Special United - Youth Area (Young People's Forum)

Reading Families Forum

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Special United is a youth forum for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their siblings, age 8-25 years, living within the Reading Borough.

The youth forum is run by Reading Families Forum, a local charity supporting families who have children and young adults with SEND.

Special United youth forum gives young people with SEND a platform to have their say on the services that are provided for them locally.

We meet on a regular basis and have speakers in to listen young people with SEND about what matters to them. The young people feedback their thoughts, ideas and opinions so this will help to mould and shape existing and future services.

As well as serious discussions we also have a lot of fun too! We get to meet new friends, share a takeaway, and as a thank you for their participation every young person receives a £10 Amazon voucher. During Covid, we are meeting on Zoom every month and post young people’s vouchers to them

The Family Information Service/SEND Local Offer attend and support all the sessions organised by Special United, feedback from the young people is important in the development of the Local Offer.  

Page reviewed - April 2023

Next review date April 2024

What Young People Said, What We Did - 2017

'You Said'

'We Did'

Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked if Concessionery Travel pass was going to stop

We checked with Concessionary Travel department and they said it would be continuing

Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You aksed about Short Break holidays

We told you about Dimensions, who are offering Short Breaks to Reading clients 
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about seeing information on Parks on the Reading Services Guide/Local Offer We created a record and linked it to information on all parks and outdoor recreation areas in Reading
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about a Choir Club We found a singing club at Reading Mencap and created a record
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about us having information on 'Days Out' We created a new section under Special Needs Activities for 'Days Out'
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about Supported Holidays We said there is already a section on Supported Holidays
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about having information on 'Useful Contact Numbers' We created an advice & guidance page of contact numbers for young people and added it to the 'Special United' section
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about Courses and choices for young people aged 16+ We said that we already have a transition section 16+ on the Local Offer - Disc 16+ Newsletter (handed hard copies out to those attending)
Sprinkles Event - May 2017 - You asked about Scouts and Swimming We said we already have that information on the Local Offer
Fernandos Event - November 2017 - You asked if there were horse riding options available for children with SEND We currently have three horse riding stables that can cater for children & young people with additional needs. Information shared with the group.
Fernandos Event - November 2017 - Reading Children's CommissioningTeam asked the young people what activities they like to do? clubs etc. The young people fed back the things they like to do, which included horse riding, foot ball, day out at the sea side, with overnight stay, and many more suggestions. This provided the commissioning team an insight in to what the young people would like.
What Young People Said, What We Did- 2018
You Said We Did
Sprinkles - Event - March 2018 - You asked if there are any arts and crafts group. We currently have five services that offers arts & crafts. We will be reviewing this and researching to see if there are any other local groups, that can offer arts & crafts to children & young people with additional needs.
Smokey's House Event - July 2018 - You asked, Young people also want to know what next – what will happen after college and after a supported internship. Will there be funding? Will there be apprenticeships and support? Will there be help to do more GCSEs?  SEND Local Offer (FIS) staff sent links to the information listed on the Local Offer to the parents of the young people who requested it. 
Smokey's House Event - July 2018 - You asked, young person was happy at school but wanted to do football after school

SEND Local Offer (FIS) staff sent the young person parent details of football clubs, suitable for a young person with additional needs. Parents were very pleased with the information sent and will be contacting the clubs to find out more and book places.

Pizza Event - The Avenue School - November 2018 - Social Workers from Adults attended to inform young people about transition, what to expect, who would be looking after them, the process etc.

Assistant head from Brookfields also attended the event, talk about work experience, find a job, exploring options etc

Young people attending wanted to find out options.

Young people were encourged to explore options, they were signposted to the SEND Local Offer to look at what's available. Encourged to speak to organisation that can offer guidance. If young people wanted tailored informaiton on services, they can contact FIS/SEND Local Offer. 

What Young People Said, What We Did - 2019

You Said

We Did

Chicken & Chips - The Avenue - January 2019 - Twenty one young people and ten parent carers took part in the event. Dan Rook from Reading Football Community Trust came with Kingsley!  Dan Cubbage from Reading Sport and Leisure and Gill Seagrove talked to the group about the Local Offer.

  1. Special needs swimming groups and activities where queuing and competitiveness isn’t necessary. Tag rugby, fencing, football, basketball, swimming and snorkelling would all be popular (there is snorkelling equipment at the Meadway which hasn’t been used recently).
  2. Fun aqua parks would be good but there are no plans for the new Reading pools to have slides etc.
  3. Climbing would be popular – there is a private climbing centre in Whitley. The Dolphin Centre does accessible climbing and archery but these are short courses and are booked up months in advance.
  4. A changing place is a priority for us at the new Reading pools and at one or more leisure centres.
  5. More activities for 11 to 16 and 16 – 25 are needed that children with special needs can access. Dan Rook kindly offered to look at this with Reading Sports and Leisure.
  6. To maintain the wheelchair accessible play equipment at Palmer Park – a wheelchair swing would be great! The ground needs to be even to push a wheelchair over – no bark, gravel or sand, please!
  7. Fairs – such as Carter’s Steam Fair need to be accessible – eg with ramps up to rides.
  8. For activities to be put on the Local Offer for families to see what is available.

Both Dan Rook and Dan Cubbage, took away all the suggestion and request. We sent out information to families on the leisure options available. Information was also sent to the Short Breaks Panel to review.

Special United Pizza Evening on 26th February 2019 at the Avenue School - Kate Eggington, Associate Director of Nursing & Rebecca Curtayne, Healthwatch Reading Team Manager.

Young people liked the helpful staff at Dingley, A&E and the wards and the toys, TVs and Xbox! They had lots of fantastic ideas to make life easier for young people including signs with pictures, lanyards to alert staff to hidden needs or disabilities and getting nurses away from their computers so they can look directly at young people!

Kate will use the ideas to write her strategy for the hospital and promised to come back to show Special United the strategy and maybe help design those lanyards!

Special United Chinese Evening on 26th April 2019 at the Avenue School - Charlotte, Youth Co Ordinator attended from RVA, taking about youth projects, and wanted feedback from young people. Young people were really interested in fencing, computer clubs, trampolining, climbing and horse riding. All this information is on the Reading SEND Local Offer. 

FIS/SEND Local Offer sent all activities mentioned to the parent carers of the young people attending. The list was also sent to SU/RFF to cascade to parent carers. Click to view the list.

Special United Mr Cod Evening on 19th September 2019 at the Avenue School - feedback from a young person attending the event 'Most young people knew who they could contact at school if they needed to. However, most felt that this person was not available when needed.'

The SEN Team are now offering the following to parent carers and young people.

Brighter Futures for Children is committed to supporting families to participate as fully as possible in decision-making. To help them do this, the SEND Team hold a weekly information session that parents or young people can book a slot to speak with a SEND Case Officer. This is an opportunity to ask questions about SEND, understand the EHC Needs Assessment process and learn about how outcomes are key to Brighter Futures for Children’s assessment process.

Beginning on Friday 11 October, the sessions are held every Friday between 10am and 12 pm in 20 minute slots at Reading Civic Centre and must be booked in advance.  Sessions take place with a Case Officer and are personal, so not held in a group.

A session will be offered to every family where a EHC Needs Assessment has been requested for a child. The sessions are also open to any parent or young person who is considering requesting an assessment.

Special United Pizza Evening on 12th November 2019 at the Avenue School - feedback from young people - Young people would like more accessible clubs such as football, days at local leisure centres trying out the activities, visiting farms or stroking pets and Airsoft

While not respite, the Local Offer team advised that Coral Reef in Bracknell are trialling special needs sessions – details to come in the December Local Offer newsletter. You can also use Max cards at Red Kangaroo. Information on all of the above was included and sent out in the winter SEND Local Offer newsletter.

Special United Pizza Evening on 12th November 2019 at the Avenue School -  Comment from young people about the SEND Local Offer. Young people were asked if they have heard of the Local Offer and if they used it to access information on services, activities, support etc. 

Everyone had heard of the Local Offer but had not necessarily used the website. Some schools like Bishopswood advise families of what is on the Local Offer and others get the Local Offer newsletters and emails.

Family Information Service/SEND Local Offer will continue to promote and raise awareness of the Local Offer in Reading, and continue to offer other means of accessing information about service through the newsletter, regular email updates, attending events and outreach sessions, and working with key partners in the community.

New Me2 Club in Reading.

For many years parent carers and young people have been asking for a club like Me2 to be available in Reading. The club was available in our neigbouring borough Wokingham and is very popular with young people. 

(December 2019)

Parent carers and young people have been asking for the Me2 Club for many years, and through the hard work of RFF and BFfC bidding for the project to expand in to Reading, our children and young people can now take advance of this fabulous project.

Link to the record on the Local Offer, where you can find out more about Me2 - http://servicesguide.reading.gov.uk/kb5/reading/directory/service.page?id=E0hgCZUGA4I

What Young People Said, What We Did - 2020

You Said 

We Did

Special United Subway Evening on 21st January 2020 at the Avenue School

Fourteen young people and eight parent carers attended a talk with Claire Lewis, Service Manager for the Children and Young People’s Disability Service, Helena Baptista, Manager of Pinecroft and Cressingham and Maryam Makki, Manager of the Local Offer team, to talk about short breaks and social care. 

1. Young people wanted a range of clubs such as horse riding, woodcraft, music, axe throwing (plastic!), fencing, computer coding, air hockey, football, basketball, sky diving, climbing, and table tennis. Some also want to just stay in bed while their parent/carer takes a break. FIS/Local Offer staff will make a list of what is already available such as computer coding and send to the Families’ Forum.

2. Young people wanted an explanation about 'what is a short break' this was discussed in detail, and suggestion made that the young people would come up with a strapline. 

3. Short Breaks information on the Local Offer. There were some parent carers who did not know about short break, or about the Local Offer mailing list, which is used to keep parent carer informed about events, activities, courses etc. One young person suggested all schools should get every parent to register to receive information from FIS/SEND Local Offer. 

1. Created a shortlist of activities listed on the Local Offer and sent to Reading Families Forum, who will share with the young people and their families who attended the session. Click to view


Next time a competition to come up with a strap line to go under Short Breaks to say what it does!!!

3. Families who were currently not on the mailing list were sent the Local Offer email address to register (meet GDPR). FIS also sent a request through to school SENCO's asking them to inform parent carers about the Local Offer mailing list, so that they have the option to register. 


Special United Dominoes Evening on 5th March 2020 at the Avenue School 

Young people fed back that they wanted a strapline to explain what a short break was? Reading Families Forum who run Special United set a competition for all the young people attending, and their siblings to come up with a strapline, that best explains 'what is a short break'.


There was a draw between “Stressbite” and “Relax to the Max”. We held a final vote to choose between the two – it was very close but “Relax to the Max” won by one vote.

Special United (Virtual Event) Reading Families Forum (on the request from young people) organised a vitual SU event 'Life in Lockdown' - Thursday 14th May 2020. 

Young people who joined in the event wanted more information on local and national organisations providing support for emotional wellbeing. 

Young people also wanted a copy of the SEND Local Offer - COVID-19 update newsletter, and the #coping with newsletter produced by the NHS (CCG)

All the information requeted by the young people attending the session was sent to the Special United, Coordinator who will share with the families and young people. 

See blog under downloads

Special United (Virtual Event) Reading Families Forum organised a vitual SU event - Wednesday 19th August 2020.

Due to the lockdown and services starting to open up gradually CYP wanted to know which swimming and bowling groups/organisations were open, and accessible for them.

(August 2020)

All the information on swimming and bowling are on the SEND Local Offer, with dedicated filters so parent carers and young people can easily filter the information they need. However, to make it easier for parent carers and young people, we created dedicated information, so the families can easily read and access the services currently open. Feedback from parent carers was that the information was very useful, and many have accessed swim sessions and attended bowling. 


Special United (Virtual Event) Reading Families Forum organised a vitual SU event - Monday 28th September 2020

Young people told us that the current SEND Local Offer logo needs updating. The image is not clear about what is the Local Offer. 

(September 2020)

(October 2020 results posted)

Brighter Futures for Children - designed x3 options. Parent carers, children and young people and professionals working with families in Reading all voted on the x3 options. 

The winning logo was option 2! Results can be viewed here.

Special United (Virtual Event) Reading Families Forum organised a vitual SU event - Thursday 12th November 2020

At the last SU get together in November I was asked to find out what was happening with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and NVQ options.

(November 2020)


FIS/SEND Local Offer researched the information for the young people. The information was sent to Special United and Reading Families Forum - this information was also uploaded to the

Special United page - https://search3.openobjects.com/mediamanager/reading/enterprise/files/su_actions_from_november_chat.pdf

What Young People Said, What We Did - 2021

You Said 

We Did

Special United Event - May 2021

Young people attending the event requested information on activities for May half term, including short breaks. The young people really liked what was on offer at May half term, and would like more of the same in the summer. 

One young person contacted FIS/SEND Local Offer after the event to request information for himself. FIS/SEND Local Offer attending the sessions gave him the confidence to contact us directly. 

(May 2021)

We passed on this feedback to the Short Breaks Coordinator, who has been doing some excellent work in capturing feedback from parent carers and young people to help plan for the summer holiday.

Special United event - June 2021

Young people attending wanted information on activities and events for young people with autism. 

(June 2021)

A Shortlist of activities from the SEND Local Offer created and sent to the Special United coordinator to share with the children and young people attending. 

Shortlist http://servicesguide.reading.gov.uk/kb5/reading/directory/shortlist.page?action=LOOKUP&id=x-msNj47Tpg

 Reading Mencap ME (Mencap Enables) Day Activity Service | Reading Services Guide (openobjects.com)

Jelly Family Arts Club @ Broad Street Mall | Reading Services Guide (openobjects.com)

What Young People Said, What We Did - 2022

You Said 

We Did

Special United Event - May 2022

Young people attending the event requested information on activities for May half term, including short breaks. The young people really liked what was on offer at May half term, and would like more of the same in the summer. 

Young people also wanted information on support service for mental healt, including Young Mind and Kooth.

(May 2022)

We passed on this feedback to the Short Breaks Coordinator, so that the team can factor in the requests for the summer holiday short breaks. 

FIS/SEND Local Offer sent all the information requested by the young people to the special united coordinator. This information was shared with the parent carers and young people.

See information in downloads or click here

Special United - December 2022

Young people told us that they really found the mental health support information we created last year during the Christmas holidays really helpful and useful, and requested we did the same this year. 

(December 2022)

FIS/SEND Local Offer took this feedback and created a dedicated page with links, apps and useful information on support available throughout the holiday.

What Young People Said, What We Did - 2023

You Said

Young people at the January event told us that they wanted more information on 16+ services and support. They also told us that they really liked the short breaks that have been provided by BFfC, and would like more activities during the longer holiday. 

(January 2023)

We Did

SEND Local Offer reviewed the information we currently have on the transition section, the transition guide is being updated and reviewed, and we are looking to expand the information during March - May 2023, this will be co-produced with Reading Families Forum

Young people told us they wanted more images on landing pages and advice pages that related to the topic.

(August 2023)

We have started to add topic related images to pages, that are most visited and will aim to get an image on all the pages.

Related Advice

Reading Families' Forum (RFF) Local Offer Feedback & Consultations
Back to section overview
Back to section overview

  1. Special United Youth Forum - November Event 2023
  2. Special United Youth Forum - October Event 2023
  3. Special United Event June 2023
  4. Special United Youth Forum May Event 2023
  5. Special United Youth Forum April Event 2023
  6. Special United January 2023 Event
  7. No5 & Special United - Hub Focus Group Notes - December 2022
  8. Special United December 2022 Event
  9. Special United Youth Forum - October 2022 Event
  10. Special United Youth Forum - September Event 2022
  11. Special United Event July 2022
  12. Special United Youth Forum May Event 2022
  13. Information requested by SU during the May 2022 session.
  14. Special United Zoom Event February 2022
  15. Special United Zoom Event January 2022
  16. Special United Youth Forum - Zoom Meeting December 2021
  17. Special United Youth Forum - Zoom Event September 2021
  18. Special United Youth Forum - July Event 2021
  19. CYP Introduction to IASS
  20. CYP SEND Support Information
  21. CYP EHC Plan Information
  22. Special United Youth Forum - June Event
  23. Special United Zoom Event April 2021
  24. Special United Youth Forum Zoom Event February 2021
  25. Special United Zoom Event January 2021
  26. Special United Zoom Event December 2020
  27. Special United Actions from November Zoom Event
  28. Special United Youth Forum - Zoom Event - November 2020
  29. Special United Youth Forum - Zoom Event September 2020
  30. Swimming and Bowling Activities August 2020
  31. Special United Zoom Event August 2020
  32. Special United Zoom Event July 2020
  33. Special United Zoom Event June 2020
  34. Special United Zoom Meeting - Life in Lockdown May 2020
  35. Special United Youth Forum - Dominoes Evening - March 2020
  36. Youth Action Team - Focus Event - Part of the Special United Forum - March 2020
  37. Sport/Activities in and around Reading February 2020
  38. Special United Youth Forum - Subway Evening - January 2020
  39. Special United Youth Forum - Pizza Evening November 2019
  40. Special United Youth Forum - Mr Cod Evening 19th September 2019
  41. Special United Youth Forum - McDonalds Event Thursday 13th June 2019
  42. Sport Activities in and around Reading June 2019
  43. Special United Youth Forum - Chinese Takeaway Event April 2019
  44. Special United Youth Forum - Pizza Evening February 2019
  45. Special United Youth Forum - Chicken & Chips Evening January 2019
  46. Special United Youth Forum - Pizza Evening November 2018
  47. Special United Youth Forum - Smokey's House Event - July 2018
  48. Special United Youth Forum - Sprinkles 2 Event March 2018
  49. Special United Newsletter December 2017
  50. Special United Youth Forum - Fernando's Event November 2017
  51. Special United Youth Forum - Pizza Evening September 2017
  52. Special United Youth Forum- Sprinkles Event May 2017
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Contact the Team

Family Information Service

fis@reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

SEND Local Offer

localoffer@reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

Adult & Carers Support

CSAAdvice.Signposting@reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3747 0118 937 3747
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