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Parent Carer Information Bulletin February 2016

Welcome to this month’s information bulletin for parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities up to the age of 25.

Parent Carer Groups

Sunderland Parent Carer Group

The next meeting is on

Tuesday 2nd February
10am – 12 noon
Sunderland Carers’ Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Sunderland SR5 1SF

Guest speaker: Shona Chambers from Contact a Family will tell parents about what services they offer.

Washington Parent Carer Group

The next meeting is on

Wednesday 10th February
10am – 12 noon
Rainbow Family Centre, 34 Elliot Terrace, Concord, Washington NE37 3AE

Guest speakers: Shona Chambers and Helen Bailey from Contact a Family will tell parents about what services they offer.

Hetton Parent Carer Group

There is no meeting in February due to the school holidays.

Transition Support Group

This group is open to all parents and carers of young people going through transition from children’s services to adult services.

The next meeting is on

Thursday 25th February
10.30am – 12 noon
Sunderland Carers’ Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Sunderland SR5 1SF

Guest speakers: Paul Tomlins and John Mordy from Sunderland City Council will talk with parents about school transport.

We look forward to seeing you there.

For more information please contact Sunderland Carers’ Centre on (0191) 549 3768.

Information, Activities and Events

For more details on any of the information, activities or events mentioned below please contact the organisations directly or Sunderland Carers’ Centre on (0191) 549 3768.

Young Carers Consultation - Families

Sunderland Carers' Centre is currently reviewing how young carers are being supported within the City of Sunderland. It is important this is done to ensure that as a centre we keep adapting to political and economic changes, also to ensure that we and the local authority are meeting the needs of young carers within the city.

It is really important that we reach as many young carers and their families as possible to get their ideas, opinions and views on what the future service for young carers should look like. We need to know what areas of support work and what areas need improvement. This is not just about the Carers' Centre - it includes other professional bodies such as education, health and housing. It is a great opportunity to influence the direction and shape of the future support systems for young carers and their families.

Families who participate in the consultation will be entered into a draw to win a family cinema ticket for a film of your choice.  Please ensure you give us your name and phone number.

Click here to complete the families questionnaire

Young Carers Consultation - Professionals

We would also like to gather feedback from professionals who work with young carers and their families.

Click here to complete the professionals questionnaire

The closing date for responses is Friday 12th February 2016.

Parent Carer Groups Update

Sunderland Carers’ Centre runs monthly groups for parent carers of children and young people with special educational needs and / or disabilities aged from birth to 25. We run these groups in three locations around the city to enable carers to easily access them.

In December we conducted a survey asking if parents attended any of the groups, which day of the week best suited parents, what parents wished to gain from attending a group and was there any barriers to accessing a group.
53 parents completed the survey in total.

89% of parents knew about the groups with 62% saying that they have attended one.

60% had attended the Sunderland group, 20% the Washington group, 32% the Houghton group and 17% the Transition group. 81% said they were interested in attending future groups. The majority wanted the groups to be held from Monday to Thursday on a morning.

29% of parents said that Washington was the best area to access a group, 26% preferred Sunderland and 17% favoured Houghton.

Parents said they wanted to meet other carers, listen to speakers around their child and family as well as about their own health and wellbeing.

The barriers facing parents preventing them to come along to groups varied however just less than half the parents who completed the survey said that there were no barriers.

Since the survey was completed we have carried on doing the four groups and invited professionals to come and chat about their services i.e. Contact a Family, school transport and ShARP. However, we have had minimum parents turn up to the groups.

We have planned the parent carer group meetings up until the end of March then we will reconsider further groups if the numbers remain very low.

We would prefer to be able to continue to run our groups, as we know those people who do attend enjoy them, so please if you have thought about coming along and for whatever reason so far have not made it, we would love to see you in the near future. If there is a reason to why you don’t want to come along and think we could support you to attend, please let us know. We understand it can be quite daunting coming along for the first time, but you can always bring a friend or family member to support you initially, or arrange to come five minutes earlier as a member of staff is usually there before the start of the group setting up.

We look forward to seeing more parents in the coming months.

Autism Friendly Early Opening at Great North Museum: Hancock

The Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle will be opening for an early private museum viewing for people who have an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), along with their families and carers, before the general public have access to the museum on Wednesday 17 February 2016 from 9am - 10am. It’s free to attend but booking is essential as there are a limited number of tickets available.

You can also download a Visual Story from the museum website which may help prepare those with ASC for their visit.

Click here for more information and to book tickets

Disability Matters Call For Evidence

Disability Matters is proud to partner with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to promote the importance of inclusion and access for all disabled children and young people aged 0 - 25 years.

They are collecting evidence and case-studies from young disabled people, parent carers and those who work or volunteer with disabled people to highlight the many positive ways that people are:

  • working pro-actively with disabled children and young people
  • enabling inclusion
  • making services accessible

They are interested in examples that relate to all disabilities, including intellectual / learning disabilities, physical disabilities, complex needs and visual or hearing impairments.

They will compile the responses to this survey in a report that will be available in the early summer of 2016.

Get Involved

Please share your views by completing this short online survey - click here

A version of the survey can be downloaded as an easy read survey - click here

An introduction can also be downloaded as an easy read overview - click here

The survey closes on Friday 11th March.

Sunderland Empire - Accessible Performances this season

This season Sunderland Empire has a range of BSL, audio, captioned and relaxed performances as well as supported experiences.

Click here for more details

Sunderland, Washington and Coalfields Parent Carer Council

The next meeting of the Parent Carer Council will be on:

Friday 26th February
10am – 12 noon
Sunderland Carers' Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Sunderland SR5 1SF

New members are welcome.

For more information please contact Wendy Greenhow at Sunderland Carers’ Centre on (0191) 549 3768.

Useful Vision

Useful Vision helps families with blind or sight impaired children get the most out of life. They run fun activities for children from 0 – 19 across the region. All activities are free to families registered with them.

Click here for the February, March and April activity programme

If you would like to register for any of these events, be put on the mailing list for future activities or find out more contact 0845 6048491 or email

Contact a Family North East - In Contact Newsletter January 2016

Click here to read the latest newsletter

The 5p Bus

The 5p Bus will be visiting Barmston on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, starting Tuesday 8th March.

Click here for details

South Tyneside College

South Tyneside College provides a wide range of courses tailored to meet the needs of students with a range of difficulties from mild / moderate and autism e.g. life skills, cooking, helping independence etc.

Click here for more information

Down Syndrome North East - new group in Sunderland

There is a new group starting in Sunderland on the last Monday of each month, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm at Fuzzy Ed’s, Harvester, Ryhope Road, Sunderland SR2 7RE.

The group is for children with Down Syndrome and their siblings and parents. The softplay in Fuzzy Ed’s is for ages 0 - 12 years (under 4 foot 9 inches). A baby area which caters for children 0 - 4 years and the older section for children 5-12 years. There are tables for parents / carers to have a coffee, chat and meet new families, but you must ensure that your child is supervised at all times.

The cost to you is £1.50 per child as DSNE is subsidising the full cost of £3 by 50%.

You don’t need to book just come along and make some new friends.

ADHD Support Group

Are you a parent of a child with ADHD? The Sunderland ADHD Support Group is run by parents themselves and they offer each other advice and support.

There are no meetings in February, however, you can still email the group for information or visit their facebook page.


Social Inclusion Youth Projects

There are a range of social inclusion youth projects across the city - click here for details