Family Member and Former Chair of Directors
Jan Sunman is one of the original members of Making Families Count and, until recently, was the Chair of Directors. She frequently presents at our webinars. Jan started her professional career as a social worker specialising in supporting children with mental health needs and their families. Since then, she has volunteered, campaigned and worked in the field of learning disability for 38 years.
Jan is currently working with Stephen Habgood and Susan Willgoss, who is the Lived Experience Influencer in the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, on a joint project with Autism Oxford and Making Families Count on Autism Suicide Prevention with Surrey County Council.
Previously, she campaigned against cuts to short break services for disabled children and their families and spearheaded the foundation of the Chiltern Centre as a charity providing respite care to serve disabled children in South Oxfordshire. The Chiltern Centre continues to support many local families.
Jan also worked for Royal Mencap Society as a regional development officer and won a Mencap National Partnership Working Award in that role. Later, she helped develop Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OxFSN), a local charity for families supporting relatives with learning disabilities. In addition, she was a member of the Transforming Care Programme Board in Oxfordshire.
She has taken part in training for reviewers for the Learning Disability Mortality Review process.
In the past, Jan has served as a trustee for two national charities, The Royal Mencap Society and NOFAS, a charity dedicated to supporting people affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Jan’s personal experience of the loss of her eldest daughter, Katy, who was disabled and who died prematurely at the age of 25 from sepsis, has made her very aware of the issues families face when a loved one dies in complex and traumatic circumstances. She has worked with a number of families of disabled relatives facing traumatic loss.
She has two other children, her daughter Laura is a children’s nurse and her son, Matthew – a steam train addict – has severe learning disabilities and autism.