Sunderland Support Guide

The Sunderland Support Guide
Information for parents/carers of disabled children and young people


This guide has been designed in order to assist parents/carers of disabled children and young people to easily find and access information, support or services that are available to them. Wherever appropriate, disabled children and young people should be able to use social and leisure activities and support services on the same basis as any other child in Sunderland. Sometimes disabled children and young people may need additional support and where ever possible, this is provided directly through the facility they wish to use, rather than through a separate assessment or using a more specialist service. It is often worth asking what help can be provided for your disabled child or young person. A number of disabled children and young people have more complex needs and require a range of specialist support to help them live at home with their families and participate in their local communities.

Network for disabled children

The benefits to families joining the Network include having a chance to contribute to the development of services, and receiving email notifications of events and other local information that may be of interest. By joining the Network, families help agencies to have a more complete picture of the needs of disabled children and young people in Sunderland, which helps planning services for the future.

More information is available from Life, Family &

Learning Tel: (0191) 5205553, Email:

Sunderland Carers Centre

The Carers’ Centre offers confidential information, advice and support to carers, including support at meetings with social workers, consultants, psychiatrists etc. The Centre also runs support groups (including ones specifically for parent carers of disabled children and young people) and courses on carer-related subjects, as well as organising social activities for carers, producing a monthly information sheet and a newsletter every two months. Carers can contact the Centre directly or can be referred by another agency with their permission. A leaflet entitled ‘Do you look after a family member who is ill, disabled or frail?’ outlines the service, while a comprehensive Information Pack with everything you need to know about services on offer is also available. For more information contact the Carers’ Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Southwick, Sunderland SR5 1SF. Telephone: 0191 549 3768, Fax: 0191 549 5094. Email: Alternatively visit their website

Sunderland, Washington & Coalfields Parent Carer Council

Sunderland, Washington and Coalfield Parent Carer Council are a group of parents and carers working together to create change, so all of their children and young people can learn, make friends, have a voice and be part of everyday community and school life. Parents, carers and grandparents of any child under the age of 18 who has any disability are very welcome to come to the meetings. For more information contact the Carers’ Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Southwick, Sunderland SR5 1SF. Tel: (0191) 5493768, Email:

Autism In Mind (AIM)

AIM supports parents, carers and families who have children in both mainstream and specialist provision with or without a diagnosis. They can attend school reviews with parents and liaise between parents and the professionals who are involved in their lives of their children. They can support parents through the process of statutory assessment and then help parents to ensure that the statement that their child receives will meet the needs of their child. The support offered includes helping families to fill in forms to claim Disability Living Allowance for their children. On-line or telephone support for parents is also offered. AIM have a certified provider of the Listening Programme and are now offering this programme to children who attend mainstream schools who cannot access it in a school setting. They are a member of the Sunderland local autism working group as well as being a member of the North East Autism Consortium. Sarah Johnson is an Advisory Group member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism. We meet every Wednesday and Friday 10am until 2pm during term time. People are invited to drop in at anytime during our two sessions. For more information contact Fullwell Community Resource Centre, Fullwell Road, SR6 9QW or to access support AIM can be contacted by calling 07557374206 or alternatively visit their website, Email:

Sunderland ADHD Support Group

The Sunderland ADHD Support Group provide help and support to parents and carers who have children with ADHD. They are a group of parents themselves and meet fortnightly on a Monday. For more information or for details of the next meeting contact 0191 519 2461 or email or Tel: (0191) 5550109

Contact a Family

Contact a Family is a national charity aimed at helping families who care for children and young people with any disability or special need. There is a regional office in the North East which offers a range of services including signposting to services and local/national support groups; providing information about specific conditions and producing a wide range of publications and fact sheets on a variety of issues affecting families including free regional newsletters and email bulletins which advertise details of local events and services, leisure opportunities and national news items. Nationally, Contact a Family also runs a Freephone Helpline offering advice on rights and entitlements and has recently launched the only country-wide advice service for Special Educational Needs (SEN) The SEN National Advice Service. This service will help families whose child may have special educational needs they will be able to provide advice and information on any aspect of their child’s education. Help is available through the helpline on 0808 808 3555 (open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.00pm), or post a query on Facebook or Twitter and a SEN adviser will get back to you. Alternatively, you can drop an email to For more information contact locally, please contact Contact a Family (North East), Dene Centre, Castle Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 1PH. Telephone: 0191 213 6300, Fax: 0191 213 6300 Email: / The national website can be found at: The local pages of this website can be found at:

Disability North

Disability North provides free, confidential and independent information on a wide range of disability issues to disabled and older people and anyone with an interest in disability. General information can be given by telephone, email or drop in to the centre. For more in-depth advice it may be necessary to arrange an appointment. The Disability North Service Team provides advice and guidance on benefits (from initial applications to appeals and tribunals), equipment and disability legislation. Appointments can be made to have demonstrations or assessments involving a large range of equipment and is highly recommended if people are considering purchasing equipment or adapting their home. Disability North also provides commercial service which include access audits and advice, disability equality and awareness training and the Direct Payments Payroll service.

For more information contact: Disability North, Dene Centre, Castle Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1PH. Telephone: 0191 284 0480, Fax: 0191 213 0910, Email: or visit the website:

NHS 111

Telephone: 111 (24 hour help line)

This is a 24 hour confidential helpline staffed by healthcare professionals including nurses, trained health advisors and dental advisors. They can offer advice on what to do if you are feeling ill, if you have health concerns for you and your family, and information about local health and social care services, self help and support organisations.

NHS Help Card

City Hospitals Sunderland (CHS) NHS Foundation Trust is the first trust in the country to pilot the NHS Help Card. The card has been developed to support people who feel they might need help or support. The free card features a blank panel in which people can write down any special requirements. The card can be shown to NHS staff when needed. The card can also be used by anyone who has problems communicating and includes a tick list of different languages on the reverse of the card for those who cannot speak English. For more information about the NHS Help Card contact: Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) at CHS on 0800 587 6513. Email

Youth Information

Youth Information are a friendly and accessible information resource which supports the needs of young people with any issues. Youth workers are available to offer information and signposting advice to young people between the ages of 13-19. For more information contact Telephone: 0191 567 0410 or visit the 1st Floor, City Library and Arts Centre, Fawcett Street, Sunderland SR1 1RE between 12pm 5pm. Email:

Mental Health Matters

This is an out-of-hours confidential emotional support and information service, provided by trained and experienced telephone helpline workers. You do not have to have a mental health problem to use this helpline. They provide information on many local and national services specific to mental health and other issues. People contact the helpline about many different issues such as bereavement, relationship problems, family problems, loneliness/isolation, stress and carer’s issues.

For more information contact Avalon House, St Catherines Court, Sunderland Enterprise Park, SR5 3XJ. Tel: (0191) 5163500, Email:

Sunderland Counselling Service

This service offers counselling and support to people who are experiencing emotional or mental distress as a result of many issues such as bereavement, loss, relationship difficulties, other life adjustment issues, stress, anxiety or depression. Specially trained practitioners provide individual counselling and group support. Counselling is also available for women who have been raped or sexually abused. There is also a palliative care service for people with life-limiting/life threatening illnesses and their family or carers.

The service can be contacted at: Sunderland Counselling Service, 36 West Sunniside, Sunderland, SR1 1BU. Telephone: 0191 514 7007. The counselling service for children and young people is part of Community CAMHS, details available under CAMHS section in this document.

Financial Help / Benefits

Many families with disabled children or young people are entitled to claim benefits. It is important to get good advice about which benefits to claim, and to get support in filling out the application forms. Ask for a complete benefits check to make sure you are not missing out on anything. Information and advice is available from a qualified Benefits Advisor.

Website at:


Benefit claim Line Jobcentre Plus 0800 055 6688 Text phone 0800 023 4888

Calls are free from a landline. Charges may apply when calling from a mobile, but Jobcentre Plus will arrange to ring you back if you ask.

Families already in receipt of benefits but who want further help need to contact the Benefits Enquiry line on 0845 608 8637.


Sunderland City Council support services: Welfare Rights Service

The Welfare Rights Service can provide specialist help and advice about:

  • benefits, including assisting with appeals and representation at tribunals, employment rights, including assisting with and representation at employment appeals, where an individual is unable to access support through Trade Union membership or membership of a Professional Association. Sunderland Welfare Rights Service will not be able to assist in employment matters regarding employees of Sunderland City Council
  • debts
  • referral/signposting to other advice providers who specialise in housing rights.

For further information contact: Sunderland Welfare Rights Service. Telephone: 0191 5205551 or email Further information is available on the website:

Housing and Council Tax Benefits

Housing Benefit is help towards rent. Council Tax Benefit is help towards Council Tax. You can claim these benefits if you are responsible for paying rent or Council Tax and you have a low income. The amount of benefit you are entitled to will depend on your household income and circumstances. We can:

  • give you an estimate
  • fill in a form for you
  • arrange a home visit in exceptional circumstances.

You can access our website at where you can make a claim on-line or download a claim form. You can also find out what you are entitled to by using the on-line benefits calculator. Alternatively, you can visit a Customer Service Centre for help and advice. You do not need to fill in our form if you have already applied for Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance (income-related) and have filled in a Housing and Council Tax Benefit format the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Getting more information

There are a number of leaflets which provide more details about the way Housing and Council Tax Benefit is worked out and paid. These leaflets can be viewed on the website at where they are also available to download. Leaflets are also available at any Customer Service Centre. Please contact the Customer Contact Centre on 0191 520 5502 if you require a copy in large print, Braille, audio and other languages.

Apply online at, for all other enquiries please telephone 0191 520 5502 Monday to Friday 8amto 6.30pm. E-mail:

National financial support – Family Fund

This organisation gives financial help to families with a severely disabled child or young person, related to the child’s care needs, for instance:

  • holidays or leisure activities so everyone can have a break
  • a washing machine or tumble drier because of constant bedwetting or dirty clothes
  • bedding and clothing to cover the expense of wear and tear because of the child’s disability
  • driving lessons for the child’s main carer if there is a car available.

The Fund can help if the child’s condition or disability is regarded as severe under its guidelines, and if a family’s income is within certain limits. Families with a disabled child or young person can make one application a year. Families can contact the Fund direct for an application form. An application form can be downloaded from the website: or requested in writing. The Family Fund, 4 Alpha Court, Monks Cross Drive, York YO32 9WN. Telephone: 01904 621115. Find us on Twitter or Facebook ‘familyfund’

Family Fund Extra

If you care for a disabled child or young person, Family Fund extra could make a difference to both you and your family. Become a member of Family Fund extra and you will benefit from receiving discounts on thousands of products and services from leading high street retailers and organisations. For more information visit the website:

Help with Health Costs

You may be entitled to help with health costs including prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests, glasses and contact lenses, necessary travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment, wigs and fabric support. More details about this can be found in leaflet HC11 available from the Health Literature Line on: 0845 850 1166. You may be entitled to help with necessary travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment for your child if you are on a low income, or if you receive one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Families Tax Credit
  • Disabled Person’s Tax Credit.

Families on a low income should apply by completing form HC1, available from a Benefits Office or from the hospital. You may be entitled to full or limited help with travel costs for yourself and your child. If you are entitled to help, you will be issued with either a HC2 (full help) or HC3 (limited help) certificate. The cost of travel can then be claimed back, by showing this certificate at the hospital at the time of the appointment, and explaining that you would like to claim back the cost of the journey. Families in receipt of the benefits/credits listed above should show proof of their entitlement, such as benefit or tax credit award notice at the hospital at the time of their appointment, and explain that they would like to claim back the cost of the journey. N.B. Families in receipt of the Tax Credits mentioned above need to have a total family income of less than £15,276 in order to quality for help with health costs.

For more information contact: 0300 330 1343

Community Transport Association

The Programme for Independent Travel Training (PITT) is an exciting travel training scheme that assists students of all ages to travel independently. This can be walking, cycling, by bus, light railway (tube/metro), train, tram, ferry or even aeroplane. Independent Travel Training programmes are offered for all students with a learning difficulty and/or disability who are studying in full-time education. These programmes help to prepare students to travel independently either on evenings, weekends or after they have completed their education. All of the training programmes are taught by fully trained and accredited staff who have undergone DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks. The programmes are flexible, considering each persons individual needs as well as the service provision in the area. A dedicated travel training area has been developed and learning resource aids including booklets, CD’s and DVD’s have been made available. For more information contact CTA 0845 1306195,

Bridge Card

Nexus in partnership with bus operators and the 5 local authorities in Tyne and Wear have introduced the Bridge Card to help anyone who may need additional support whilst travelling. If you have difficulty using public transport because of age, disability, illness, or you simply lack confidence, you can carry a Bridge Card. When you show the card to transport staff they will recognise that you may need extra help during your journey. You don’t have to register for the scheme you just have to carry a card. The Bridge Cards can be obtained from Nexus Travel Shops, day centres, libraries or local authorities. For more information Tel: (0191) 2020747, email:

Blue Badge Scheme

The Blue Badge Scheme provides a national arrangement of parking concessions for people with severe walking difficulties who travel either as drivers or passengers. The scheme also applies to registered blind people. It allows badge holders to park near their destination. Badges need renewing every three years. You can get a badge on behalf of your child or young person if they are over two years old and:

  • they receive higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • they are registered blind
  • they have a permanent and substantial disability which means they are unable to walk or have considerable difficulty in walking. In this case you may need to answer some questions to help the local authority determine your eligibility.
  • If you are a parent of a child who is less than two years old, you may apply for a badge for your child if they have a specific medical condition which means that they either:
    • must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around without great difficulty
    • need to be kept near a vehicle at all times, so that they can, if necessary, be treated in the vehicle, or quickly driven to a place where they can be treated, such as a hospital.

Apply online for a new or to renew a Blue Badge, please telephone 0844 4630213. You will be asked to complete an application over the telephone, therefore it is important to have any information which may be relevant to your application to hand. If you do not live in the Sunderland area you must apply to the local authority responsible for your area.

Nexus Taxi Card

TaxiCard offers convenient and affordable transport from some people with restricted mobility. TaxiCard is a smartcard which is the same size as a credit card which you will use to pay for part of your journeys by taxi. There are two opportunities to join the TaxiCard scheme March and September. You will pay up to £3 (or half your taxi fare if the fare is less than £6) using your TaxiCard. You will then need to pay the rest of the fare yourself. You will need to use one of the approved taxi and private hire operators that will be listed in the TaxiCard User Handbook that you will receive when you get your TaxiCard. You will automatically qualify for the scheme if you receive any of the following:

  • High Rate Mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance
  • Higher Rate Attendance Allowance
  • Are registered severely visually impaired or blind.

You will need to complete a TaxiCard application form which is available by calling: Nexus TaxiCard team on: 0191 20 20 747, or by emailing: or writing to: TaxiCard Administration, Nexus, Nexus House, St James’ Boulevard, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AX. Further information can be obtained from the Nexus website at:

Concessionary Travel Pass

If you are disabled, live in Tyne and Wear and have a Concessionary Travel Pass, you can travel on buses in Tyne and Wear for free. To qualify for a Concessionary Travel Pass, your child has to be initially assessed by Children’s Services. If your child is eligible for a Concessionary Pass you will be given a Confirmation of Eligibility form to allow you to obtain, via post, a pass from the Concessionary Travel Bureau at Nexus’ Head Office. To find out about eligibility criteria and what documentation you will need to bring with you, contact the Children’s Disability Service on (0191) 566 2190.

For more information contact your Concessionary Travel Bureau at Nexus on: 0191 2020747, pick up a leaflet at any Nexus Travelshop or visit the website at:

Please note: Metro journeys are not covered by the Concessionary Travel Pass. For metro journeys you would need to purchase an annual metro Gold Card which costs £25 per year if you live in Tyne and Wear.

Careers and Employment

Jobcentre Plus offers a number of programmes and services to help Jobseekers, unemployed people, particularly long-term unemployed people, people with disabilities and others who may need extra help in finding work.

If you are a carer and are considering a return to work, even if it’s only on a part time basis, Jobcentre Plus can now offer a much wider range of help and support. Experienced advisers can provide assistance with jobsearch, identify training opportunities, offer advice on benefits and provide a “Better Off Calculation” to see how much better off you could be by taking a job. In some cases Jobcentre Plus could even pay for replacement care whilst you take part in an approved training activity. If you would like to know more about the support available, please contact your local Jobcentre Plus on 0845 604 3719.

Cinema Exhibitors Association card

The CEA card is a national card that can be used to verify that the holder (your child) is entitled to one free ticket for a person accompanying them to the cinema. To apply for the card, your child would need to be in receipt of disability living allowance (DLA) and/or be registered blind. The card costs £6 inc postage and is valid for 1 year. For more information visit the website, or telephone 02392248545.

General information

There are a lot of venues across the region allow free access to a carer accompanying a disabled child or young person. Usually you would simply need to take along some proof of disability, for example a letter showing DLA entitlement. It is always worth asking.


The following services are offered in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus:

Benefits Enquiry Line

A confidential telephone service for people with disabilities, their representatives and carers. Use this number to obtain all claim forms. Open 8.30am-6.30pm Monday to Friday.

Telephone: 0800 882 200

Textphone: 0800 243 355

Disability Living Allowance Helpline Advice regarding Disability Living Allowance claims. Open 7.30am-6.30pm Monday-Friday.

Telephone: 0345 7123456

Textphone: 0345 7224433

Carer’s Allowance Unit

Offers advice and updates on Carer’s Allowance claims and payments. Open 8.30am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.00am-5.30pm Friday.

Telephone: 0345 6084321

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is a means tested allowance for parents and carers of children or young people who are still in full time education. Open 8am-8pm Mon-Fri and 8am-4pm Sat. Telephone: 0345 300 3900

Textphone: 0345 300 3909

Vaccine Damage Payment

Offers advice and updates on Vaccine Damage Payment claims and payments. Open 8.30am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am-4.30pm Friday.

Telephone: 01772 89 99 44

Textphone: 0845 604 5312

Contact a Family helpline 0808 808 3555

Citizen’s Advice Sunderland 0191 416 6848

Easington & District Citizen’s Advice Bureau 0191 586 2639

Monday 10am-3pm, Tuesday & Friday 10am-1pm, Thursday 10am-12noon.

SHARP 0191 385 6687

Covers Shiney Row, Houghton and Copt Hill areas.

Sunderland Advice Service 0191 5142930

Do not operate a drop in service appointments must be made first.

Outreach Welfare Rights Project 0191 514 2930

Covers the Ford, Pallion and Pennywell areas.

Disability Alliance Rights Advice Line 0207 2508181

Libra Network

Libra is a network of local advice providers that work together to ensure you receive advice from the provider(s) best placed to help you. The Libra website holds details about all of the local advice providers involved:,

Universal Services

Sunderland Children’s Centres

Sunderland Children’s Centres help to give children in the city the best possible start in life. They offer activities for children and parents and help and support with the practical issues in bringing up a family. At Children’s Centres you can find out all you need to know about young children. Centres provide:

  • play and learning activities for you and your child to enjoy together
  • the chance to meet other parents
  • help and support in times of difficulty
  • courses, training and volunteering opportunities
  • affordable childcare (from 8am-6pm)
  • support to young families in preparation for parenthood after birth
  • antenatal classes, advice on breastfeeding and stopping smoking
  • family information and advice (e.g. childcare, weaning and routines).

There are currently 17 Children’s Centres in Sunderland. They can provide support and help for disabled children and children with special educational needs as well as more specialist services such as Early Support and Portage as appropriate. More details of these services are available in the Specialist Services section.

If you would like more information or to find your nearest centre please ask your Health Visitor or contact the Families Information Service on 0191 520 5553 or visit

Toy libraries

Through Toy libraries you can borrow toys, books, games and equipment for children up to the age of 14 years. Toy Libraries also sell a variety of arts and crafts materials. Toy Libraries give your child the chance to play and interact with other children while you get to spend quality time with your child in a fun and friendly environment. To join your local Toy Library or to find out opening times please contact your local Children’s Centre.

Supported childcare

Support is available for families of disabled children up to 3 years old to access childcare for up to 12 weeks.

Short term childcare

Short term childcare is available for children aged 0-3. The children and families would have additional needs and the childcare would be to support crisis e.g. bereavement, hospitalisation or appointments etc for up to 6 weeks. For more information or to find out what support might be available to you, please contact your Health Visitor or the Children’s Services Childcare Development Lead, Hetton Centre, Welfare Road, Hetton le Hole DH5 9NE Telephone: 0191 561 5638 or Email:

Early Intervention and Locality Services

Early Intervention and Locality Services offers a range of support to help children with additional needs to access childcare. Support includes funding for specialist equipment, additional staff and training. For more information contact the Childcare Development Lead ,Hetton Centre, Welfare Road, Hetton le Hole, DH5 9NE. Telephone: 0191 520 5553.

Sunderland Youth Development Group

Sunderland Youth Development Group works with voluntary sector providers across Sunderland to provide and facilitate informal educational opportunities, which enable young people from the ages of 13 to 25 to maximise their potential; to respond critically and creatively to their everyday experiences and to contribute to the cultural and political life of the city. There are currently 6 youth clubs and one 19-25 group operating which directly supports young people with learning difficulties and disabilities. There is an open referral system and forms are available from the address below. For more information please contact the Social Inclusion Co-ordinator, Sunderland Awards Centre, 270 Hylton Road, Sunderland SR4 7XJ. Telephone: 0191 561 7414


Connexions Sunderland provide confidential information, advice and guidance for all 13-19 year olds, up to age 25 for young people with special needs, on a wide range of lifestyle issues including education, training, careers, employment and personal development opportunities. For more information please contact Connexions, Library 1st Floor, Fawcett Street, Sunderland, SR1 1RE or Tel: (0191) 5617333

Moving Forward

Moving Forward is an introduction to ‘Transition Planning’ for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and gives information about the process, what happens when and what the options are. For more information visit the Connexions website at Connexions, Library 1st Floor, Fawcett Street, Sunderland, SR1 1RE or Tel: (0191) 5617333

Emergency Planning for parents/carers of disabled children and young people

This is a service that offers parent carers the opportunity of developing a plan which would provide cover when the carer experiences an emergency that stops them from being able to carry out their caring role. This would be a short term solution which would be until the emergency was over or a longer term solution could be arranged. Any parent carer or person with responsibilities for a child or young person aged 0-18 who has a physical disability, learning disability or long-term illness can have an emergency plan. The plan can be completed by yourself or you can ask for help from any professional who supports you or from Sunderland Carers Centre. The completed plan will need to be shared with people named in the plan. If the family have a Social Worker they may also agree for the plan to be saved on the Children’s Services electronic system for reference. For more information contact the Sunderland Carers Centre on 0191 549 3768.

Young Carer’s Card Scheme

A young carer is a person aged between 4 and 18 who helps to look after someone in the family at home because they are disabled, have been ill for a long time, have a mental health problem or a problem with alcohol or drugs. They may care alone or as part of a family.

Frequently young carers may be late for school, unable to attend detention at short notice, or may need to keep their mobile phone switched on. At secondary school, young people come across lots of different teachers and it can be frustrating for them to have to keep repeating why they are late etc.

The young carer’s card scheme is a partnership between Children’s Services and Sunderland Carers’ Centre and aims to make school life a little easier for young carers. Young carers can carry the card with them at school and show the card to teachers when they are having problems.

The card is issued for a fixed time period and is authorised by the Headteacher. Information leaflets (which include an application form) are available within schools or by contacting Sunderland Carers’ Centre on 0191 549 3768.

Parent Partnership Service

Parent Partnership can signpost parents to appropriate education services. Support can be offered to families with a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) including:

  • supporting parents of children with SEN in understanding the SEN Code of Practice
  • offering information on schools, SEN agencies, national and local support groups
  • supporting families through the special needs process

For more information, parents can contact the Parent Partnership Co-ordinator, Sandhill Centre, Grindon Lane, Sunderland SR3 4EN. Telephone: 0191 561 5643.

The Attendance Team

The Attendance Team is responsible for supporting pupils and schools specifically with matters relating to school attendance and elective home education. The Attendance Team undertakes work with parents of statutory school age pupils where unauthorised absence is identified; including where appropriate, those who are attending mainstream school and approaching statutory but are not yet of statutory school age (i.e. Reception pupils). The Team’s additional statutory duties include monitoring children in employment and licensed entertainment and the enforcement of relevant legislation. For more information contact the Attendance Team, Sandhill Centre, Grindon Lane, Sunderland SR3 4EN. Telephone: 0191 5615601,

General Paediatric Services

A team of consultant paediatricians and children’s nurses provides secondary health care for children and young people. There are two children’s wards and also a High Dependency Unit for children and young people who are very ill and need specialist nursing care. Children and young people are usually referred by the GP, either for an outpatient appointment, or for inpatient care when the child is acutely unwell. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (previously known as the Special Care Baby Unit) cares for babies born prematurely or who become ill at birth or in early life. The Paediatric Accident and Emergency department assesses and treats children and young people with injuries. Children and young people who are unwell should be seen first by the GP, but may then be sent for a second opinion to the paediatric team at the hospital. For more information contact the Paediatric & Neonatal Departments, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kayll Road, Sunderland SR4 7TP. Telephone: 0191 5656256.

Health Visiting Service

The Health Visiting Service is made up of a team which includes health visitors, community staff nurses and nursery nurses. They work with families from before the child’s birth until they transfer to the school nursing service. Health visitors are experienced registered nurses who undergo advanced training and mainly work with children and families. They work closely with social care, education and other health care professionals. Their aim is to improve the health and well being of individuals and communities, by helping people to improve their own health. The service is available to everyone. Staff nurses are registered nurses who work with individuals and groups towards healthier and safer lifestyles. Nursery nurses are skilled in child care and development and work with families and groups under the direction of the health visitor. For further information please visit the Sunderland Teaching Primary Care 6Trust‘s website at:

There is a Specialist Health Practitioner for Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs. See the Specialist Services section for more details.

School Nursing Service

The School Nursing service is provided to all children or young people from 4-18 years. The service includes:

  • regular health needs assessment of the school age population
  • school health screening and assessment
  • health protection programmes such as immunisations and vaccination against infectious diseases
  • health promotion sessions to children, young people families and teachers
  • supporting vulnerable children and families
  • providing drop-in sessions for children and young people in school for any health issues
  • advice and support for any child who develops health or learning problems
  • advice and support in relation to healthy diet and lifestyle, emotional well being, sexual health, substance misuse, bedwetting and bladder and bowel problems.

If you would like to talk to your school nurse you can obtain contact details from your individual school.


Soundwaves is a service that creates audio for visually impaired people. These include a monthly magazine consisting of what’s on, short stories and lots of nostalgia, a weekly recording of readings taken from the local newspapers, and a monthly magazine consisting of readings taken from the Sunderland Football Echo. For more information contact Julie Donaldson on Telephone 0191 555 6514 or email or visit

Specialist Services

Sensory Support Team

The Sensory Support Team based within Health, Housing and Adult Services provide a range of rehabilitation re-ablement support services to adults who have a visual or hearing impairment. Following an examination by a Consultant Ophthalmologist, an individual may become included on the Registers in either the categories “Sight Impaired Partially Sighted” or “Severely Sight Impaired Blind”. The Sensory Support Team has a responsibility for maintaining these registers and such registration will result in the offer of support.

The Sensory Support Team is available to offer support and assistance to parents, carers of children with either a visual or hearing impairment

Families can get more information by contacting the Sensory Support Team,

Reablement Services, Independent Living Centre, Claymere Road, Leechmere Industrial Estate, Sunderland, SR2 9TS Telephone: 0191 520 5552

 Children’s Sensory Team

The Children’s Sensory Team work with children and young people from birth until the time they leave school. The team work with children and young people in their homes, nurseries and schools giving advice to parents and staff of the child’s difficulties, encouraging development and how best to include the child in the education system. Children can only be referred to the team if they attend the Audiology or Ear, Nose and Throat department for hearing difficulties and/or a hospital orthoptic clinic for visual difficulties. Written permission is needed from the child’s parents before a child is seen.

For more information contact the Children’s Sensory Team, c/o Sunningdale School, Shaftoe Road, Sunderland SR3 4HA. For enquiries involving children with visual difficulties Telephone: 0191 553 5701, Fax: 0191 553 5705.For enquiries involving children with hearing difficulties; Telephone: 0191 553 5701, Fax: (0191) 553 5705. Typetalk: 18002 0191553 5961.

Early Support

Early Support is a Government led initiative that supports the development of effective, well co-ordinated multi-agency support services for disabled children and their families. This enables families to be partners and to have a say in how services are delivered. Families of young children who live within the Sunderland area can ask any professional involved with their child if they wish to have a Family Service Plan/ Team around the Child meeting. At the meeting a support plan will be developed which will outline the professionals who can help to meet the family’s needs. Early Support also produced a range of parent information materials, including information about certain conditions as well as information about education, social care and health. The materials are free of charge and are available from family Health Visitors or can be downloaded directly from the Department of Education website:  For more information please see your Health Visitor or contact the Specialist Health Visitor for Children and Young People with Additional Needs, Houghton Health Centre, Church Street, Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 4DN. Telephone: 0191 502 5700.

Portage Service

Portage is a home visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional needs and their families. The aim of Portage is to support the development of a young child’s play, communication and relationships in day-to-day life. The Portage home visitors come from a wide range of professional backgrounds including teachers and nursery nurses and are based in a variety of community settings including Sunningdale School, Children’s Centres and Health Centres. Any parent or professional working with the family can make a referral via a CAF (Common Assessment Framework). All referrals are discussed by the multi-agency Portage Panel, which meets monthly. For more information contact Sunningdale School, Shaftoe Road, Sunderland SR3 4HA. Telephone: 0191 553 5716, Fax: 0191 553 5882.

Language and Learning Team

The Language & Learning Partnership is based at and managed by Sunningdale School. It includes The Language and Learning Specialist Support Team and Speech and Language Therapy Complex Language and Learning Team. The purpose of the Partnership is to provide an effective and efficient service, city wide, for pupils with language and learning difficulties that will impact on future achievements and standards for pupils. Staff will provide advice and support for staff for individual children or INSET for staff groups. Referrals for support for individual pupils should be made by schools through a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) and include the additional ISRP sheet. Requests for INSET should be made direct to the Team. Language & Learning Team is based at Sunningdale School, Shaftoe Road, Sunderland SR3 4HA. Telephone: 0191 553 5972, Fax: 0191 553 5705.

Support to access childcare

Funding is available to support disabled children and children with additional needs aged 0-18 years to access mainstream childcare. Funding includes bursary funding to provide additional staffing, training, provide duplicate specialist equipment for use in childcare provision or transport. For more details contact Children’s Services Childcare Development Lead, Hetton Centre, Welfare Road, Hetton le Hole, DH5 9NE. Telephone 0191 561 6629

 Commissioned childcare

This is free childcare for families assessed as meeting the criteria. It provides childcare and transition support for children aged 0-3 years who are subject of a child protection plan or have an active Social Work case. The places are long term until the child accesses nursery education. For more details or to discuss a referral contact your Health Visitor or other professional involved with your family.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Accessibility Team

The SEN and Accessibility Team carries out the SEN (Special Educational Needs) statutory functions of the local authority. The team:

  • delivers the council’s statutory responsibilities for SEN (Special Educational Needs) in relation to the statutory guidance contained in the SEN Code of Practice and SEN Regulations 2001 and 2006
  • manages and administers the statutory assessment of children & young people with SEN
  • arrange placement and provision for pupils, with appropriate resources, in line with their Statements of SEN
  • co-ordinate annual review of statements of SEN with schools and make amendments to statements as appropriate following a review
  • manages the process of parental appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs & Disability) and represent the Local Authority at appeal hearings
  • delivers safe, efficient and effective home to school transport for eligible pupils and administer the process for issuing free travel to school passes
  • promote and increase accessibility cross the city in accordance with Equality Act 2010 ensuring all schools are supported and are aware of their statutory responsibilities
  • provides information, advice and guidance to parents, carers and schools and other key partners on the full range of statutory SEN processes and legislation

For further information on SEN and Accessibility please contact SEN & Accessibility Team on 0191 5205553 or Email:

For further information on Home to School Transport telephone 0191 561 2284 or Email

The SEN & Accessibility Team are based at Sunderland Customer Service Centre, Bunny Hill, Hylton Lane, Sunderland, SR5 4BW.

Educational Psychology Service

Educational Psychologists are graduate psychologists with additional postgraduate training. Many are also trained and experienced teachers who have worked in schools. They advise the Local Authority on children and young people with special and additional educational needs and other vulnerabilities. For children and young people undergoing a Formal Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Needs (SEN), an Educational Psychologist will provide an in depth assessment and set of recommendations. When a child or young person has a Statement of SEN and a revision or amendment of the Statement is required by the SEN Unit, an Educational Psychologist will provide further assessment and advice. When an education nursery or school has agreed to purchase services from the Local Authority, Educational Psychologists from the Sunderland Service help and advise schools and parents/carers on programmes, strategies and resources to support pupils with a wide range of needs. Requests for Educational Psychology involvement require the consent of the parent or carer and can be made by the nursery or school or any agency involved with the child. Requests can be made either directly to the Service or through the Locality CAF Panel. Other than the work relating to Formal Statutory Assessment of Statement Review, Educational Psychology involvement requires the agreement by the nursery or school to purchase the service. For further information contact Educational Psychology via email:

Direct requests can be made to Educational Psychology Support, Admin and PA Support Team, Commercial & Corporate Services Directorate, Room 3.71, Third Floor, Civic Centre, Burdon Road, Sunderland SR2 7DN Telephone 0191 561 2225 CAF requests can be made to CAF Business Support, Admin and PA Support Team, Commercial & Corporate Services Directorate, Room 3.71, Third Floor, Civic Centre, Burdon Road, Sunderland SR2 7DN Telephone 0191 561 2225

Specialist Support Team for children with Physical/Medical Needs

The Specialist Support Team will accept referrals from all agencies involved in the education and care of children and young people with physical or medical needs where their diagnosed condition significantly affects their functioning and ability to carry out physical or learning tasks independently. Most referrals are now received via Common Assessment Framework (CAF), Paediatrician, Speech and Language Therapist or Physiotherapist. Nurseries and schools should initially contact the team via email or telephone to discuss any child or young person who they feel may benefit from the team’s intervention. Parents should discuss referral. For further information contact Specialist Support Team, Oxclose Community School, Dilston Close, Oxclose, Washington NE38 0LN. Telephone: 0191 419 5127.

Autism Outreach Team

The Autism Outreach Team (AOT) is a multi disciplinary team based at Columbia Grange School, comprising of professionals from education, health and social care. These professionals include specialist support teachers, educational psychologist, speech and language therapists, and paediatricians. The AOT supports pupils attending mainstream provisions with a diagnosis or possible diagnosis of ASD, by the delivery of quality outreach services and training in the field of ASD, so that wherever possible, pupils can successfully attend their local mainstream school. The AOT offers: assessment of pupils needs; involvement in the diagnostic process; advice on strategies; individual pupil targets; Code of Practice Reviews; consultation with parents/carers; consultation with staff in schools; consultation with multi agency professionals; group work; transition work; training for professionals and parents. For more information contact Autism Outreach Team, Columbia Grange School, Oxclose Road, Washington NE38 7NY. Telephone: 0191 219 3860.

Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS)

EMTAS provides support to schools with minority ethnic and traveller pupils. The service operates by teaching the English language to pupils new to English (EAL) and giving advice and help to their families. It monitors attainment and suggest strategies for improving pupils’ attainment where necessary. It also provides guidance, resources and training to staff in schools and the non-statutory and voluntary sectors on a wide range of EAL, travelling and cultural issues. Outreach tuition is provided by way of distance learning packs and internet connection to support travelling families. The Traveller Education Support Service is part of Sunderland Virtual School. It aims to support the needs of traveller children and their schools in promoting inclusion, participation and improvement in attainment in their school. Continuity and progression involves targeted learning support and the provision of education packages for pupils when travelling. For more information about Ethnic Minority Support you can contact the relevant advisor:

  • Primary Advisor Rasheda Khatun, Telephone 07557893775
  • Secondary Advisor Ann Harris, Telephone 07557893777

For more information about Traveller Education Support contact Dawn Shearsmith, Headteacher, Sunderland Virtual School, Telephone 0191 553 5776 or Email

Home & Hospital Tuition Team

All children and young people with medical needs should have their educational needs identified quickly and receive the appropriate support they require as soon as possible. Provision will be flexible and sensitive to the changing needs of pupils. The primary aim of the Home and Hospital Team practice is to minimise, as far as possible, the interruption and disruption to a child’s education caused by their medical condition and continue to have access to as much education as their medical condition allows so that they are able to maintain the continuity of their education. This policy covers all pupils whose home is in Sunderland who are of compulsory school age, on the roll of a Local Authority maintained school and are unable to attend school for more than 15 days due to medical illness or in hospital for more than 5 days. For further information contact the Home and Hospital Tuition Service, Tel: 0191 5535712/0191 5535770

The Neurodisability Team

This consultant-led specialist team manages children and young people with a range of established and potential disabilities, usually referred on from consultants, GPs, other doctors, health visitors or therapists. Children and young people may be seen in a range of settings including children’s outpatient department, special school clinic, on the children’s wards and sometimes at home. The service offers diagnostic assessment, support and ongoing management, linking closely with others in health, education, children’s services and voluntary agencies as appropriate to the individual’s needs. Specialist palliative care is offered for children and young people with life limiting conditions. For more information contact: Paediatric Department, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kayll Road, Sunderland SR4 7TP. Telephone: 0191 565 6256 extension 42486.

Specialist Health Practitioner for Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs

The Specialist Health Practitioner for Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs works with children from 0-19 years. She is an experienced Health Visitor who has specialist knowledge about children’s health and development, disability issues, Early Support, and local services. She uses specialist knowledge and skills to help children, young people and those involved in their care to enable them to achieve their maximum potential. For more information contact Houghton Health Centre, Church Street, Houghton le Spring, DH4 4DN. Telephone: 0191 5842154. Email:

Community Children’s Nursing Team

This is a team of specialist children’s community nurses and nursery nurses, specialising in the areas of endocrinology, the care of children with complex medical needs, diabetes, epilepsy, gastroenterology and cystic fibrosis. They assess the needs and develop programmes of care to facilitate and co-ordinate effective home care management for children/young people and their families. They also offer home support, education and training for parents around care, and carry out school visits. Referrals to the Team are made by a hospital consultant. They can be contacted at Niall Quinn Children’s Centre, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kayll Road, Sunderland SR4 7TP. Telephone: 0191 565 6256 extension 41236.

Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) including Early Years Mental Service and Community CAMHS Counselling

The Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Community CAMHS) is a preventative and early intervention mental health service for children and young people aged from birth up to their eighteenth birthday, and their families, provided by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. It is a multidisciplinary service and includes staff from nursing, teaching, counselling and other therapeutic backgrounds. It offers short term intervention to individuals, families and groups who are affected by mild to moderate mental health difficulties. It is located in a number of community bases throughout Sunderland and Washington, has three main locality teams, as well as workers based within Maplewood School. It also has a small team of early years workers who focus on the birth to 5 age range and are located within each Children’s Centre cluster area throughout the city. The service is accessed via the CAF (Common Assessment Framework) referral system through health practitioners, social workers, voluntary sector services and also by schools. The service is also accessed via referrals from General Practitioners (GPs). They also offer training, consultation and support to other children and young people service workers to enable them to have a positive impact on the mental health of the children and young people they work with. For further information please see the website at Tel:0191 5141622 / 0191 5100654

The South of Tyne and Wear Children and Young People’s Service

The Children and Young People’s Service provides a single service to all children and young people aged 0-18 years living in Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside who present with mental health difficulties. This includes children and young people who may have learning difficulties and those living in a range of difficult and challenging circumstances. The service is able to provide:

  • Assessment, diagnosis and intervention on a range of mental health difficulties
  • Intensive response and home-based treatment for those children and young people whose mental health is causing significant concern
  • An intensive Eating Disorder Service to support children and young people on the eating disorder pathway who are at risk of an inpatient admission
  • a comprehensive transition support package to those young people who are approaching their 18th birthday and may need continuing support as adults
  • 24 hour access to support via a single point of access
  • training, consultation, support and advice to front line staff working in targeted services for children and young people in special circumstances

The service standard operating hours are from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and on weekends if required. There is an intensive crisis and home based treatment service that operated until 10pm and from 10am to 6pm on weekends and bank holidays, with access to clinical triage and an on call psychiatrist outside of these hours. The criteria for acceptance are:

  • the child or young person must be within the age range 0-18 years
  • they must either be presenting with some degree of psychological distress or mental health difficulty OR be a child in special circumstances whereby advice, consultation, support is being sought
  • they must have been seen by the referrer who will undertake an assessment of need prior to referral
  • they must have given informed consent to the referral being made
  • where there is an appropriate first level intervention this should have been attempted and the outcome included in the referral

Anyone wishing to have a discussion about a case prior to referral can contact the helpline for advice, information or support. Referrals will be accepted from any professional working with a child, young person or their family and self referrals can also be made. Referrals are accepted by letter, fax or telephone to Monkwearmouth Hospital, Newcastle Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR5 1NB. Telephone 0191 566 5500, Fax 0191 566 5534 or email


Physiotherapists provide assessment, advice and therapy to children aged 0-19 who have postural, movement, musculo-skeletal and co-ordination difficulties. on-going care and therapy is provided to promote development, function and activity. Children can be seen within the physiotherapy department at the Children’s Centre, in their home environment, at the Child Development Unit, Nursery Settings, or within either special or mainstream schools. Hydrotherapy can also be offered when appropriate. Physiotherapists can attend consultant, orthotic and wheelchair clinics. There is also close liaison with other health care professionals and external agencies involved in the care of the child. Children can be referred to the Paediatric Physiotherapy Service by either a consultant or their GP.

For more information contact: Physiotherapy Department, Children’s Centre, Durham Road, Sunderland SR3 4AF. Telephone: 0191 565 6256 extension 49123.

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and Language Therapy offer assessment for infants, children and young people referred who may have speech, language, communication and/or eating, drinking and swallowing needs. Difficulties may arise from disordered/severely delayed development of communication, language, speech, voice or fluency. Where input is needed we may work with a child and/or their parents, provide specific advice and support to nursery/school staff or other professionals to achieve agreed outcomes. We use a ‘Total Communication’ approach including Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). They aim to be child and family focused working in close liaison with other professionals and in multidisciplinary teams. They work in the community, nurseries, schools, homes and hospital. There is an open referral system and forms are available from the address below. However, medical involvement is recommended for eating/swallowing problems.

For more information contact: Speech and Language Therapy Department, Children’s Centre, Durham Road, Sunderland SR3 4AF. Telephone: 0191 569 9122 or 0191 565 6256 extension 49122.

Community Based Occupational Therapy and Wheelchair Service

Your child’s assessment might involve an occupational therapist or a wheelchair assessor in order to promote independence and assist with practical management of disability issues.

Occupational therapists may recommend the provision of specialist equipment for your child, or alternatively you may be supported to access grant funding in order to make structural alterations to the family home. The Occupational Therapy Service will work with the Home Improvement Agency and Community Equipment Services in order to do this. Wheelchair assessors may recommend the provision of equipment that enables mobility whilst also making sure that your child’s postural needs are cared for. Wheelchair assessors will work with a range of service providers, including Community Equipment Services and the Regional Rehabilitation Engineering Mobility Service in order to do this. The community based Occupational Therapy and Wheelchair Service is available through the Health, Housing and Adult Services Directorate and is based at the Independent Living Centre (ILC), Leechmere. Referrals for small items of equipment can be made directly to the ILC, all referrals for major equipment need to be made through Services for Disabled Children. For further information contact: Independent Living Centre, Claymere Road, Leechmere Industrial Estate, Sunderland SR2 9TS. Telephone: 0191 566 2102/22103 Email:

Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapy outpatient service provides assessment and advice regarding fine and gross motor skills, coordination, sensory processing, visual perception, independence and functioning in all areas of daily living. This may include assessment and recommendations for equipment and environmental alterations in the home or school. The Occupational Therapy Orthopaedic inpatient service includes assessment for equipment and minor alterations to facilitate hospital discharge. Children may be seen within the home or hospital environment. For more information contact: Occupational Therapy Department, Entrance 8, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kayll Road, Sunderland SR4 7TP. Telephone: 0191 565 6256 extension 42412.

Dietetic Services

The Paediatric Dietetic service provides assessment and advice for those children and young people with a variety of nutritional needs including those with feeding difficulties, overweight and obesity, food allergies, and gastro intestinal problems. Children and young people may be seen with their parents/carers on an individual basis or as part of a multidisciplinary clinic. The service is based at the hospital with appointments being offered in the Dietetic Out-Patient Department or the Niall Quinn Children’s Centre. The dietetic service accepts referrals from a child’s consultant or GP. For more information contact: Department for Nutrition and Dietetics, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kayll Road, Sunderland SR4 7TP. Telephone: 0191 569 9013.

Children’s Social Work Service

Children’s Social Work Teams support and provide services to children and young people, who are assessed to be in need, including children and young people whose level of disability does not meet the criteria for the Children’s Disability Service. They help children, young people, their families, carers and friends, by looking at their needs and planning services to support them in their own families in the community. Families can refer themselves or get more information about services by contacting the Initial Response Service at Cassaton House during office hours.

Initial Response Team, Cassaton House, 43-49 Fawcett Street, Sunderland SR1 1RR. Telephone: 0191 5205560, Fax: 0191 566 1501

Children’s Disability Service

The Children’s Disability Service only works with severely disabled children and young people up to the age of 18 who have:

  • a substantial physical disability
  • a severe communication difficulty (including Autistic Spectrum Disorder)
  • a severe learning disability.

If you think you need help from Services for Disabled Children you will be offered an assessment. Assessment is the word used to describe how we look at your child’s needs. This is an opportunity for you and your child to tell us about your circumstances and discuss your child’s needs, your needs as a young person or your needs as a carer. The aim is to reach an agreement about what help you need and how this can be provided so your family can live as ordinary a family life as possible. Services for Disabled Children work very closely with all other agencies. Families can refer themselves, or get more information about services, by contacting a Duty Social Worker at the Children’s Disability Service during office hours at: Sandhill Centre, Grindon Lane, Sunderland SR3 7DN. Telephone: 0191 566 2190, Fax: 0191 566 2191 Email:

Family Care & Support Services

Family Care & Support Services are a team of Quest, Family Care and Support and Leisure Link workers who undertake a wide range of tasks with children and young people and their families. This includes care tasks and support into leisure activities, either at home or in the community to enable the young people to engage in appropriate activities and for their families to have a break from caring. Support Services work in partnership with children and young people, their parents and or carers and with other professionals also working with them. Quest is a specialist service jointly funded by Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Sunderland Children’s Services. Quest works with children and young people with severe learning difficulties whose behaviour presents a severe challenge to families and services. Commissioning arrangements are also in place with a number of independent providers of support services where deemed appropriate. Families can refer themselves, or get more information about services, by contacting a Duty Social Worker at the Children’s Disability Service during office hours at: Sandhill Centre, Grindon Lane, Sunderland SR3 7DN. Telephone: 0191 566 2190, Fax: 0191 566 2191

Email: . Referrals can also be made through the CAF referral system.

Overnight Short Breaks Seaview

A purpose built short break facility in Grangetown provides overnight short breaks for up to 7 young disabled people aged 8 to 18 at the same time. This enables them to have regular overnight stays away from home and participate in a wide range of activities with their peers. There is a leaflet called ‘Sea View Road West, overnight Short Breaks Services for Disabled Children’ which gives more information. Family based overnight short break care is available through Services for Looked After Children. This is a flexible service which provides children with positive experiences as well as giving the family a well earned break from caring. Children are linked to a specific carer who would also work in partnership with the child’s parents. The foster carers are trained and supported in their role and receive a small allowance for the care of the child. Commissioning arrangements are also in place with independent providers of overnight short break services where appropriate. Tel: 0191 5532214

‘Futures’ a Person Centred Transitions Team

‘Futures’ is a Person Centred Transitions Team based within Health Housing and Adult Services but jointly funded with Children’s Services in Sunderland. The overall aim of Futures is to facilitate a smooth transition for young people into adulthood using person centred tools. ‘Futures’ involve and engage with the person throughout the process using creative communication techniques. This helps to gather evidence of what is really important to the individual and their family at a time of great change. Futures help people to create a comprehensive transition plan that takes into account 6 key areas including; education, employment, social activities, friendships and relationships, health and housing. Futures help a young person to create a circle of support that includes everyone who needs to be involved in an individual’s transition to make it successful and positive. The Futures team is made up of four facilitators, and two transitional healthcare co-ordinators. The inclusion of the healthcare co-ordinators in the team maintains health expertise and important links with professionals throughout transition. With facilitators dedicated to an individual and their family throughout their transition from the age of 14-25, the model is designed to provide the ongoing support that will help young people achieve a smooth transition into adulthood. Referrals for the Futures Team come from the Children’s Disability Service. For more information contact: Futures Team on 0191 5205555 or Email:

Complaints, compliments & comments

We welcome comments about the service we give because your views tell us a lot about the quality of what we do. Please tell us if you think we have done well, if you are unhappy and want to complain or if you just have a comment or suggestion. We listen to everything people say and take their comments seriously. Where we can, we use the information people give us to improve services. If you have a complaint or comment about the service please contact: Children’s Services Complaints & Feedback Team, by post: Freepost, Complaints and Feedback, Civic Centre, Burdon Road, Sunderland, SR2 7DN, by telephone: 0191 561 1296 N.B. Complaints about anything related to your child at school should be directed in the first instance to the school staff you usually deal with.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

PALS focuses on improving the service to NHS patients, by offering advice and support to patients, families and carers, providing information about NHS services, listening to concerns, suggestions or queries, and helping to sort out problems quickly on your behalf. PALS act independently when handling patient and family concerns, liaising with staff, managers and, where appropriate, relevant organisations to negotiate immediate or prompt solutions. PALS can be contacted Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm on 0191 5667074 or email

Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust

The first stage in making a complaint about a service you or your child have received is to talk to someone at the practice if you can. If you feel you cannot do this, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can follow the complaints procedure. You can find more information in a leaflet entitled ‘Making a complaint about a GP, dentist, pharmacist or optician’ available from Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust. Address: Pemberton House Colima Avenue, Sunderland SR5 3XB. Tel: 0191 5297000