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Activities & Events - 29th April 2016

1) Contact a Family - North East Re:Group Day

Do you run a parent support group in the North East? Then why not come along to the next Contact a Family Groups Development Day which is taking place on Tuesday 24 May 2016from 10.00am-2.00pm (lunch and refreshments are included) at The Dene Centre, Castle Farm Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1PH

The aims of these days are to bring group leaders together to share information, ideas and tips and hints about running support groups for parents with children with additional needs or disabilities in the region. They are useful for those who are just starting out, those who’ve been running a group for a little while and those who have had a group running for years – there’s always something to learn!
They are open to both parents and paid workers who run support groups in this region.

The focus for this Local Groups Support Day is looking at ways to help you reach further and how you can promote your group with the wider community. The session will help you to:

•           Identify the Gaps
•           Look at Areas of Development
•           See how you can progress to reach out across your local community to widen the number of families you reach

We have booked Lorraine Patterson an external facilitator to come along and facilitate the day. Lorraine recently did a webinar for Parent Forums about how they extend their reach. 

If you are interested in attending, please email us at to book your place or for any further information.
We can offer 2 places per support group so you can bring someone along from your group too.

2) Contact a Family – Coping and Support Workshops

We are rolling out our next suite of 4 workshops across the North East region. These free workshops are open to any North East parent/carers of children and young people aged 0-19 with any disability or additional need.

They will cover the following issues:
·         Understanding what causes stress
·         The impact on family life
·         Top tips
·         Sources of help, advice and support

We will also have Louise Taylor, Mindfulness Trainer who will be sharing hints and tips about mindfulness techniques (unfortunately Louise will be unable to attend the Tees Valley workshop due to a prior commitment).  

Workshop details:

Tees Valley - Monday 16 May 2016 at North Shore Academy, Talbot Street, Stockton-on-Tees TS20 2AY
County Durham - Monday 23 May 2016 at Cestria Community Room, Holyoake, South Pelaw, Chester-le-Street DH2 2EZ
Northumberland - Tuesday 24 May 2016 at Morpeth Methodist Church, Howard Terrace, Morpeth NE61 1HU
Tyne & Wear - Tuesday 7 June 2016 at Grace House, Bardolph Drive, Southwick, Sunderland SR5 2DE

All workshops will run from 10.00am to 2.00pm and will include lunch & refreshments

Places are limited and available on a first come, first served basis.  If you would like to attend, please email or call 0191 213 6300

3) MAIN Training

MAIN-Taking Autism Personally are running the following training/workshops in May 2016:

How to provide accurate social information to people on the autism spectrum on Wednesday 4 May 2016 from 9.30am–2:30pm
Introduction to the Autism Spectrum on Tuesday 10 May 2016 from 9.30am–12noon
Introduction to Social and Emotional Behaviours (SEBD) on Tuesday 24 May 2016 from 9.30am–12noon
How to write care plans for people on the autism spectrum on Tuesday 31 May 2016 from 9.30am–2.30pm

All workshops will be held at Centre North East, Middlesbrough

For prices and further details visit the Eventbrite website or the MAIN website or telephone the training team on 01642 608012

4) Useful Vision May and June Activities

Useful Vision provides positive opportunities and activities for vision impaired children aged 0-19 and their families in the North East.
They have the following activities coming up over the next couple of months:

Whitehouse Farm, Morpeth. As well as meeting the animals and an exclusive petting session, other attractions at the farm include; Birds of prey, Adventure playground, Pedal tractors, Panning for gold, Go karts, Bouncy castles, Trampolines, Willow maze, Indoor sandpit, Frisbee golf, Tractor trailer rides and ‘Farmers Den’ themed soft play barn. Sunday 8 May 2016, 10am - 3pm.

Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience. Travel back in the mari-time machine and experience how it was aboard a real British naval frigate, two centuries ago. Explore the quayside which features historic houses and shops.
Get a tour around HMS Trincomalee, Britain's oldest warship afloat. Take part in our rope making workshop and watch the cannon and musket displays. Children can also take part in a treasure hunt. Pirate fancy dress is optional. Sunday 22 May 2016, 11am – 3pm.

Forest Adventure Day, West Boldon. This bushcraft adventure day will take you back to basics, learning how to survive in the woods. You’ll build a shelter, practice safely cooking on a campfire, use basic woodworking tools, and complete team challenge. Aimed at children 6 years and over. Tuesday 31 May 2016, 10am – 2.30pm.

Rock Climbing at Rock Antics, Newton Aycliffe. Rock Antics is one of the top 10 climbing walls in the UK.  Nine metres high, the wall has 53 fixed ropes and 1000 square metres of dedicated climbing area, with simulated rock surfaces and textures, ranging from easy to extreme. Suitable for children aged 6 years and over. Wednesday 1 June 2016, 11am - 12.30pm.

Riding and Pony Grooming at The Pegasus Centre, Morpeth RDA. There will be a riding lesson, grooming and stable management session and quiz about all things horse related! Vision impaired children are free of charge, siblings are charged at £10 per sibling. Minimum age for riding is 4 years. The Pegasus Centre regulations state that no one over 12 stone can ride.Friday 3 June 2016, 10am - 1pm.

Stephenson Railway Museum, North Shields. Enjoy a morning of train themed activities, including clay modelling and Victorian dressing up. Visit the museum to find out about the local railway history. Finish your visit with a four mile return trip following the route of the coal trains from the collieries to the River Tyne behind a vintage locomotive in a 1950s passenger carriages. Sunday 5 June 2016, 10am – 12 noon.

Audio Descriptive Performance of ‘The Good Dinosaur’ at Tyneside Cinema. The Good Dinosaur is full of humour, heart, action and imagination, perfect for the whole family! It asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Saturday 11 June 2016, 10am - 12pm.

Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend. The Roman fort at Segedunum is the most completely excavated fort on Hadrian’s Wall. From the 35 metre viewing tower you can look out across the former fort to see the outlines of barrack blocks and stables, the headquarters building and the commander’s house. The museum has lots of interactive exhibits exploring all aspects of life in the fort which was home to a cavalry regiment. There will be object handling opportunities of replica and real Roman artefacts and craft activities for children of all ages. Sunday 26 June 2016, 10am – 12 noon.
If you have a vision impaired child and would like to register with Useful Vision or are already registered with Useful Vision and would like to attend an activity, please contact the office on0845 604 8491 or email Registration for families with a vision impaired child is free and activities are free to attend.

5) FASD Network Caregivers Support Group

Are you the caregiver of a child with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)? Then why not go along to the next FASD Network Caregivers support group meeting taking place onMonday 16 May 2016 from 12.00-3.00pm at City Church, Castlegate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2JQ

Your chance to meet other families raising a child with FASD to swap stories, share ideas and strategies and offer mutual support.

You will need to book your place in advance to attend so if you are interested, please call 07743380163 or email

6) Ace Playce Next Additional Needs Session

The next session will take place on Sunday 22 May 2016 from 4.00-6.30pm at Ace Playce, The Killingworth Centre, Killingworth
NE12 6 YT

The session is suitable for children with Autism & Disabilities & Additional Needs who can enjoy this soft play session with their siblings & families. There will also be a free craft hour from 4.30-5.30pm.

Admission costs are 1-4yrs £4.50; 5-12yrs £5.50; Adults & Babies under 12 months are free.

For more information, please email or call 0191 268 2388

7) Newcastle Post 16 Providers Network and the PfA Employment Sub group Workshop

This workshop will be led by young people with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities to raise aspirations that they and their peers can gain paid employment. The aim of the workshop is to raise awareness of the pathways and opportunities that can lead to employment for young people in Newcastle.

It is taking place on Tuesday 28 June 2016 from 9.30am-1.00pm, at the Main Hall, Westgate Community College, West Road, Newcastle. NE4 9LU

The workshop will include details of young people’s stories, the local and national employment picture and a number of information stands from relevant services and providers.

To book a place please e-mail Places need to be booked by Friday 17 June 2016 you will need to include your name, that you are a parent carer and a contact number.

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.

1) Free autism friendly football training sessions - Saturday mornings

All are welcome at free autism-friendly football training sessions taking place every Saturday from 10.00-11.00am in Lingfield Centre, Coulby Newham TS8 0XF (Behind the Lingfield Park, Park in the car park and you can't miss it).

Sessions are led by Gary, a qualified coach. It’s a fun session (for all ages up to 19) with a ball with support from Coulby Football Club. In bad weather sessions may take place in the Acorn Centre if they can secure a room, and are sometimes held at the Middlesbrough Sports Village if the pitch isn't in a good condition.

For more information please contact Gary on 07914833675

2) Stockton-on-Tees Dyspraxia Support Group

Stockton-on-Tees Dyspraxia Support Group is looking for new members to join their sports group for children aged 7-16.  The group takes place every Saturday during term time from 12.15-1.15pm at Conyers School in Yarm.

There will be a fully qualified coach to teach and help dyspraxic children with balance and coordination, confidence, self-esteem and social skills through different sporting activities.  Sessions are fun and only cost £3.50 to attend.

If you are interested or would like to find out more, please email or join their facebook group.

4) Durham Area Disability Leisure Group Trampoline Club

The trampoline club is held every Tuesday during term times from 5.00-6.30pm at ROF59, Durham Way South, Newton Aycliffe, DL5 6XN

Trampoline with a coach and have access to ROF59’s bounce and climb activities. Last entry is 6.00pm
You can just turn up on the day or contact DADLG to be sure of a place.  The cost to take part is £3 per person with a family DADLG subscription and £4 per person without.

For more information, email or call 07592 366454


1) Contact a Family North East Annual Survey


It’s time for our annual survey again – not another one to complete we hear you cry!! We know you get inundated with requests to fill in evaluation forms, surveys and feedback sheets but they really do make a difference – without the evidence of need through parent/carer views and comments from our 2015 survey, we may not have been able to secure the funding we have to expand our team here in the North East so please, if you can spare a few minutes, complete our survey.  


You never  know, one survey will be drawn at random to win a £50 shopping voucher for the supermarket of your choice – it could be you!  Thanks.


We are currently distributing our Spring newsletter too both by email and post – please look out for the survey included with these alongside a mailing list update sheet which we would also be grateful if you could complete if you wish to unsubscribe or change the format of how you receive our regional information.

Activities & Events - from 25th April 2016

1) Contact a Family – Coping and Support Workshops

We are rolling out our next suite of 4 workshops across the North East region. These free workshops are open to any North East parent/carers of children and young people aged 0-19 with any disability or additional need.

They will cover the following issues:
·         Understanding what causes stress
·         The impact on family life
·         Top tips
·         Sources of help, advice and support

We will also have Louise Taylor, Mindfulness Trainer who will be sharing hints and tips about mindfulness techniques (unfortunately Louise will be unable to attend the Tees Valley workshop due to a prior commitment).  

Workshop details:

Tees Valley - Monday 16 May 2016 at North Shore Academy, Talbot Street, Stockton-on-Tees TS20 2AY
County Durham - Monday 23 May 2016 at Cestria Community Room, Holyoake, South Pelaw, Chester-le-Street, DH2 2EZ
Northumberland - Tuesday 24 May 2016 at Morpeth Methodist Church, Howard Terrace, Morpeth NE61 1HU
Tyne & Wear - Tuesday 7 June 2016 at Grace House, Bardolph Drive, Southwick, Sunderland SR5 2DE

All workshops will run from 10.00am to 2.00pm and will include lunch & refreshments

Places are limited and available on a first come, first served basis.  If you would like to attend, please email or call 0191 213 6300

2) Contact a Family Meet the Team Event

A Meet the Team Information Drop In Event for professionals, parent support group leaders and parent carer forums.

As you will be aware, we have recently been successful in getting funding to not only continue our work in the North East but to increase our team. This is great news for us and we are starting to get out and about to meet people and deliver drop ins and workshops to more parents across the North East. At this event, you will be able to hear from each member of the team a little bit about what they do, it will also give you the opportunity to share more information about what you do and hopefully, we will also be able to look at how we might be able to support each other to support families.

Meet the Team is taking place at Disability North, The Dene Centre, Castle Farm Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1PH on
Wednesday 11 May 2016 from 1.00-3.00pm.

Refreshments, coffee and cake will also be on offer. You don’t need to book places, you can just drop in but if you know you are coming along, it would be great if you could just drop a quick email to with the numbers attending from your team or service (just so that we have enough cake!) – please note, this event is not for individual parent/carers – we hope to meet more of you at our future drop ins and workshops.  

3) Legal Surgeries

In partnership with Disability North and Irwin Mitchell, Contact a Family are continuing to offer legal surgeries at the Dene Centre, Castle Farm Road, Gosforth Newcastle NE3 1PH.

If you need legal advice and not sure who can help then these free Legal Surgery could be for you. Surgeries provide advice in relation to disability related issues from a lawyer 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.

The next surgery dates are Thursday 26 May 2016Tuesday 12 July 2016 and Thursday 29 September 2016
Appointments can be made for times between 10.00am-1.00pm and will be available in 30 minute sessions. 

Please note, as there are limited sessions on offer, they will be available on a first come, first served basis so if you would like to attend, please email us with your telephone number as we will need to call you to go through a short      pro-forma to collect some details prior to our appointment or call us on0191 213 6300

4) New Siblings Group at Pathways4All Tim Lamb Centre

'Just4Us' will be meeting once a month, offering a range of activities at the centre, and out across the Newcastle Area, including day trips in the holidays!  The first session is being held onTuesday 26 April 2016 from 5.00-7.00pm making pizzas at Pathways 4 All, Tim Lamb Children’s Centre, Rising Sun Country Park, Whitley Road, Benton, NE12 9SS

The group will also then plan activities for future meetings. The cost to attend is £3. The group is for those aged 8-16.

Registration forms must be completed as parents do not need to stay.

Please contact Deborah to sign up on 0191 2665233 or email

5) Newcastle Youth Participation Taster Event

This event is for young people aged 11-18 living in Newcastle who have disabilities and additional needs for them to have a say in the services provided for young people in the city.

The taster is on Wednesday 27 April 2016 from 4.00-6.30pm at WEYES, 4 Graingerville North, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6UJ

Young people can bring along friends or family members – activities and refreshments will be provided.

If you are interested in going along, please call 0191 2733997

6) May Cinema Screenings

Dimensions next autism friendly screenings include:

Zootropolis on Sunday 1 May 2016 at Cineworld (Middlesbrough)
The Jungle Book (PG) on Sunday 8 May 2016 at 10am at Showcase (Teesside)
The Angry Birds Movie on Sunday 22 May 2016 at Odeon cinemas (Metrocentre, Silverlink and Darlington)
Alvin and the Chipmunks – Roadchip on Sunday 29 May 2016 at Vue (Gateshead,Cramlington and Hartlepool)

Read full details on the Dimensions website

Access Cinema: Sensory Friendly screenings at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle:

Capture the Flag (PG) on Sunday 8 May 2016 10.30am

Tickets are just £4 for everybody. Carers with a carer’s pass or accompanying the holder of a Max Card, HUB Card or CEA pass will be admitted for FREE (one companion per party). To book tickets, join our Access Cinema mailing list, or find out more about Access Cinema, please call their Box Office team on 0191 227 5500.

Full details can be found on the Tyneside Cinema website

7) Daisy Chain Open Day

Daisy Chain at Calf Fallow Farm, Calf Fallow Ln, Stockton-on-Tees TS20 1PF offers a range of activities and services for families affected by Autism.

They are holding an open day on Bank Holiday Monday, Monday 2 May 2016 from 12.00-4.00pm and admission is free.
There will be entertainment for all the family including inflatables, animals, stalls and much more.

For more information contact Daisy Chain on 01642 531 248 or you can fill out an event form on their website

8) Fulfilling Lives Event in County Durham

This free event is for people with Learning Disabilities and their carers.

It is taking place on Tuesday 31 May 2016 from 10.00am-4.00pm at New College Durham.  The day will include a Market Stall Information Event from 10.00am-1.00pm and the County Durham Adults Learning Disabilities Engagement Forum from 1.00-4.00pm

The day will promote activities and choices in the community, networking, a chance to have your say and make new friends. There will be games and a free prize draw. Refreshments will be available along with food from the College café.

For further information, please contact Julia Smith, Ben Newton or Julie Simpson on 03000 265443

9) South of Tyne and Wearside Deaf Children’s Society Youth Activities Project

South of Tyne and Wearside Deaf Children’s Society working with NDCS and Sign It Hear present this activity at SafetyWorks.

Are you aged 8–18 years old, Deaf / Hearing Impaired and live in the North East? Then why not go along, have fun and make new friends. The day will include Fire Safety; First Aid; Road Safety; Police

It will take place at SafetyWorks, Whickham View, Newcastle upon Tyne on Wednesday 1 June 2016 from 1.00–3.30pm

If you are interested, please send name, age and contact details to

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.

1) Middlesbrough Sportability Club

Get involved. Why not take your children along, have fun, meet new friends and get active.  Numerous activities are provided.

The club is for children and young people aged 7 to 19 years and is held on Saturday mornings at Holmwood School, Saltersgill Avenue,Easterside,TS201BE from 10.00am- 12.00pm

Standard sessions cost £2 per person. They also provide activities throughout the school holidays

The club provides a text alert service to let you know about forthcoming activities, to receive this information, text your name and number to 07988201107. For more information about the club, see their website

2) Twisting Ducks in Morpeth

Twisting Ducks are pleased to announce their new performing arts academy for people with learning disabilities &/or autism 16+ in Morpeth Northumberland from September 2016. It will run on Fridays from 10.00am-4.00pm and cost £6.50 per hour.

To find out more or to book a free taster session contact Jay or Ani on 07925167775 or email or find out more from the Twisting Ducks website


1) Tell your local council to stop short breaks cuts

Contact a Family have found worrying evidence of cuts to crucial short breaks (respite) services in many local areas. We are therefore calling on our supporters to send our template email to your local council to help protect the future of short breaks for families.

You can read more and download the template letter from our website
4) County Durham Parents – Free Training Autism Spectrum

MAIN training is available to parents/carers of people who reside in County Durham and professionals working in County Durham such as social workers, people working in care and residential settings, colleges, youth offending service, prison service etc.  Attendance at the Awareness training is required before progressing on to further training courses as this is the foundation on which to build further knowledge. 

All training will be held at Seaton Holme, Easington Village, County Durham SR8 3BS.  The first session is awareness training on Thursday 5 May 2016 from 9.30am–1.00pm followed by a monthly session covering a range of autism related topics.

To see if you are eligible to attend please contact Helen Jaques at MAIN by email at or call 01642 608012.

5) National Autistic Society Tyne & Wear Branch Activity Club

Kayaking is the next activity taking place on Saturday 14  May 2016 from 10.30am–12.30pm at Cullercoats Bike and Kayak Hire. 1A Norma Crescent, Cullercoats, NE26 2PD

This activity is suitable for 8 years and above and participants must be able to tread water. Wetsuits are provided and because this is a more difficult activity, they have allocated a few spaces for parents/carers as well.

Suggested donation of £3 per person. Siblings welcome. Parents/Carers must stay to supervise their children. 

For more details and to book your place contact 07920 086299 or email Nastyne&

6) Hedley’s College Open Day

Formerly known as Percy Hedley College, Hedley’s is holding an open day for interested students and their families, teachers, personal advisers, care managers, social workers and associated professionals taking place on Thursday 19 May 2016 at Jesmond and Forest Hall.

There will be a morning session from 10.00-11.30am and an afternoon session from 1.30-3.00pm

To book your places, please contact Kasia Gorowoska on 0191 2127853 or email

7) National Deaf Children’s Society Event - Starting school: Education rights and responsibilities

Do you have a deaf child between ages 2 and 4? Are you looking or thinking about school options for your child?

NDCS is inviting all families with deaf children who are pre-school age to join them on this one day event to learn more about how to support deaf children at school, how to enforce yours and your child’s rights and learn more about their communication and the technology available to support them in and outside of school. 

Topics covered in the workshops include:

•           Finding the right school
•           Ensuring equality and inclusion
•           Learning about local services

The event is taking place on Saturday 21 May 2016 from 9.30am–4.30pm at Jury’s Inn Newcastle, Scotswood Road, Newcastle, NE1 4AD. The event is free to NDCS members and booking is essential

During the workshops your children will be cared for by a mobile crèche company. Lunch and refreshments are also provided.

If you wish to book or need more information please contact Steph Faboya by email at or call 0121 234 9837 or 07890 318741

8) Seminars at Daisy Chain

Autism – Understanding and managing rage and meltdowns on Wednesday 8 June 2016 from 9.30am-3.00pm
Autism - Sensory challenges and strategies on Thursday 7 July 2016 from 9.30am-3.00pm

Cost to attend each seminar is Professionals £50 and Parents/carers £20. The seminar will help families and professionals who have an understanding of autism Consider the different sensory systems and how they work together; Examine how sensory information may be processed differently; Understand how children with autism may have different sensory experiences; Share strategies and approaches to help with sensory needs.

Tea and coffee will be provided. Attendees are required to provide their own lunch. Seminars will take place at Daisy Chain, Calf Fallow Lane, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees TS20 1PF

Seminars will be delivered by Sarah Houghton-Birrell, Autism Consultant. Sarah is an independent autism consultant and trainer with 25 years’ experience in a range of roles related to the needs of individuals with autism. She is passionate about working with professionals and parents to increase understanding and achieve optimal outcomes for all concerned.

Please call 01642 531248 to book a place and request an application form

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.

1) Free Swimming Lessons in Sunderland

Level Water is offering free swimming lessons for disabled children in Sunderland. They fund lessons for children who meet the following criteria:

·         Aged 4 to 11
·         With a physical, hearing or visual disability
·         Without a behavioural, social or learning difficulty
·         Who cannot swim ten metres

Lessons will be held at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre. 

If you are interested, in the first instance  you should send an email enquiry to stating your child's age, disability and postcode.  They will then get back to you with a full application form for you to complete.

2) South Tyneside Parent Carer Forum – get involved

The forum is looking for parents of children and young people with SEN or additional needs to join the forum to help your local area provide the support that’s needed. There will be regular meetings to help you get your opinions across.

If you are interested and would like to find our more, please email Nicquina Docherty at

3) Samara Dodgson Photography

Samara Dodgson runs this mobile photography service that caters specifically for children with additional needs.

Sessions are of a very relaxed nature and are designed so that children and families keep the same routine as usual. Samara has 12 years’ experience in photography and therefore able to give you high quality, professional images that are taken from the comfort of your own home or location of your choice.

If you are interested in finding out more, please visit Samara Dodgson’s website


1) Carers - tell the government how it can support you


The government is calling for evidence to find out how they can improve support for informal carers. They are welcoming evidence from carers, those who have someone care for them, social workers and other professionals that support carers.


Informal carers (also called unpaid carers) are people who freely give their time and energy to provide support for friends or family members who are in need. There are many different types of informal care; this ranges from parents providing round-the-clock care for disabled children to friends or neighbours helping out with odd jobs and transport.


See our website for more information and the link to the call for evidence. Closing date for responses is 30 June 2016

2) Disability Employment Gap - your views sought


The Work and Pensions Committee has announced an inquiry into the Government’s commitment to halve the "disability employment gap" – the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people. The inquiry will assess the scale of the challenge and the likely effectiveness of the Government’s employment support and benefit policies in achieving this goal.


BASE will be submitting evidence to the inquiry and we'd like your views as soon as possible to enable us to compile a submission. You'll find a list of points to be covered within the submission on the Committee website.


Local Services

1) 1 Hart, 1 Mind, 1 Future and Mister Twisters Hartlepool

1 Hart, 1 Mind, 1 Future- Hartlepool’s parent carer forum and Mister Twisters are holding weekly soft play sessions for children and young people aged 0-25 years old  with additional needs and disabilities.

These sessions are held every Monday from 5.00-7.00pm at Mister Twisters, Unit 23, Park View Industrial Estate West,Hartlepool
TS25 1PE and the cost to attend is £3.95 per child or £6 with play and meal.

For more information please call 07896054361

2) Northumberland Bus Buddies    

The Bus Buddies project supports young people aged 13-19 with disabilities who live in South East Northumberland. The young person is matched to a Bus Buddy Peer mentor (aged 18-30 years) or the project co-ordinator; where they go out on weekly one to one sessions to become more independent by using public transport and carrying out fun, social activities.

It does this in one of two ways:

·         Travel Training: The project coordinator or bus buddy does a short, intensive piece of travel training with the young person; to enable them to learn to make a specific journey by bus, safely and independently
·         Peer mentoring: By linking the young person with a volunteer peer mentor or ‘buddy’, who meets up with them on a one to one basis each week to support them over a longer period of time to learn new skills, make choices, increase their social opportunities and become more independent and confident.
A Bus Buddy Peer Mentor may help by Providing options and guidance; Being a listening ear and talking through any problems; Helping the young person to access local leisure/community activities; Helping the young person to learn about, research and use public transport to attend further education, community activities/clubs or everyday activities and Increasing the young person’s independence and confidence

Contact Bus Buddies for more information or to make a referral by calling 01670 353394

3) Jack in the Box Soft play session at Fuzzy Ed’s

Exclusive soft play, games, arts and crafts for  children and young people with disabilities and additional needs. These sessions run every Wednesday from 5.00-7.00pm at Fuzzy Ed’s, The Coulby Farm Pub, Newham Hall, Stokesley Rd, Middlesbrough TS8 9DX. They are open to children/young people aged 18 and under. Parent/carer supervision is required.

The cost to attend is £4.95 per child/young person and siblings are welcome to attend. There is no need to book, you can just turn up on the day.

For more information, contact Jack in the Box on 07595458515 or email

4) LEAP Together Sessions

LEAP stands for Let’s Embrace Autistic Play. Sessions will run fortnightly on a Wednesday at Cracker Soft Play, Unit 0 Hadrian Business Park, Haltwhistle NE49 0EX from 4.00-6.00pm with an entry fee of £4.00 per child.

Sessions run in a dedicated room, providing a sensory stimulation experience for those on the spectrum, and will also be a meeting point for parents who can share strategies and feel relaxed and welcome.

Set up by local parent Emma Rodden, you can find out more information on the Facebook page

5)  Gateshead Autism Information Hub

The Autism Information Hub is located at Gateshead Central Library and offers resources about autism and a monthly face to face information and signposting service to people with autism, their families/carers and practitioners. There will be a wide variety of helpful books available to borrow covering a range of topics such as diagnosis, sensory differences, anxiety, sleep and social skills etc.

Face to face sessions will be held on the second Monday of every month from 9.30am-12noon.

Directions to the Central Library, opening times, accessibility information and contact details can be found on the Gateshead Central Library website

For more information about the face to face sessions contact Joanna Haslam or Elaine Brownless, Specialist Liaison Teachers, Gateshead Council on Tel: 0191 433 8725 or 0191 433 8730 or email: or

6) North Tyneside Independent Travel

The Independent travel training team is available to support schools and colleges in working towards targets of Independent Travel on EHC plans or for other reasons.

The Independent travel training facility has two sections:

1. Working one to one with students from North Tyneside to train and support them in using public transport rather than taxis, particularly from school/college to home. Working in real time, before and after school or building up the training and travelling during the day. We complete full journeys to begin with and gradually reduce the amount of staff support until the student is fully confident in travelling independently.

2. Group Work: The large car park of Beacon Hill school has been transformed into an innovative travel training area for children and young people with learning difficulties. It comes complete with real life road features, traffic signals, road markings and street furniture and a bus stop, metro station and carriage. It provides an interactive and fun resource for first time travellers within a secure environment and enables users to build experience and confidence before travelling independently. We can tailor lessons in order to deliver a lesson about a topic of your choice: such as road safety, safety on transport and journey planning.

For further information please see the school website or contact the Independent Travel Training co-ordinator Alex Appleby on 0191 643 3000 or email

7) Research Request

Do you have a young child with a diagnosis of ASD, aged between 4-9 years? Would you like to help out with some research? We are a group of researchers at Newcastle University.  We are interested in understanding how young children experience their sensory world and how they deal with and react to everyday sounds and textures.

We know from previous research that children with autism sometimes have difficulties dealing with sensory experiences. At the moment we do not have the right tools to measure these responses accurately. This study will help to develop a way gaining a better understanding of these experiences. We are also interested in hearing from parents about young children's worries and repetitive behaviours. We hope this research will benefit all the families by providing a better understanding of how children experience the world and emotions such as anxiety. If you agree to take part one of the researchers (Magda Glod) will visit you at home. Mums or Dads will be asked to complete some questionnaires about their child's experiences and reactions. Children will be asked to play some games involving listening to everyday sounds and touching various textures. We will video-record the session. It will take up to 1 hour for the child to complete all the games. 

If you are interested or want to hear more please email or and we can provide you with an information sheet. Thank you

8) Curious Connections

A new weekly session at the Sunderland Empire being held there every Monday from 4.15-5.45pm for young people aged 13+ with autism and additional needs. Sessions cost £2 per week.

This term time weekly session will give young people the opportunity to have fun and participate in different art forms. Young people will work together to create a piece of theatre which will be performed as part of a special programme called NT Connections.

For more information, please call Hollie & Hope on 0191 5661056 or email

1) Short breaks matter: New resources for parent carers and providers

This month Contact a Family is letting families know about their rights to short breaks services. In this article on our website we launch new resources for parent carers, local authorities and service providers.

We've been supporting this work as part of the Short Breaks Partnership alongside the charities Council for Disabled Children, Action for Children and KIDS.

2) CBF and CDC launch Paving the Way

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) and the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) have today announced the launch of a website called ‘Paving the Way.’

The website aims to provide families, professionals, staff, and commissioners with information about how to reduce challenging behaviour and to improve the wellbeing of children with learning disabilities. This website is a result of the Early Intervention Project – a joint project, now in its third year, between the CBF and the CDC.

The project has centred on helping families who are raising children with learning disabilities whose behaviour may be described as challenging to get the right information and support early on. The ‘Paving the Way’ website aims to collate all the information and resources that the project has generated in one easy-to-navigate site.

3) Will your child need support to move into adult services? Information about changes in England

Over the last two years, the way families with disabled children are supported has changed.

The Care Act 2014 includes new rights for families with a child who may need support to prepare for the transition to adult services (usually at age 18). It also provides rights for young carers who are approaching adulthood

See the Contact a Family website for more information.

4) Cerebra Problem Solving Toolkit

This problem solving toolkit is for families and advisers who are encountering difficulties with the statutory agencies in relation to the provision of health, social care and education support services. This toolkit aims to unpick these problems and to develop effective strategies for resolving them.

You can find out more and download the Toolkit from the Cerebra website

5) Merlin’s Magic Wand – apply now

Merlin’s Magic Wand and now welcoming applications on behalf of children aged 2-18 with a confirmed Serious illness/Long Term illness, disability or disadvantage, who would benefit from a day out at a Merlin attraction.

Due to high demand, they are currently only accepting applications from those families or children we have not previously supported/have not visited us before (this includes those families with additional children with disabilities/illnesses)

To apply, or for full information and to find out if you are eligible, please visit their website

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

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