Contact a Family North East Bulletin

10th September 2015
Activities & Events
1) Free Anti-Bullying Workshop for Parent/Carers
The Anti-Bullying Alliance and Contact a Family are working with Middlesbrough Council from April 2015 - March 2016 to become Anti-Bullying SEN and Disability Champions. This programme is funded by the Department for Education. As part of this, we are holding  a workshop for parent/carers taking place on Tuesday 22 September 2015 at the Acklam Green Centre, Stainsby Road, Whinney Banks, Middlesbrough TS5 4JS. This will run from 10.00am-2.00pm.
This free workshop is for parents/carers of disabled children and those with special educational needs (SEN) who are concerned about bullying at school and who want to learn more about bullying, the school's responsibilities and what parents can do to support their child. (open now to parent/carers from all areas of the North East)
Places must be booked in advance through Eventbrite here
If you need any further information about the workshops, please contact Debbie Gordon on 020 7608 8774 or email
2) Legal Surgery – September
If you have a disability related legal issue – then you might like to know that the next legal surgery being run by Disability North & Contact a Family, in conjunction with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors is taking place on Thursday 17 September 2015 at the Dene Centre, Newcastle.  Appointments can be made for times between 10.00am-1.00pm and will be available in 30 minute sessions.
The legal surgeries will be attended by a legal adviser who will discuss your query with you, and advise you on what you should do next. All advice given at the legal advice surgeries is free of charge. If you wish to take any legal action following the initial advice at the legal surgery this may involve a cost.  The legal adviser will discuss the costs involved in taking your case forward and the funding options available. The legal advice surgeries will provide advice on any disability-related issues including those listed below. If the legal adviser is unable to provide advice on any issue you will be signposted as appropriate.
Subjects covered include Education (including SEN Reforms e.g. Education, Health & Care Plans); Transport (including school transport); Health and social care needs (including access to, or failure to provide statutory care services); Access to medical treatment
Issues relating to medical treatment received; Issues surrounding mental capacity/vulnerability of family members (particularly if there is a dispute); Housing adaptations to meet health and social care needs; Lasting powers of attorney; Court of Protection Best Interest decisions and deprivation of liberty; Employment; Compensation for disabling injuries; Disability-related service provision
If you are interested and would like to book an appointment, then please call Contact a Family on 0191 213 6300. Please note, as there are limited sessions on offer, they will be available on a first come, first served basis but we will try and offer you the next available date if they are fully booked.
3) Childcare Focus Group
Help inform government childcare policy. Contact a Family have been asked by the Department for Education (DfE) to help them run some focus groups to gather further insights from parents regarding the free childcare offer for 2,3 and 4 year olds.  Do you think you would be interested in taking part?
This focus group is taking place on Wednesday 30 September 2015 from 10.00am-12.00pm (including lunch). You will be reimbursed for your travel and time. The venue will be in Newcastle – exact venue to be confirmed very soon.
We need families with young disabled children (aged 5 and under) to inform this government policy as we know from the Parliamentary Inquiry into childcare for disabled children (July 2014) that 41% of respondents to the Inquiry said their child could not access the current full 15 hours free entitlement. With the plans to extend the free offer to 30 hours for working families it’s essential that the DfE understand more about why some families can or can’t access the free entitlement. This is a great opportunity for parents to inform and shape future policy.
If you would be willing to take part in our focus group please contact Siobhan Margolis by email at or by phone on 020 760 88714.
4) Free Care Act Seminar in Middlesbrough
Contact a Family in conjunction with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors is running another free Care Act Seminar which will take place on Tuesday 13 October 2015 at The Gateway, Middlehaven, Middlesbrough from 10.00am-1.00pm – Registration from 9:30am (refreshments included) 
This seminar is open to parent carers of children aged 0-25 with additional needs but as the majority of the Act relates to Adult Services, this seminar may be more useful to families of disabled young people aged 13-25 years
Facilitated by Irwin Mitchell, this seminar will look at:
•           What the Care Act means for parent carers of disabled children
•           How it links with the Children & Families Act and
•           What you need to know when moving into adult services
Places are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Call 0191 213 6300 or email
to book your place. Help with childcare or travel costs is available upon request
5) LD:NorthEast Fun Day
LD:NorthEast provide a wide range of socially inclusive support for families, adults and older people affected by learning disabilities. Join them on Saturday 12 September 2015 from 1.00–4.00pm at LD: NorthEast 205 Park Road, Wallsend, NE28 7NL for a fun day filled with live music, crafts stalls, funfair games such as hook a duck, ring the bull, raffles with top prizes and much much more.
Tickets cost £2.50 which includes a hotdog
For tickets or more information call them on 0191 262 2261
6) Whizz-Kidz Work Skills Day
Wherever you are on your career path, Whizz-Kidz are here to help you on the journey!  If you are a young wheelchair user, aged 14-25, join Whizz-Kidz and Tesco at their free Work Skills Day on Saturday 12 September 2015 Times TBC, at Tesco Extra, Parkway Centre, Coulby Newham Middlesbrough Middlesbrough TS8 0TJ
The Work Skills Day will include:
  • An insight into the world of work at Tesco
  • Interview preparation and mock exercises
  • Workshops and group activities
  • Opportunities to learn more about your strengths and career planning
To book places, contact Whizz-Kidz Work Placement Coordinator (North), Chris Greenhalgh on 07795325928 or email who will help you sort arrangements for the day.
7) Beach Wheelchair Try-Out Session
This will be of interest to families who have children and young people who are wheelchair users.  On Saturday 12 September 2015 from 1.00-3.00pm at Blyth South Beach, Northumberland there will be a Nomad beach wheelchair available to try out.
It is hoped that a scheme can be set up where these wheelchairs would be available for people to use at Blyth South Beach so please go along, try it out and give your input.
For any more information, you can visit the Facebook group page, email or visit their website 
8)  Project Choice Information Events
The Project Choice team are holding several open information events to share information about a work/education-based programme for young people with learning disabilities/difficulties or Autism.  Please note the sessions commence with a presentation that will start promptly.
Sessions are taking place as follows:
Monday 14 September 2015 from 12:00–1:30pm and Wednesday 16 September 2015 from 6:00–7:30pm at The MediCinema, Level 2 New Victoria Wing, Royal Victoria Infirmary, NE1 4LP and on Saturday 19 September 2015 from 10:30am–12:00pm at the Institute of Transplantation, Lecture Theatre, Level 4, Freeman Hospital, NE7 7DN
Attendance is aimed at young people aged between 16-24 years and their parents/guardians/school staff.  You will have the opportunity to meet some of the young people who have been part of Project Choice and hear what they have to say, find out where they have been working and ask questions.
There is no requirement to book a place, just come along and find out more about what Project Choice can offer.
If you are unable to attend, but are interested in applying and would like some additional information, please contact Lorna Harasymiuk on 07766 384122 or email
Please note there are limited places on this project, and there is a recruitment process. Recruitment days will be held in the Autumn.
9) Cerebra North East Parent Forum
Shona Chambers, Cerebra’s Regional Officer would like to invite you to a Parent/Carer Forum taking place on Thursday 17 September 2015 from 10.00am–12noon at Gateshead Old Town Hall at Sage Gateshead, West Street, Gateshead NE8 1HE. Coffee/Tea will be available.
The forum will focus on Music Therapy at Sage Gateshead delivered by Louisa Kelly, a qualified Music Therapist working with adults and children with a range of difficulties.
Places must be booked in advance through the Cerebra website For any further information, please call Shona on 01914 775 954 or  07827 848 611 or email
10) County Durham Making Changes Together SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Workshops for Parents/Carers of children and young people with SEND
The days include a variety of workshops to help you understand your child’s SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and will take place on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 September 2015 from 10.00am–2.00pm each day at Durham Town Hall, Market Place, Durham DH1 3NJ
Workshops include: Direct Payments, CAMHS – Behaviour that Challenges, Durham County Carers Support - parent carer service, The Local Offer, SEND Support in Schools, Automatic Enrolment Pension Workshop, A Sensory Perspective and the effects on behaviour, Special iApps – Apps for Children with Special Educational Needs, Welfare Rights, The Care Act and Children & Families Act, Innovations Programme.
All places must be booked in advance so for more information or to book your place please call Ann Connor on 0191 5873541 or email
11) Newcastle Speech Language and Communications Service Review
This stakeholder event is taking place on Tuesday 29 September 2015 from 9.45am-1.00pm in the Pandon room, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RS
Newcastle City Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group for Newcastle are undertaking a joint commissioning exercise to review and redesign Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) services for children and young people across the city with a view to have the redesigned service ready for 1st April 2016. 
At this event the final draft pathway for access to services will be presented along with key principles of the future service.   
To book your place, please contact Kirsty Williams before 18 September 2015 by emailing or call 0191 211 5389
Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. It is important that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute so spaces will be shared between parents and professionals.  This is part of an ongoing process for people to contribute to the review if you cannot attend this event they can let you know other ways you can have you say and get involved. If you need support to attend please let them know. 
Don’t forget, if you are looking for more local activities that your children and young people can take part in, take a look at your Local Authority Local Offer website.  If you don’t have this web address, please email us with details of which Local Authority you live in and we can send you the relevant link.
Local Services
BRAINBOX, the North East region-wide brain injury charity, is keen to hear from families with children with acquired brain injuries or other neurological conditions, aged between 14 and 17 with a view to supporting them through the transition period from adolescence into adulthood and adult services.
Please contact Julie or Mark on 07903046290 or email if you would like to find out more.
1) Updated Contact a Family parent guides
Over the summer, Contact a Family have updated some of our popular parent guides which are now available to download free from our website or let us know if you would like a hard copy (these are free to parent/carers).
These guides are free to parent/carers. If you are a professional then we ask that you make a small payment of £1 for each guide. Select 'order print version' next to any parent guide that is on sale via our Resource Library on our website
2) Extension to EHC plan transfer times
From last week the maximum timescale for transferring a child's statement of special educational needs onto an Education, Health and Care plan will extend from 16 to 20 weeks. This follows an announcement the government made in July.
For more information about this and what it will mean for families, please see the Contact a Family website
3) Research Request – Employment Opportunities
Donna Forrest is an undergraduate student at Newcastle College studying for a BA (Hons) Education and Professional Development degree.  She is undertaking a research project for her dissertation which is entitled What are parents, carers and young people’s understanding of employment opportunities for those with learning difficulties and disabilities?
The main aim of this study is to speak with young people with learning difficulties and disabilities and their parents and carers to get various impressions of their understanding of employment opportunities and Donna is very interested in getting first-hand accounts from individuals currently seeking employment or those who are about to start looking. 
What she will learn from this project will help her to better understand what young people and their families know about employment services and opportunities for those with learning difficulties and disabilities, where do they go to find this information and how is current information disseminated to them.  Additionally, the results could address unanswered aspects of her research questions or produce new findings that she has not anticipated which could highlight a number of new avenues that could be explored in future studies.
If you are interested in finding out more or would like to take part, please email Donna at
4) Research Request – Families and Social Networking Sites
Ipshita Debnath, a PhD student at Newcastle University is currently looking for families and their family members who use social media such as, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo etc. to communicate with each other and who might be interested in taking part in her project. The only limitation is that children must be over the age of 13 to use social media.
Participation in this research is voluntary, more detailed information about the project including your rights as a participant will be provided upon expression of interest.
If you would like to find out more, please email Ipshita at or call 07854377780
Help us help more families like yours
The need for our services is growing all the time. Families with disabled children are more likely to struggle financially and often feel isolated and exhausted. With your support, we can help change this. Contact our fundraising team to see how you can help on 020 7608 8786 or email