Blogs - from Local SEND Services

Parent carers requested local service providers write blogs about thier organisations or services they offer, so that parent carers have a better understanding about the support available, how to access it, and make referrals.

Page created - March 2021

Updated - November 2022

Reading Information, Advice & Support Service for SEND

Reading IASS for SEND blog for local offer

What do we do?

Reading Information Advice and Support Service for SEND (known as Reading IASS) offers free confidential and impartial (unbiased) information, advice and support to

  • Parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-25 who have or may have special educational needs or a disability
  • Children and young people themselves

We can talk to you about education, health and social care.

How can you get in contact with us?

You do not have to fill in any forms before contacting us and we do not have a waiting list. We aim to reply to your message or email within two working days. There are lots of different ways to get in touch:

During term time, we have helpline hours – Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9.30am to 2.30pm. This is the time when we check and respond to messages most often, but we do check at least once on other weekdays. During school holidays the service is open, but we are not so busy. In the holidays we do not have fixed helpline hours and we have one person checking and responding to messages.

How do we provide information, advice and support?

  • By phone (we can text or WhatsApp too)
  • By email
  • By video call (if you have a smartphone and an email address)
  • Face to face (not available currently)

This might involve

  • Helping you talk through things that are worrying you
  • Helping you with certain forms and paperwork
  • Talking to people on your behalf and/or supporting you in a meeting

What we do not do

  • Give advice around benefits (although we can tell you about other organisations that do this)
  • Make decisions for you – we give you information to help you to make your choices
  • Support people who live outside the area covered by Reading Borough Council – each area has its own service.

How many people are in the service?

  • There are four of us. Lesley Chamberlain is the Team Manager and there is Sarah Bamford, Helen Mansfield and Antonia Murtagh (Toni). If you would like to know a bit more about the person you are talking to and to see a picture of them, please visit our website and scroll down to Meet the Team.
  • We also have a small number of trained volunteers, who can support in meetings.

Information provided - March 2021

Mental Health Support Team (MHST) BFfC

In these unprecedented times, taking steps to support our mental health is important for us all. 

Brighter Futures for Children will be running a 6 week campaign to promote steps we can all take to promote positive mental health, please like and follow the BFfC page on social media for information and updates. 

There are many services available in Reading to support mental health (e.g. Kooth online counselling for young people, Qwell online counselling for adults, Primary Mental Health Workers, School Nurses, Number 5, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services/CAMHS, time to talk and your local GP, amongst others). 

The  Mental Health Support Team (MHST) is part of a national trailblazing project and currently accessible to pupils on roll at 16 schools in West Reading (i.e. Blessed Hugh Faringdon, Prospect, The Wren, Cranbury College, Battle, Churchend, English Martyrs, Manor, Meadow Park, Moorlands, Oxford Road, Park Lane, Ranikhet, St Michaels, Southcote and Wilson). 

The MHST supports children and young people with emerging, mild or moderate mental health difficulties that may be affecting day to day life.  For primary aged children the service usually works with parents and for secondary aged, directly with young people.  The service welcomes referrals directly from parents and young people aged 16+. To find out more about MHST and to make a referral, please see the website:

Mental health support - Brighter Futures For Children

Information Provided - March 2021 



Autism Berkshire

Autism Berkshire is the county’s leading specialist autism advice and support charity, with more than 30 years’ experience of helping autistic children, young people and adults, and their families.

We provide the Berkshire West Autism & ADHD Support Service, in partnership with Parenting Special Children and the Berkshire West NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, to advise families of autistic children and young people aged 5 to 25 while they are waiting for autism and ADHD assessments and post-diagnosis.

The service offers a Helpline service, Home Visits, autism advice workshops and courses for parents and carers, with social skills groups and courses for autistic children and young people.

Our specialist Benefits Service helps autistic people and their families about initial applications for benefits and appeals.

Autism Berkshire also runs leisure and social activities for children and adults, including a Games Club and Lego Club for children, trampolining sessions for children and young people, and the 197 Club social group for autistic adults in Reading.

Full details about our services are available on our website at and we have Facebook and Twitter pages on social media, which are regularly updated.

We aim to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours and are happy to provide support by phone, by email and by video call.

Workshops and courses are taking place online during the coronavirus pandemic. Face-to-face workshops, courses and advice appointments are suspended, due to official coronavirus guidance.

For advice about autism and leisure & social activities:

Call 01189 594 594 (option 1)


Fill in our contact form at

For benefits advice:

Call 01189 594 594 (option 2)


The key members of our team who provide advice and support services are our chief executive officer Jane Stanford-Beale, senior family support worker Julia Cox, family support worker Amanda Walker, benefits service manager Kevin Jackson and benefits caseworker Carrie Steers.

More information about them, other members of staff and the trustees who oversee the charity’s work can be found on our website.

(April 2021)

Reading Mencap

Reading Mencap has been helping children and adults with learning disabilities (LD) and their families in Reading for almost 60 years.  We aim to provide a range of quality, holistic services to meet all needs including the unique services offered by our Family Support Service.

The Family Support Service comprises 6 Family Advisers who offer outreach case work to help families with any issue they have around social care, benefits, housing, health, transition, or anything which acts as a barrier their them achieving a healthy and happy life.  We can meet in the family home or at our centre in Reading near the Royal Berks, or we can give support at meetings, appeals, tribunals, assessments or anywhere a family or individual with LD, needs support. Family Advisers are highly experienced experts in learning disability and all associated issues, who have worked continuously through the pandemic

Additionally, we run a range of clubs, day, evening, and weekend, which offer leisure opportunities for people with LD from the age of 18+.  All our clubs are user led and we aim to provide friendship and exciting activities, and all of the club users own choosing.  We have two Gateway Clubs on alternate Tuesday evenings, 18-30 and 30+, a monthly disco and karaoke, a Creative Arts Club on a Wednesday evening, a self-advocacy club, ‘Hear My voice’, which runs on a Monday day time at the Museum of English Rural Life and a Choir.  All of our clubs were closed during the pandemic and we provided an alternative service of activity packs delivered to service user’s homes.  We are now planning to reopen our clubs for later in May.  Watch our website for news.

We also run two Day Opportunity Services, running Monday to Friday with 15 places per day, from 9.30 to 4pm, one at our own building in Alexandra Road and one at St Pauls Church Hall in Whitley. The services offer on-site and off-site activities, we have our own minibus, from drama to cooking, yoga to singing or any activity that the members want to try. The Day Service is open again now, having been closed during the last lockdown.

For further details of what our services offer or how to join, ring our office 9.30 to 1.30 pm, Monday to Friday, (answerphone at other times), 0118 9662518 or contact us through our website,

(April 2021)


Short Breaks Coordinator - BFfC

 My name is Mark Hobson and I am working in a new post as the short breaks coordinator. My previous roles have involved working at learning disability day centres, residential homes, and the mental health team here in Reading. I have worked with children with Autism at various levels on the spectrum, including working with one individual on a 2-1 basis long term.

 In this current role as the short breaks coordinator, I am trying to fill the gaps that exist in our current provisions IE our higher needs, more complex young people. I am trying to offer a variety of activities both indoors and outdoors, to give our young people some choice of activities that they may be interested in.

Behind the scenes, I am looking at overnight short breaks that fall outside of what Cressingham can offer and some larger events that will be open to all our SEND children. These things take time, negotiation and are subject to some strict legislation. I have to ensure it meets the needs of our young people and at the same time provides value for money.

I am happy to speak to parents and our young people, please feel free to email with any suggestions or feedback on our service.   

I will try my best to incorporate any ideas or improvements to our service where possible and practical

Mark Hobson

Short Breaks Coordinator - Children's Disability Service,  Brighter Futures for Children

(May 2021)

Children’s Therapy Service (CYPIT) Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust

Introducing the Children’s Therapy Service (CYPIT)

Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust

We are a team of Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and therapy assistants.

Everybody’s needs are different and so therapy support will look different depending on the individual needs of you, your family and your child.  As a first step, why not take a look at our website where we have lots of tips for things you can do with your child:

About our therapy services (CYPIT) | Children Young People and Families Online Resource (

As well as the support offered by our therapy teams, there are lots of services and groups running in your local area. These are good sources of information and ideas to help you support you and your child, especially in the early years. These are likely to include your child’s nursery, local children’s centre or local library. Take a look at the Local Offer for your area for more information:

Special Educational Needs & Disabilities - Reading's Local Offer | Reading Services Guide

If you decide to contact us, we will start by asking you about the difficulties you/ your child is having, and how this impacts on them/on your daily life. We then work with you to agree practical next steps and decide together how to support you/your child. There are different ways to access our services. Please check out our website for further details or fill out our referral form which can be found here - - BHFT (

A bit about how we can help:

Occupational therapy

  • We aim to empower children and young people in their everyday activities to become as independent as possible and interact with others and the world around them.
  • The children who use our service find things like dressing, feeding, handwriting, socialising and play difficult. This could be due to a problem with their fine motor skills, co-ordination skills, perception skills and/or sensory processing (the ability to make sense of the world around them). We can provide advice, and recommendations for equipment such as splints, sensory strategies, adapted cutlery, writing aids, specialist seating and switches.


  • We can assess and treat children and young people who have difficulties that affect their movement and physical development. 
  • We will work with you to develop gross motor skills, and provide advice on postural needs, mobility (including walking) and specialist equipment such as seating, standing equipment, mobility aids and splints.

Speech and language therapy

  • We work with families and education settings to support the development of communication and speech. We can also help to support children to interact with others.
  • There are some specific conditions that might affect their communication such as stammering, or hearing impairment and we will be able to discuss with you the best way to support your child.
  • In some cases, speech and language therapists also help to support children experiencing eating and drinking difficulties.

(June 2021)

Reading School Nursing Team (BHFT)

Reading School Nursing Team

The school nursing team are here to support the health and well being of school-aged children and young people who attend state maintained schools, free schools and academy schools in Reading and their families. We also support children who are home educated.

We offer advice around topics such as healthy eating, bedwetting, emotional health, sleep, sexual health, asthma, epilepsy, severe allergic reactions to name but a few.

If you would like further advice or support please phone the team on 0118 9207514 or email

Alternatively we have a school nurse advice line which is there to support children, young people and families who live in West Berkshire, Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell. The support line is available Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm. Call us on 0300 365 0010.

And take a look at further information on the CYPF website Berkshire Healthcare Children, Young People and Families

June 2021

Page last reviewed: 02/12/2022

Contact the Team

Family Information Service 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

SEND Local Offer 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

Adult & Carers Support 0118 937 3747 0118 937 3747
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