deck on a regular basis rather than the zero hour contracts they have signed (clearly before the disappearance!) without me knowing ;-)

By Tracey Goymer (PACT parent)

I am not a teacher, I'm a mum!

Well, its Monday 20th April, the 'first day back to school'... only school is the kitchen table and the student now doesn't rock up until at least mid afternoon due to morphing into a nocturnal animal over the past few weeks!

Initially, when school's closed I had these wonderful ideologies in my head about how amazing it will be to home educate. I would have a timetable, we would be up and dressed by 9am each day, working by 10am, we would lovingly tick off the work excitedly, we would smile and laugh...

The reality is that most days I am the only one up before midday, this is only due to the fact I am officially still working. My work station is also the kitchen table, so here we present problem A! I make coffee, fire up the laptop and wait for the 10 million emails to descend upon my inbox. 

I promise myself I will wake our daughter at 10am... then 11am.. finally by 12pm I've given up hope. 

I promise I'll stop for lunch, but then more emails arrive. In the back of my head I have this shouty voice telling me I'm failing yet again and it's only Monday. 

Eventually she will rise and we then begin the destraction technique, 'my eyes feel fuzzy' 'I have a headache' 'my arm feels like its going go fall off'... ok the last one is an exaggeration, but you get the gist! 

We usually manage a whole hour of work if we're lucky, it actually consists of about 20 mins of work, the other 40 are spent with her moaning about the work set. I have lost count how many times we have decided which subject we're going to study and then swiftly changed it as it's too hard. As for maths..well we haven't touched it since school shut, and this makes me feel quite bad, but everytime we hop on Hegarty Maths website we can't log in, oh well! 

One thing this has taught me? I am not a teacher, I'm a mum!
Tracy Goymer (PACT parent)

Are you feeling stressed trying to juggle home schooling/home working/family life with Covid-19?

I’m guessing the short answer is “Yes”. And probably no amount of scented baths and keeping yourself hydrated is going to be the complete answer. We are living in unprecedented times. The human population has suffered pandemics before. Our parents or grandparents lived through the world wars, and a lot of warlike words are being used in connection with this current struggle for life. But this time it is not a communal experience like the one they went through then. We are not meeting our friends at the school gate and swapping yeast sachets for toilet rolls, or bringing a dish each to the community centre on Saturdays for a sing song. I have no confidence in being able to source the food our family needs next week. We understand that proximity increases our risks so we must stay at home, alone and yet not alone. Isolation brings financial worries, and for many women in particular, isolation from support networks whilst at the same time increased responsibilities for and contact with people needing our support. I usually work from home, but I have the house to myself. Now I’m squeezing my work life around family life. Even if I didn’t have to work, I am not needed all the time so I could be tempted into a hobby like knitting. It has to be something I can pick up and drop at a moment’s notice. I think in a way I simultaneously have too much isolation (from the outside world) and too little (at home). The internet is part of the solution (and thank you PACT for our Friday catch ups), but I must admit I’m finding coaching my 70 and 80 year old parents and in laws on Skype or Messenger is stressful and I have a little cry after the sessions. Thank you for free access to fabulous shows that theatres are releasing. Thank you to yoga teachers and choir leaders and conductors and crochet teachers for your sessions. I’m paying what I can, but we are all afraid of what money and food we might have next week.

As a family in the 1970s, we enjoyed fun evenings during power cuts. I see now it must have been quite stressful for my parents dealing with them and uncollected rubbish. But I didn’t know any of that, and looked forward to those family evenings. In the famous and everlasting words, “This too shall pass”. I’m going to try to pass on memories that will make my children smile without crucifying myself, and that is the very limit of my ambition.

Anonymous PACT parent

Do you have a child who is struggling to attend school?

Many children are experiencing attendance difficulties whether due to anxiety or other mental health issues , unmet SEND, physical illness, bullying or academic pressure.

It can sometimes be very hard for parents to navigate through the maze of SEND, EHCP’s, reasonable adjustments, parental responsibility for attendance etc...

We are here to support you and to help you to access appropriate information and guidance from relevant organisations and local services we also work closely with the national organisation Define Fine to offer an holistic approach which will support you to support your child.

• Confidential and child centered advice
• Signposting
• Outreach support
• Ideas for “reasonable adjustments” in school
• Medical evidence guidance
• Shared resources
• Solution focused

Please contact us via any of the following: or

Suffolk County Council advise you can also contact Suffolk Family Focus School Attendance Service at: where they work in partnership with parents and schools to achieve the best outcomes for the child.

What is Youth Mental Health Aware?

Youth Mental Health Awareness is an introductory course designed to raise awareness of young people’s mental health and the issues that can affect this age group. The training can be attended by anyone from 16 upwards and is relevant for people who teach, work, live with and care for 8 to 18 year olds, including young people themselves.

Youth Awareness training is not intended to replace the two day Youth MHFA training course but is a good introduction to those interested in young people’s mental health.

Each and every Youth MHFA awareness course is delivered by a quality assured instructor, who has attended the seven day instructor training programme accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health to deliver our two day Youth MHFA course.

What will I learn on a Youth MHFA Awareness course?

Our Youth MHFA instructors deliver training that enables you to:
• Gain a wider understanding of some issues surrounding young people’s mental health
• Interact more effectively with young people who are experiencing mental health issues
• Get an insight into the full two day Youth MHFA course and the benefits of becoming a Youth Mental Health First Aider

Throughout the course our instructors providing a safe learning environment where participants are supported throughout the whole course. At the end of the day, everyone will receive a copy of the Youth Mental Health Awareness manual which is an excellent reference and support resource.

How will attending a Youth MHFA Awareness course help?

The course will:
• Explore the issues around young people’s mental health and how to relate to them
• Help you to support young people who may be experiencing mental health issues

Research and evaluation also shows that taking part in an MHFA course:
• Raises awareness and mental health literacy
• Reduces stigma around mental ill health
• Boosts knowledge and confidence in dealing with mental health issues
• Promotes early intervention which enables recovery

For more information about Youth  MHFA training and consultancy please visit or to book onto a course contact: Bec Jasper 07801 330827

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Contact Supportline: 07856 038799

Meetings in Suffolk

parent support Suffolk

We are currently meeting up on the first Monday of every month in Stowmarket, and the third Monday in Bury St Edmunds. We are a very informal group and tea and coffee is always provided - sometimes even biscuits and cake! Come along.

Support for parents/carers

carer support Suffolk

PACT offer free, confidential support, including information and advice to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person. We offer a safe environment to support with no judgement.

Self Help Resources

Self help for parents and carers

We can offer a wide range of self help resources to support you and your child. These include access to books, links to online content, connections with other organisations and the chance to come to one of our meetings to chat and share ideas.