SEND Improvement Journey newsletter - June edition

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SEND Improvements Journey Newsletter

Introduction from Michelle Bellis


Hi, I’m Michelle Bellis, Strategic Participation Leader in Stockport Family and part of the SEND Improvement Programme Team. Welcome to the June edition of the SEND Improvement Journey e-newsletter.

Part of my role on our SEND Improvement Journey is to help embed a culture of effective co-production. What does that mean? Stockport has developed a definition for co-production with parents/carers, young people and professionals across health, care and education: “Co-production happens when all voices are actively listened to from the start of the planning process. This involves a mutual respect for each other’s views, with an open and honest relationship that is transparent and continually evolving to achieve meaningful and positive outcomes”.

This means I have the privilege of working with children, young people, parents/carers and workforce colleagues to ensure lived experience is at the heart of the design and delivery of services across our local area. There is already some great practice locally and National Co-production Week (6th to 10th July) will give us a great opportunity to celebrate what is happening across the local area, and provide learning opportunities to share knowledge about co-production and its benefits. See the article below for more detail. If you want to get involved in our improvement journey in any way, please get in touch by email:

Happy reading!

National Co-production week 6 - 10th July 2020

Co-Production Stockport

Whether or not you call it co-production, equal partnership, person-centred planning, or something similar, you are probably using insight or working alongside people to influence what you do.

We have committed to a SEND week of action to bring momentum and awareness to the SEND improvement programme. What better way to bring this, than to collaborate with the national co-production week. This will provide us with a great opportunity to share and show off our good practice, especially as we have an entire workstream dedicated to co-production.

If you have an example of where co-production has worked well, please get in touch! Let’s think about how we could share this during National Co-production week.



Pride awareness month

Every year, during the month of June, the LGBT community celebrates in a number of different ways. Across the globe, various events are held during this special month as a way of recognising the influence LGBT people have had around the world. 

Changing Faces activist Mikaela Moody shares her experiences of being disabled, gay woman and transgender, and the challenges of ‘passing’ as a woman when you have a visible difference.

Mikaela Moody is proud to be a disfigured, trans, gay women but says the world isn’t accepting of people like her yet.

Read more about Mikaela's experience here


The Proud Trust (Stockport)

The Proud Trust is a life saving and life enhancing organisation that helps LGBT+ young people to empower themselves and make a positive change for themselves, and their communities. Given Covid-19, they are still here for you and all LGBT+ young people.

To find out more about their work, as well as all the lovely people and partner organisations that help make all this happen, click here

Forward Stockport LGBT+ Centre

A local, inclusive hub for Stockport’s LGBT+ community, family and friends.  Given Covid-19 if you need food, medication, counselling or just want a chat, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07590 087 107 and a member of the team will deal with your query ASAP. 

LGBT+ Survey

Tina Carnally from Forward LGBT+ and Aba Graham from Nexus have produced the following survey on how Covid19 is affecting our communities:


send hub

The SEND Hub is open to anyone, including carers and professionals. It is part of the Council's 'early help' support structure.

The SEND Hub can be reached on 0161 217 6028 and by pressing option 2.
This new support hub is in addition to other new services the Council and its partners have launched to support residents during this difficult time. If you or anyone you know might benefit from any of the services, then please spread the word.

network of champions

We have created a Network of Champions for SEND, made up of willing parents, carers and professionals to provide support and signposting for children, young people and their families. Currently the champions are meeting fortnightly and are working on resources for clinics, surgeries and schools as well as our Co-production Charter.

If you're interested in becoming a Champion for SEND and want to find out more, please email

Overview of our SEND Improvement Journey

Here is a snapshot of information which details some of our achievements in May. We took this to the SEND Boardin June, so that Senior Leaders at the Council, as well as partners who also sit on the Board, can see all the great things going on. Our plan is to put one of these together each month to measure our engagement. We want our presence on social media, website visits to the Local Offer, SEND champions etc to increase each month!

Please get involved with our SEND online community:

Let's make SEND everybody's business!

sendip d

Subscribe to the SEND newsletter

We have now launched a 'subscription link' for the SEND e-newsletter. This will make it much more easier for you to subscribe and find out the latest about our SEND improvement programme.

Why don't you give it a try now and subscribe to receive our monthly issues :) 

Also, don't forget that this is 'our' send e-newsletter. If you wish to put forward any information, update or suggestions, then please email us at 


SEND E-learning

As part of our SEND improvement journey, we have created a SEND e-learning course which is aimed at everyone who works with children and young people aged 0-25. The e-learning is online for anyone (parent, professional or other) who wants to know more about what SEND is, what the law requires and how staff in and around Stockport apply the law.  You can do it all in one go or bit by bit and there are even quizzes at the end of sections for you to find out how much you know.  It's fun, it's factual and it's free!  Here's how to get going:

Please see our infographic below which outlines some amazing feedback we've had! 

E-Learning Infographic

stockport local fund

Funding for SEND community groups

In the last issue of the SEND e-newsletter, we shared how we are helping community organisations tackle the coronavirus pandemic via available funding. 

We have recently contacted some of the SEND groups who were successful in securing funding and asked them about what inspired them to apply


Today we are talking to Jan who is the founder of Autisk, a constituted community support group to support families in Stockport who have children and young people with autism. Jan applied for the first round of funding in March

"Hello Jan, Can you tell us about Autisk and what support they give to people?"

Hello. For me Autisk is a place for parents and carers to turn to during the assessment stages where you feel lost and alone as well as confused and doubting yourself as a parent .. I was that parent 16 years ago and it was a horrible place to be in!

pamepr pack

Why did you apply for the Stockport Local Fund?

During the pandemic I felt I was letting families down as we couldn’t operate face to face groups/workshops and events. I came up with the idea of producing sensory/ activity packs to help families have some fun together. I also put together pamper packs for parents themselves to encourage them to have some well-deserved relaxation. The majority of our families have no support during this time and are very isolated and alone.

Was it an easy process?

The process itself is easy. Once you have come up with an original idea that you want to do, you would just put it down in the application process. Once forms are filled in, it's pretty straight forward of waiting for it to be looked at, then getting the answer and if successful, the funding also!


Lastly, what motivates you to keep Autisk going?

I dreamt of setting up a support network and so I just did it, and it’s just grown and grown. I love seeing friendship build from the groups and workshops we run, and also seeing young people achieve things they’ve never been able to do before. I have a brilliant co chair Lee who’s always supported me and my crazy ideas and the rest of the committee and volunteers who help Autisk be what it is.


Walthew House

About Walthew House

Walthew House is an independently funded, volunteer led, local charity providing practical and emotional support ot over 300 people in Stockport who have sight or hearing loss every week.

How has the Stockport Local Fund supported Walthew House?

The Stockport Local Fund has helped us to provide care packages (tailored to each individual), online accessible exercise classes, local and national information in accessible formats (BSL, Braille, large print and electronic), socially distanced guided walks, social and wellbeing calls/video calls and so much more.

To date, we have provided over 70 care packages to people all over Stockport who are feeling lonely, isolated and bored. They are proving extremely popular! The packages have included all sorts such as connect 4, large piece jigsaw puzzles) and some treats- which have included fresh flowers, chocolates, juices and some cheese pies from someone's favourite bakery they are missing!

Pictured is Karen, one of our amazing volunteers.

Walthew house supports all ages. They have specific groups including a youth group for ages 5-14 and SK-Social which is specifically for visually impaired people aged 18-35.

If uou would like more information on any aspect of our services, please contact us on 0161 480 2612 /

If you have any questions about applying to the Stockport Local Fund, please email


TfGM Journey Assistance Cards

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has produced a flash card for those exempt from wearing face coverings (full list below). The card will be available on request from our Customer Services team, which can be contacted in the following ways: 

TfGM’s cards are valid across all transport modes and operators in Greater Manchester. They are discreet, easy to use and understand and can provide reassurance, especially if a person’s disability is hidden. You simply show the card on request to any member of staff who may ask why you are not wearing a face covering.

Face covering exemption card for public transport

Government guidance published on Monday 15 June 2020 sets out that the requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to:

·         Children under the age of 11.

·         Transport operator employees, when they are acting in the course of their employment.

·         Police officers or emergency responders such as paramedics or fire officers acting in the course of their duty.

Further information

Anyone who would like safe travel advice and support can speak to TfGM staff at bus stations and interchanges, including at our Travelshops. Alternatively, they can contact our Customer Services team:

Phone: 0161 244 1000 (Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, weekends 8am to 8pm)
Twitter: @OfficialTfGM
Web: TfGM website contact form
Post: Transport for Greater Manchester, 2 Piccadilly Place, Manchester, M1 3BG

Please share this information with your members, contacts, clients and partners.


PACTs: Sleep: Overlooked and Underrated

About this Event:

Wednesday 1st July



Sleep is a critical component of healthy development in children; vital for cognitive, physical and emotional development. Yet many children with additional needs have sleep problems which are often overlooked and even disregarded by professionals. This webinar will cover some key points in establishing a good bedtime routine and allow time for questions. The presenter will be Chris Hoyle, Autistic Spectrum Conditions Sleep Clinic Co-ordinator at the Together Trust.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite

steve broach

Virtual SEND Covid-19 session with SEND Barrister Steve Broach

Pacts and the Seashell Trust announced two dates for a virtual SEND legal Covid-19 session with SEND Barrister, Steve Broach.

If you missed them or want to find out more, the webinars are now available to view via YouTube. Please follow the links below:


#StandUpForEarlyYears: Supporting additional needs and transitions

Romiley Methodist Preschool in Stockport has been supporting children with SEND and managing transitions through lockdown and beyond. It was great to see this article in Nursery World last week which features one of early years SENCos in Stockport.

Sarah Williamson, the SENDCO for Romiley Methodist Preschool in Stockport., says, 'We are a small charity preschool that is run from a church hall. We have a small staff base and although funding is extremely limited, have a long term staff team that continuously supports children, families and the local community.

'Through this lockdown we have been creating videos of ourselves, telling stories, creating bug hunts, singing nursery rhymes and posting updates and activities for parents and children.

'As the SENDCO I have been supporting children and families with SEND. I have been calling, messaging parents, sending out resources from routine to sleep solutions for children with additional needs. I have also been managing transition for children to primary school in this strange time.



Early Years update

The Stockport EY Improvement Team provides information, advice and training to local providers of childcare and early education places on behalf of the council.

During Covid, regular contact has been made with local childminders, early years settings and teachers in the EYFS in schools during the pandemic.  Stockport early years and Start Well teams have been working with inclusion service colleagues to co-ordinate the support for children with SEND in the early years.

We are using our central record of vulnerable children and children with SEND to support our direct contact and offer of support to settings. As more children are now returning to early years and childcare we are providing advice and sharing the latest transition guidance. This early years guidance is also available to see on the Local Offer. Where settings have identified families that may need additional support we are linking the setting with the Start Well locality teams.

The Early Years SEND Consultant, Anne Smith and Educational Psychologist Madeleine Laird provided an online opportunity for Childminders and SENCOs in early years settings on the 24th of June. The focus of this session was on transition. Over 20 practitioners turned joined in with the Webinar, which is great news. 

To be kept up to date from Early Years in Stockport, you can also follow them on Twitter

Exciting projects for SEND Young People

Message from Andrew Smith Inclusion Ambassador/ SEND Advocate

Spectrum Gaming

On 31st May Spectrum Gaming officially launched and has received overwhelming positive feedback. Spectrum Gaming is a free, friendly and accepting community for autistic young people (aged 13-17) who have a shared passion for gaming. Our main focus is for autistic gamers to make some friends, play games together and have fun! The platform we use is Discord, but we also have a Roblox community and a Minecraft Realm that young people can access.

This is a project I have been working on alongside other autistic advocates in my spare time for a long time, and I am happy that we are finally ready to open the community up to more young people. We also have a YouTube channel for the young people who are interested in YouTube.

The national Association of Therapeutic Parenting

On a similar note to Spectrum Gaming, The national Association of Therapeutic Parenting has recently launched a server for young people on Minecraft Java Edition! This is for anyone under the age of 18 (the typical age range is 9-14). This server is for all SEND young people to access and they have added trauma friendly extras to the game such as:

    1. The children can build a safe space that no one can enter or destroy under any circumstances
    2. If the child trashes their world during a meltdown we can contact the mods and they will restore the world 
    3. The children can also have an indestructible treasure box
    4. Moderators have been trained to use TP language to help children cool down if they are swearing (they get a temp mute) or otherwise misbehaving. 
    5. The child’s game will be linked to their responsible adult so this means if they child is struggling or mods are worried about them in any way they will email the responsible adult to give them a heads up. 
    6. Less violence in the options!
  • If you would like more information please email: I am not involved with this, but would be more than happy to explain to anyone how Minecraft servers work and what set up is needed for this.

The Therapeutic Forest is running alternate sessions of foraging treasure hunts, virtual forest school and outdoor yoga every Saturday for SEND young people including a session this Saturday! Spaces are limited, but you can sign up here:

I also have a bit of insider information I wanted to share – The National Autistic Society is looking at creating ‘National Branches’. These are online groups based on the special interests of autistic people, as you don’t have to live near each other to enjoy the same interest! The details aren’t confirmed yet but the first group is going to be based around Lego. If you have any suggestions for groups that should be set up because of young people you know, please let me know and I can pass them on!

Another useful bit of information is that Respect for All (a counselling service) is now running a telephone helpline service for people in Greater Manchester who are autistic or have a learning disability (including their parents and carers). I have attached more information to this email.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that I am still running Zoom meetings for SEND young people. In addition to general groups where we play games, do quizzes and have a chat:

  1. We are running a group for autistic students who are attending Bury College next year, so they can meet others who are joining.
  2. The Met ran a virtual drama group for SEND young people. This is currently on hold but let me know if you know of anyone who is interested, and I can send an update if they are up and running again!

I am also really keen to chat with others and office advice on running virtual support groups, as the young people who have attended these groups have said that they have found them very valuable.

I am off work next week, but people can email me at and I will respond when I am back.


Your Story during 'lock-down'

As you may already be aware that Healthwatch Stockport are half way through our survey ‘Your Story during lock-down’. We really want to hear the views of how the lock-down has affected you and what has helped you cope with the lock-down. We would really appreciate it if you took a couple minutes of your time to fill in a survey or where you can forward it on to a family, friend or colleague.  You can also request a paper version of the survey or in large font you can do so by contacting the office on 0161 974 0753.

You can also nominate a community hero – a person you feel has gone above and beyond to help their community out.

Take the survey here

Nominate a community hero


Free research event- Autisca

Autistica Research Festival will bring together autism researchers, autistic people, relatives and carers to hear the latest research and discuss how to make progress towards long, happy, healthy lives for autistic people.

There will be a range of sessions each day including panel discussions showcasing the latest autism research, workshops, breakfast discussion sessions, Q&A panel sessions and social events happening in the evenings.

Our wide range of content will include Dr Sarah Cassidy, Dr Katie Maras and Professor Jacqui Rodgers as our Keynote Speakers.

Delegates will be able to choose which sessions to attend, fitting them around your own working week and personal interests. All sessions will be recorded and shared after the end of the festival. The festival is free to attend, though we ask delegates if possible to make a small donation when registering for their tickets to go towards the work we do at Autistica.

You can see the full festival programme here.

What do all these new words mean?

With the coronavirus pandemic, there are now lots of new words for us to learn. This easy read guide for words about coronavirus and what they mean is a glossary for young children and adults. Click on the following link here



Stockport Action Youth Speakers (SAYS)

Stockport Action Youth Speakers (SAYS) is a group of like-minded children and young people between 13-25 years who have special educational needs and disabilities. We live or receive services in Stockport and want to ensure that services and provision meet the needs of children and young people. We offer a safe place for young people to share their views and experiences of services to strategic leaders. Our role is to ensure their views/experiences are listened to and fed into the design, development, delivery and review of Stockport Services. We work in partnership with Stockport’s Education, Health, Social care and local SEND organisations. We give children and young people a chance to come together, share information, give their views/experiences and support each other

Young People's Advisory Group

FLARE, the young people's advisory group supported by the Council for Disabled Children have lots of blogs online on a range of topics, from disability in the media to loneliness. Follow this link to read:

flare blog

The Prince’s Trust

The Prince's Trust is committed to being there for young people through our coronavirus support hub – please click on this link: Coronavirus Support Hub to view our national support guidance and digital resources.

We are continuing to offer support specific to Greater Manchester young people in the following ways: Explore Virtual, Explore Wellbeing, Get Into Technology, Future Leaders,  Get Started with Tech, Get started with Content Creation, Employability support, Live Job Board,  Enterprise, Development Awards

Know a Young Person who would benefit from one of these programmes or support offers?

You can refer them by contacting a member of our friendly customer service team on:

0800 842 842 or via our live web chat function (available from 9am – 9pm, seven days a week)

They will link you in with a member of our local team who will give you a welcome call or book you onto specific session.



future lea