Heard it on the 'parent grapevine' - a great family find
We’ve been speaking to the creators of SENDirect, an online resource which makes it easier for families to find support activities and products that are accessible for their children. It’s a great tool if you’re looking for useful services such as childcare or afterschool clubs, or information about budgeting or family support. Here’s what Elizabeth Archer, the Project Director, told us about the idea.
SENDirect started like this: four years ago I was with six other professionals from different charities having a conversation about how difficult families found it to find accessible experiences for their children. We talked about how wrong it is that children with additional access needs were unable to have the kind of experiences their peers take for granted. We shared anecdotes from parents about how they found out about places that were accessible on the ‘parent’s grapevine’ and years too late. We asked ourselves how we could make it easier for families to share their experiences and find the right things when they need them. The discussion resulted in the SEND Consortium, nine national charities working together to create SENDirect: a place where school gates recommendations became accessible to all families everywhere.
SENDirect was built with families of children with additional needs for families like yours. It’s designed to be your online community space where you can keep up with what other families are up to (through our family blogs), swap tips on activities and support your families can enjoy (through our reviews), and get accurate and up to date information on the services, support and activities available to you (through our content). It’s also the place where you can come together to support one another to get the support and services you need. It takes minutes and you can do it from home.
We worked really hard to make SENDirect easy and instinctive to use, and to make sure we could gather the information we need to influence change whilst respecting your privacy. More than 7,000 services are available to view and review on the site, and we’ve had more than 40,000 visitors since our launch in January. The online school gate is ready. But to make a difference we need you to use it.
Here’s how to get started:
Review services you’ve used
This helps other families decide where they want to spend their time and money. Once you are registered, it’s easy to leave reviews for other families to see. And you’ll be able to see other families’ reviews too, so you’ll feel more confident that you know what to expect when trying something new. Here’s how to register and leave a review.
Tell us what’s missing
And if you fill in the ‘can’t find what you’re looking for’ form, we’ll ask the thousands of families in our direct network, and the tens of thousands across our partnership to help you find it. We’ll put out calls on Facebook and on Twitter, and where we are working in your local authority or with your Local Forum, we’ll get in touch with them too. Here’s how to search and tell us what you can’t find.
We’re your service, so if you want to help us in any way – great! And if you’ve got some ideas about how we could do better, please get in touch at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org