Category Archives: News

Home Education and SEND – information morning

We know that some of our members choose to home educate their children and young people with special educational needs because that works best for them and for their families.  We also know that some others home educate because they feel they don’t have any other option, and many more have told us that they fear they may have to if they cannot find a school or college place that works for their child or young person.

We invited speakers to come and share their expertise and experiences in this area with our members: Karen Lynch from Cheshire East Information Advice & Support (CEIAS),  John Fowler (Elective Home Education for Cheshire East), Nikki (a parent who is home educating her son) and Steph – a young person with additional needs who was home educated.

Our panel of experts

Karen Lynch talked about what CEIAS can do to support parents and young people when their school or college placement isn’t working as they’d like – you can click here to see her presentation, and click here for more information on CEIAS including how to contact them

John Fowler shared some facts and pointed out some common misunderstandings about elective home education.

Nikki Greenford is a parent who home educates her son. They decided to try home education having exhausted all other options. They started with a very structured routine but now follow a more active and outdoor approach including conservation, volunteering and working towards his Duke of Edinburgh’s award. They go to activities put on by the National Trust, Cheshire East Countryside rangers and other organisations, which are usually shared through the Home Education Facebook group.

She explained that it is a unique journey for each individual family. There are some real downsides: there is no break, all responsibility is on you, so if you don’t do it it doesn’t get done, and it can have a real impact on financial and domestic arrangements; in Nikki’s case she has stopped work completely while her partner works away for 5 days a week.

it’s a big decision, but not one she regrets at all – her son is very happy and is thriving.

Steph is a young person who was home educated and is now at university. She spoke to our members about her experience of being home educated and how this has affected her. You can see Steph’s presentation here:
My home education journey My Home Education Journey.

We then opened the discussion for questions – you can see the Q&A here:
20181019 Home Q & A

Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum would like, once again, to thank all those who took part for sharing their experiences and expertise. If you have any questions that were not raised that you would like us to ask our panel, please email & we will pass it on.

Transport – TSS & CEC response

In September 2018 Cheshire East & Transport Service Solutions invited parent carers to a meeting to discuss the issues experienced with agreeing and communicating home to school / college transport arrangements for children and young people with SEND around the beginning of the academic year.

Following this meeting, they have asked us to share this response:


TSS & CEC PCF Meeting Response Sept 18 (Full transcript at the bottom of this page)

They also attended our November steering group meeting, and agreed to invite a parent representative to work with TSS & CEC to agree processes and to get clear information on the Live Well website that will state clearly:

  • timescales & process – how / when to apply, what will happen by when
  • who parents should contact with questions or concerns about the transport arrangements that have been proposed
  • one-page profiles: how parents and young people can flag their individual needs
  • what should be done if there is a change – how TSS will keep parents informed, as well as who parents need to notify of any changes and who to do that



This document details the main issues raised by PCF during the meeting with CEC & TSS representatives together with the responses and resulting actions.

Awareness of policy changes
The timing of reminder mailshots and texts was explained together with the detailed presentation given to PCF on 12 June. The main impact would have only been for post-16 pupils because of the transition arrangements agreed for existing pre-16 students in receipt of transport.

Is there a breach of regulations when the parental contribution means that parents are paying more
that if they had opted to use college bus services when available?
This had previously been reported at a PCF meeting and the transport officer is investigating how this can be rectified if it is an issue

Poor communications between CEC/SEND and TSS
The new process was explained but it was apparent that some improvement in information exchange was needed. This would be reviewed along with other processes introduced this year and any changes implemented as soon as possible so as not to impact on transport provision next year.

Poor communications between TSS/ CEC and parents including lack of information about operators and PAs
It was accepted that this needed to be improved with the ideal situation being transport arrangements being notified to parents by the end of July. Work will be undertaken to ensure adequate time is allowed for route planning to allow this to take place.

Phone calls not returned
This was accepted and had partly resulted from the increased volume of calls being received. In the case of TSS this was dealt with by introducing a call triage arrangements had been put in place by TSS when they became aware that this was an issue.
CEC and TSS will look to revise the TAAP process for post 16 applications including scheduling meeting dates in advance.

Last minute changes of operators and/or drivers
These are partly caused by last minute refusal of tenders by operators and delays in processing of request actions taken in. Pulling the whole process forward should alleviate some of these issues.

Journey times too long
Journeys are planned to be within the published guidance times where this is possible given the distance being travelled. In some cases generous journey times have been quoted initially to ensure punctual arrivals. These are usually reviewed within a few days once traffic conditions are assessed.

Stress caused to parents
This was agreed as totally unacceptable and an apology given

Planning needs to be done earlier (esp. Yr11)
This was agreed and CEC and TSS will be reviewing the timescales shortly with a revised plan for 2019/20 school year planning.

Why have some post-16 students been charged and some not when the circumstances are identical?This should not have happened and all cases will be cross-checked to ensure that the policy was applied correctly

Potential for using online reviews (both good & bad) as part of the tender judgement?
Negative and often anonymous reviews would not form a reliable basis for tendering judgements. However it was agreed that comments from parents could be logged and used to inform future tendering rounds

Why do contracts with the same operator not continue year on year thus giving stability
Where possible, contracts are awarded for the duration of an individual’s attendance at a particular school. However changes do sometimes need to be made when other pupils move or new children from similar areas come on stream and shared transport arrangements have to be reassessed. In some cases operators no longer wish to operate a contract so give notice to terminate and a new provider is needed.

How is medical training for PAs checked?
Our specialised transport officer is made aware when we are awarding a new contract for a child who needs a trained PA, if the PA has not already received training via us through a hospital we will contact the nurse for available dates. We keep a list of PA’s who have received the training. If a PA claims to have received the training but we don’t hold a record of this then we can check with our contact at the hospital to see if they have done the training.

Parents don’t know the best point of contact for a range of travel issues
It was agreed that this does need to be clarified. We will explore the possibility of producing a quick reference guide to be sent to each parent giving the correct contact points for different circumstances.

Concern about reporting safeguarding issues (e.g. driver slapping pupil)
This was accepted as a potentially serious issue. We will explore the possibility of establishing an online reporting system to ensure that full details are accurately recorded and acted upon quickly.

PCF Steering Group Meeting – October headlines

Headlines from the parent carer forum steering group 09/10/2018:

  • Cheshire East SEND team will be contacting all parents of children on EHC plans as part of their plan to improve the quality of EHCP s after the Ofsted review.
    They will also be asking external peer reviewers to assess the quality of plans in Cheshire east.
    Click here to see IPSEA’s guidance on what an EHCP should contain, and a link to their EHCP checklist
  • CEIAS are planning to review how they reach out to families or groups who don t access their service at the moment but need their support or advice.
  • The parent carer forum is still feeding back the on going difficulties with transport and requesting meeting times. 
  • The group also heard presentations about a new framework about preparing for adulthood that could be used to help everyone start thinking about this as early as possible
  • High Peak school – a residential school for children and young people with various Special educational needs that has accepted children referred by Cheshire East.

Family Fund

We have been contacted by Family Fund, who have asked us to share some information about what they do

Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Their grants help break down some of the many barriers faced by families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, and cover a variety of things that may be of benefit, such as household items, family breaks and specialist equipment.

Find out more at, call us on 01904 550055, email us at or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

To learn more about how our grants help families, read Amy’s Story below –

Case Study

Amy is 17 years old, and lives in Cheshire. She has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and has been awarded multiple grants from Family Fund since her mum’s initial application in 2004.

“We heard about Family Fund a long time ago now, when Amy was only small,” says her mum, Claire. “We used to take her to a place at the infirmary called the Mary Sheridan Centre, and one of the members of staff there mentioned it to us.”

“Amy has autism. She is non-verbal, and is still in nappies, which impacts various parts of our lives. Even though she is non-verbal, she understands everything that you tell her, and she is very intelligent. So we just have to make sure we are constantly telling her what we are doing.”

“She is going to college at the moment, which has been great for her, but she is still very routine-based. If anything unexpected happens, she doesn’t take it very well.”

“Over the years we have received several things from Family Fund. We have had a washer, a fridge-freezer… then more recently the iPad. I think the first thing I applied for was the washer dryer, which we needed because Amy needs a lot of changes of clothes during the day.”

“Another year I applied for bedding for Amy. That meant she could stay at my mum’s house and I could have a little break. I remember that being really helpful at the time.”

“We definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford any of the items ourselves. We have got limited family who we could have asked for help, and so we probably would have had to do it through loans or credit cards, which I obviously did not want to do because we would struggle to pay them back.”

“Family Fund has been an absolutely tremendous help with everything that we have had and been through. I am just so thankful that they exist.”

Cheshire East SEN Team – timescales & communications

A high number of parent members have told us that they have had problems getting in contact with the SEN team, and with the timescales of annual reviews.

We raised these issues with Tracey Beardmore-Evans, who is the SEND Service Manager for Cheshire East, and she asked us to share this statement:

“We regret to inform you that we are currently in a position where we have a backlog of annual review returns, for which we would like to apologise sincerely. This has occurred due to staff sickness. We are currently in the process of identifying a team of skilled and experienced plan writers to enable us to respond as quickly as possible

 “We are also dealing with a very high level of incoming work at this current point in time, and the issues around sickness are impacting our ability to offer the quick response and level of service that we aspire to provide. We have had an experienced member of the team move on to other opportunities recently and another two members of staff are due to move on in the next few months. We are taking immediate steps to try and limit the impact that this has but we would appreciate your patience and understanding whilst we appoint new team members”.

She also asked us to tell parents that if they were having any problems getting in touch with an individual members of staff, then they can call 01625 378042 or forward their emails to

Quick quiz! Live Well

Cheshire East have asked the Parent Carer Forum to ask our members for some feedback and suggestions on their Local Offer website.
The Local Offer is a Local Authority’s publication of all the provision “they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.” (Section 4.1 SEND Code of Practice, January 2015)

Transport – have your say

We are aware that many of our members have had a really bad experience with their child or young person’s SEND home to school / college transport this year.

We have spoken to Cheshire East & TSS to raise the issues, and ask them to confirm what the process should be, what has gone wrong and how they will make sure it doesn’t happen again next year.

Ian Donegani (Head of Service, SEND & Inclusion at Cheshire East) replied to say he would like to meet directly with parents to hear about the issues they have experienced, and would invite representative from TSS (Transport Solution Services) to also come along to listen and answer questions.

The first of these meetings is on Friday 21 September, at 10:30am in Sandbach: if you would like to attend please email or call 07794431768

We are hoping to hold more meetings so that as many people as possible can attend and have their voice heard – if you would be interested please email to let us know what areas / times of day you could attend.

If you cannot get to a meeting in person you can still have your say click here to open our quick quiz survey on SEND Transport to school / college

Summer Partnership Picnic – 21st June 2018 (Congleton)

Children & young people with SEND, and their families are invited to a summer picnic!

Come along for some after school / college fun – a picnic, some fun activities and the chance to have your say on how you would like to work with the local authority SEND team, social services and health services.

It’s at Congleton Town Hall on 21 June 2018, from 4.15pm – click here to book your place

Mental Health: presentations from our AGM

We were very lucky to welcome a great line up of speakers and stalls at our AGM on 8 May 2018

We have had requests from attendees for more information, as well as from members who couldn’t make it on the day, so we are pleased to share the slides and contact details

  • Carrying heartache: a presentation on being a parent carer, and how that experience gives a professional a different insight
    Chris Jaydeokar (co-Chair of CEPCF) Carrying sadness presentation slides
  • Cheshire East Council SEND transformations developments update
    Ian Donegani (Head of Service for SEND and Inclusion Cheshire East Council) SEND update presentation
  • Mental Health Pathways – developments in Cheshire East
    Graham Dyson: Mental Health Commissioning -NHS South Cheshire, Vale Royal CCG
    Shelley Brough Head of integrated commissioning
    Dave Ledbetter Head of Children’s commissioning
    Hayley Burnham Senior Contracts officer Cheshire East Council Commissioners presentation
    Matthew Howard Clinical Director CAMHS CAMHS slides
    Trish MacCormack General Manager Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

  • Presentation on autism
    Barney Payne CAMHS LD community Nurse CWP

  • Mindfulness workshop
    Dr Ceri Woodrow Clinical Psychologist CWP
    Adapted Mindfulness May 2018

SEND Youth Forum

If you know someone aged 11 – 25 who has SEND and would like to get involved in the services they use please pass this on. Next meeting will on Monday 30 April, and they will be looking at what issues are important to young people in the local area and making a plan of action.

(They are also looking to set up meetings in Macclesfield – we’ll let you know once we have more information)

Stay & Play (Stockport)

STAY AND PLAY SESSION – for parents and carers with a child between 6 months and four years with complex needs

Every Wednesday morning parents and carers come along to have a good time together while supporting their child’s learning through play.
Our activities can help improve the development of skills in communication, early exploration and movement, as well as increasing your child’s confidence and independence. Having time and space to play in this way gives children the chance to meet and have fun with others, getting involved in activities you can also try at home.
We know how demanding caring for your child with complex needs can be and Stay and Play is great for Parents and Carers too. Our friendly group is a chance to meet others, share experiences and build lasting friendships and support.
Seashell Trust Stay and Play is for babies and young children aged between 6 months and four years with a severe profound learning disability and: a significant visual impairment and / or visual processing problems and / or moderate to profound hearing loss or loss of auditory processing mechanisms

Stay and Play is completely FREE but we do ask that you contact us before attending your first session to book your place. Please call 0161 610 0741 or email

Ofsted & CQC SEND Inspection: Webinar for parents

All parents and carers of children or young people (age 0 – 25) who have any SEN (whether they have an EHCP or not) are invited to take part in a webinar with the Inspectors on Thursday 8 March, from 1.30 – 2.30 pm. 

Click this link to register to take part in this webinar


Several parents have contacted as they do not know what a webinar is or how it works, so we’d like to share some more information. 

What do I need to take part in the webinar?
You will need a computer, mobile or tablet so that you can get online and see the webinar

You will need to be able to hear the webinar. You can do this from your device, or alternatively, there is a phone number you can ring so you can hear it as a phone call.

You need to be available to take part for about half an hour from 1:30 pm on Thursday 8 March. As it is online, you can do it from wherever you are, just so long as you have internet access.

How do I get set up?
Click this link to register for the Cheshire East SEND Inspection Parents Webinar.
You will be asked for your email address, so they can send you the full instructions, including an email address so you can contact them to ask any questions you may have beforehand.

These instructions contain a link you can click that will check your laptop or device will work before the webinar starts. 

The instructions also include another link for you to click on on Thursday to take part.

What will happen during the webinar?

During the webinar, the inspectors can’t see us, but we’ll see the questions they ask (on your computer, smart phone or tablet) and hear these being asked.

We don’t need to speak, we just click our answer and type in our comments or questions.

All information gathered will be anonymised.

It is likely to last around half an hour only, so try to join in promptly

Cheshire East’s Post 16 Travel Policy Statement for 2018/19 consultation

Notice from Cheshire East Council:
We are writing to advise you that the consultation on the Post 16 Travel Policy Statement for 2018/19 is now open and will close at 5pm on Friday 6th April.

Following consideration of the updated guidance entitled Post-16 transport to education and training from the Department of Education dated October 2017, changes made to other Education Travel policies, and input from Post 16 providers at the workshop in November, the Post 16 Policy Statement has been updated for the academic year starting 1st September 2018.

The final version, once approved, will be published on the Council’s website by 31st May 2018.

The policy statement provides information for Cheshire East students and their parents about the travel assistance available to them when continuing in education or training beyond compulsory school age .  It relates to Post 16 learners who are

  • aged 16-18 years of age including those with special educational needs and disabilities
  • aged 19 years of age including those with special educational needs and disabilities who started a course before their 19th birthday and who continue to attend that course
  • Adults under 25 years of age, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, with or without an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) who wish to attend an educational course.

Please note that there are some key changes between the proposals for 2018/19 and the current travel provision and I would encourage you to read the Policy Statement and supporting information.

To access the consultation and supporting information:

Key Stage 4 (Year 10 and 11) and Key Stage 5 (sixth form) learners and their parents/carers are invited to participate in the consultation.

Volunteer opportunities: We need you!


What do PCF volunteers do?

It can be a regular commitment (as a parent representative working with the Local Authority on areas like SEN, social care or short breaks) or a one off short term project (as a parent representative looking at a particular project or task like assessing bids for commissioning or job applicants for key SEN roles), joining our steering group to help behind the scenes, or simply agreeing to read over documents with a parents-eye-view from the comfort of your sofa.


It is very rewarding – our volunteers have found it a good way to put their experience & expertise to good use, and to feel like we are making a difference in areas that matter so much to our families.

 We can’t pay you for your time, but we will cover any travel or childcare expenses

How do I know what to do…?

We offer some training and lots of support  – it has been a great way to get some skills and experience for cv while caring commitments might stop us taking on other employment, and it’s a good way to gain (or regain) a bit of confidence and use it!

We try to send parent representatives in pairs whenever possible (and always for your first few meetings!) so you have some back up and a chance to see what happens

What if I can’t make a commitment?

We are all parent carers ourselves, so we understand that our families are our priorities and there will be times when they have to we have to drop out.

Tell me more…..?

We’re holding an event for you to come along and find out more – no commitment! Click here for full info on the volunteer information lunch

If you can’t make it to the event that’s fine – just give us a call or email and we’ll catch up for a chat

CASCAIDr – The Centre for Adults’ Social Care – Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution

What is CASCAIDr?

CASCAIDr is a new national advice charity, providing specialist legal advice about everyone’s rights to have their needs for care and support decided lawfully, reasonably and fairly.

Click here to visit the CASCAIDr website

What does its name stand for?

The Centre for Adults’ Social Care – Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution

What is its aim?

To reinvigorate the rule of law within local government and that part of the NHS responsible for commissioning care and support packages for those with complex health needs.

We aim to empower and support people, their carers and practitioners to resolve disagreements about access to services – and, in doing so, ensure that those suffering disability or an impairment are not needlessly dragged into poverty or despair.


Why is it needed?

Whilst there is a growing understanding of the impact that austerity measures have had on social and health care provision, few are aware of the complexity of legal duties, powers and responsibilities owed to our most vulnerable members of society.

Most people only seek support or come to rely on social care services and funding in times of crisis.

Family members and carers, exhausted by providing dedicated care, rarely have the energy required to navigate referral processes or complaints procedures to secure fair processes and lawful packages of care.

As none of us can know our own future, we all need public sector decision-making to be properly governed by the law and sound legal principles.


What sort of problems will CASCAIDr be taking on?

Access to funded advocacy rights;  whether assessments are compliant with the law; whether councils are following the statutory Guidance; rights to funds for sufficient levels of care to avoid support needs escalating or sacrificing carers’ wellbeing; the legality of cuts to care plans.


How will CASCAIDr do this?

By providing free and outcome-focused advice and a checklist and a pre action protocol letter to individuals with problems that are within our ‘free scope’ list.

CASCAIDr will also provide chargeable but low-cost advice on a wider range of problems, to those needing support in relation to submitting complaints and accessing other remedies.


What has crowdfunding have to do with CASCAID’s strategy?

Where issues can’t be resolved through dialogue and a barrister has given a positive opinion on the merits of the case, CASCAIDr may support crowdfunding to secure legal challenges. This not only strengthens an individual’s position, but also supports widespread lawful decision-making by clarifying any areas of uncertainty in the current legal framework.

What sort of people will CASCAIDr help?

Individuals – service users, carers, relatives, brokers, advocates, appointees, attorneys, deputies. Charitable Organisations – providers of care and support, and advocacy organisations with charitable status…

What about non-charitable organisations? Can they get help from CASCAIDr too?

Non-charitable organisations and individuals seeking advice outside CASCAIDr’s charitable scope can source chargeable but affordable advice from CASCAIDr Trading Ltd. All profits of that company will directly fund the provision of free legal advice through the charity’s work.

What does CASCAIDr’s service include?

  • A telephone helpline – 4 days a week – for a booked half hour free ‘steer’ for people who are not sure if they’ve even got a legal problem
  • A referral form for people to fill in online
  • Volunteers to help people to express all the relevant detail of their predicament, if they are struggling
  • Expert advisers who will produce the checklist and letters that are the free output
  • Support and guidance for those who want to crowdfund to bring formal legal proceedings.

What can people expect?

CASCAIDr advisers will:

  • Analyse a situation for omissions to comply with the Care Act or public law principles
  • Give the client a checklist to take back to the council/CCG
  • Write a letter in the form of a pre-action protocol letter, setting out what’s not been done correctly
  • Seek advice on the client’s behalf, from a direct access barrister
  • Consider helping the client crowdfund so that council or CCG knows that the client can, if required, challenge unlawful decisions in Court.

Is there anything that CASCAIDr won’t do?

We won’t

…act as a gun for hire: we care about our credibility and we won’t put forward a case just because you’d like us to, or would pay us money to do so – we care about the coherence of the legal framework, and aspire to supporting the achievement of a sustainable social care system;

…take your matter on, if it’s not within our advisers’ expertise – on which our judgement must be respected as final;

…act for both sides to a dispute, unless specifically asked, by both sides, to mediate with regard to the legal strengths and weaknesses of the parties, based on an agreed statement of facts.


Does CASCAIDr offer training on the legal framework?

We’ll be offering affordable training, too, in the form of webinars and lectures for universities, charitable providers and advocacy organisations.

Any organisation that is not charitable will be able to purchase the same services from CASCAIDr TRADING Ltd, our trading subsidiary, albeit at a slightly higher rate – with all net profits going back to the Charity.

Both organisations will be run on a shoe-string – no employees, just self-employed advisers and volunteers. We will have some expenses, obviously, but aim to be one of the lowest cost advice charities around.

Where will all the money come from?

Members of the public, organisations such as care providers, housing associations and, large foundations interested in social justice.

All donations attract GiftAid or will be tax deductible for corporate bodies, because we are a registered charity.

We want “Collaborating with CASCAIDr, to uphold legal rights’ to be a badge of pride, one day, for sophisticated health and social care businesses!

Are there people who’ve already benefited from CASCAIDr’s support?

Yes. We already have the stories and some photos for this range of happy beneficiaries

  • service users who were told that they could only expect the cost of a service that no other reasonable authority could have thought of as suitable;


  • clients who have been able to win back services for their psychological and emotional wellbeing;


  • young people evicted from care homes simply because their relatives made complaints, restored to secure status and supported to move on, after proper planning;


  • carers who have been supported to pull back from levels of care that were killing them, once proper services were obtained for their loved one;


  • parents of severely disabled people, supported to fight cuts that had been suggested without any rational reason, other than austerity;


  • clients who’ve been denied CHCs,


  • businesses whose clients have been supported to dispute illicit top-ups


  • clients who’ve been helped to fight illicit charges levied outside the Care Act rules


  • a client helped to remain in his mother’s home because of having given up his own accommodation to help care for her


  • a man who was supported to explain why he would not be moving his mother from her care home, or paying any more top-ups, since the council’s documentation was not compliant with the legislation.


Ways to share in our journey:

Visit our website catch up on some of our early good news stories, where our advisers have already changed people’s lives, by use of legal principle.

Get on Social Media!

  • Twitter: @CASCAIDr – please follow us here
    • Mention/Tweet about @CASCAIDr – for hashtags we’re going to be using #socialcare, #CASCAIDr, #isitok, #carecrisis and #LovingLegalLiteracy
    • PLEASE re-tweet our fundraising ‘call to action’ Tweets 4-15 December
    • View or subscribe to our lists on @CASCAIDr
  • Facebook – CASCAIDr’s organisation page, click here to view
    • from that page, please like, comment on and share CASCAIDr posts …
  • LinkedIn – look up Belinda Schwehr and connect here
    • you may also like to join the special interest group Adult Social Care Legal Developments – click here to view

Want to volunteer? Click here

Want to advise? Click here

How to Donate –

  • Please, please DONATE ( charges only 15p for the card transaction, or 65p for a credit card…)
  • All individuals’ donations will ultimately attract GiftAid, when HMRC gives us a certificate!
  • We get 25% extra if you eventually complete our GiftAid declaration, so that’s massive!
  • If you’re a higher rate tax payer, and you give us £8, we’ll get £10 and you’ll get £2 back! So for £6 from you, we get £10! How great is that?
  • All corporate donations are tax deductible, as we are a registered charity.

Help us fundraise

  • You can set up your own fundraising sub-page on, if you’d enjoy doing ANYthing that will raise funds and awareness! You need to register in person on that link and then it will set you up with a sub-page, linked to CASCAIDr’s bank account. Tell us!
  • You could start a collection at your workplace or pass on this document link to interested colleagues.
  • You can send this Twitter Moment (here) on to contacts on WhatsApp, for free, once you’ve opened the link to the Moment on your phone.

Get in touch?

Telephone 01252 560 856 or email or

EHIPs & Short Breaks questions: response from Cheshire East Short Breaks Team

We have received the following response to our members’ questions from from Keith Martin and the Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Team.  We will contact all members with details once we hear about future briefing events.  

Remember, if you need to contact the team you can do so by calling 01625 378083 or sending an email to

Q: What is EHIPS?
Please can we have a description / definition – is it for the benefit cared for and / or carer? 

Early Help Individual Payments (EHIP’s) form part of the Local Authorities Short Break Support for Parent Carers of Disabled Children.  The second part of the Short Break Support is the commissioned services that provide activities and clubs.

An EHIP is an annual payment of up to £1,000 for parent carers of disabled children under the age of 18 to purchase support for themselves that would enable them to take a break from their caring responsibility.  The payment is for the parent carer, however the support that is purchased should be meaningful for their child.

Q: Who is eligible?
What criteria are applied – does it remain unchanged while CCiL are managing? If so please state clearly what current criteria are and what they will be from transfer

If a child is receiving High Rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA), either care and or mobility component or a young person aged 16 or 17 is receiving Personal Independence Payment  (PIP) either care and or mobility component then the parent carer is eligible for an EHIP’s.  We use DLA and PIP as our eligibility criteria as this is a way of us determining that the child has a disability without having to undergo an assessment.  Although we use Department of Works and Pensions (DLA and PIP) as our eligibility, EHIP’s are not part of the Benefit System, they are solely administered as part of our Short Breaks Local Offer

This will remain unchanged whilst the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) manage the EHIP’s process.  CCIL will cease to manage this contract from April 1st 2018, when EHIP’s will move to the New Short Breaks Team. 

We will continue to use this eligibility criteria after 1st April 2018, however we are going to expand the criteria as we are aware that recent changes in DLA and PIP has meant that some children and young people previously able to access them no longer can.  To ensure that these children and young people are able to access support we will also consider children and young people eligible for an EHIP if they could not access any of our commissioned support without an EHIP, for example a child who could only access one of our activity groups with 1:1 support.  This will be determined on a case by case basis for those children and young people not in receipt of DLA or PIP.

Q: What can it be spent on?
Please give a clear definition, including examples of what is and isn’t acceptable. 
Members have cited several instances where their claim seems to meet the description, but has not been allowed, leaving them out of pocket
This situation then leaves others fearful of spending the benefit as they cannot afford to risk being left out of pocket themselves

EHIPs can be spent on support that provides the parent carer with a break from their caring responsibility, whilst ensuring something meaningful for the child. 

Good examples of the use of EHIPs:

  •  Paying for a carer or personal assistant to take the child or young person out on an activity
  • Paying for a carer or personal assistant to accompany the family on a holiday
  • School holiday clubs
  • Membership to a sports club or gym for the child or young person
  • Fees for a youth club or other social clubs, that are not already part of our commissioned short break services
  • Specialist disability swimming lessons or trampoline clubs
  • Paying for your child or young person to attend a residential break

Q: Please share the guidelines referred to previously, that set out the requirement that parents have to be separate from their child / YP in order for it to constitute a short break for the parent

The national statutory guidance requires local authorities to provide short breaks that give parent carers a break from their caring responsibilities.  If for example a parent uses their EHIP to pay for a holiday in which they accompany their child, this does not constitute a short break, as the parent is there caring for the child.  If however the parent uses the EHIP to pay for a carer to accompany them on the holiday, who will take responsibility in whole or in part for caring for the child or young person, then this does constitute a short break.  The same might apply to buying a Merlin card for a carer to take the child out so a parent can have a break. The Short Breaks Team will be able to give families advice on how best they can use their EHIP’s

The statutory guidance that all local authorities have to work too is entitled ‘short breaks for carers of disabled children’ which we have included as a link below.  EHIPs constitutes part of Cheshire East’s short break ‘local offer’, this is the short breaks that are available to children, young people and their families without having to undergo an assessment of need, either through the National Assessment Framework for Children in Need and their Families or the Common Assessment Framework.

The Children Act 1989 (“the 1989 Act”) states that local authorities have a duty to provide, as part of the range of services they provide for families, breaks from caring for carers of disabled children to support them to continue to care for their children at home and to allow them to do so more effectively.

Q: What options are available for families whose children’s / YP’s needs are too complex for them to be go to activities without their primary carer?
Many parents have raised that they can no longer spend the money because of the requirement to be away from the child / yp – esp where there are attachment issues
Please can you share the alternative routes, including links to the charities mentioned by Cat, and direct payments

In terms of short break activities, this issue is about choice for parents and carers.  You should not be made to stay by our commissioned providers as by doing so you are not being given a break from you caring responsibilities.  If however you are given the choice to stay, for example to attend a parent coffee morning being run by the same provider and you decide for yourself that you would like to stay, that is fine.  Ultimately you must feel as parent carers that you have the ability to make a decision for yourself about whether you would like to stay or not. And not have the choice taken out of your hands.

If a child or young person is not able to access any activity independently or with a carer, therefore the parent carer is unable to receive a break from their caring responsibility, then EHIP’s is not the best way of supporting the child or young person.  In this situation we would be very happy to complete an assessment or to signpost families to providers outside of our short breaks local offer

Q: What reassurance can you offer to families whose previous experiences with Social Services has left them reluctant to try again?
Many parents have raised that they are not willing to go through the process of applying for SS assessments. They have experienced intrusive assessments (for example questioning them on their criminal background, drug / alcohol consumption, checking their standards of housekeeping, the child’s bedding, how safely the bleach is stored etc…) only to be told that as they are coping they do not qualify for any additional support. If this is no longer the experience then this is a great opportunity to explain what has changed & to reassure users.

These issues have been acknowledged by the authority and as a direct result of the feedback previously received from parent carers via the parent carers forum and others working with disabled children we have established a specialist children with disabilities social work team and the new short breaks team.  All members of both teams have experience of working with disabled children.  We have already received positive feedback from many parents and others across the wider disability network that this is improving assessment and service delivery.

We hope that these developments will reassure parent carers that we are committed to improving how we support disabled children and their families in line with our statutory responsibilities.

The lack of co-production at early stages of this process and ongoing lack of clarity in communications has led to a general feeling that the changes have not been made for the benefit of our members’ families, but to cut costs.  
A full communication would be an opportunity to publicly state that this is not the case and explain the benefits of the changes that have been made.

Representatives from the parent carers forum and individual parent / carers have been involved in seven engagement events over the last three years. This engagement has been enhanced by a parent / carers quick quiz, direct calls to recipients of EHIPs and through feedback via commissioned services. The development of a good short break support offer is a priority and the engagement with parent / carers has provided effective influence and direction to the redesigned offer.   Representatives from the parent carers forum are currently involved in the task and finish group that has been set up to ensure that the transition from our current contract with CCIL to the short breaks team is as seamless as possible.

It is regrettable that there is a general feeling that changes are not being made for the benefit of carers and I can categorically state that all the work that has been completed over the past many months has been with an aim to improve services, not as a cost cutting exercise.  The local authority’s legal duties around short breaks are to ensure that parent carers receive a break from their caring responsibility; there is no duty upon the local authority to provide Early Help Individual Payments to families, the authority could have taken the decision as many local authorities have across the country to directly commission support and signpost families directly to it.  After consultation with the parent carers forum we decided to maintain Early Help Individual Payments for parents to give them greater choice concerning how they receive breaks from care.  If this was solely a cost cutting exercise we surely would have ceased providing EHIPs.

We intend to publish an EHIP’s fact sheet as part of our local offer ‘Livewell’ webpages over the coming days and will establish EHIP’s surgeries that will operate through day and early evenings across the authority. These surgeries will be an opportunity for any parent, currently receiving EHIP’s and new cases, to discuss any EHIP issue with a member of the short breaks team

Cat Linde the short breaks team manager is currently identifying dates and venues and we will then publish and promote these events.

Chair’s blog: Happy New Year!

The parent carer forum would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

We would like to share with you some of the things we have achieved in 2017 also some of our plans for 2018.

2017 has been a very busy year for the reps we have been working on and helping roll out the new toolkit which schools should be using now making a uniform approach in all schools when it comes to SEN. This makes it easier for schools, parents and the LA to work together.

Myself and Chris have been working with the new short breaks team, sharing your concerns and working with them on the transfer of managing EHIPS from CCIL back into the council. There is now a team of people who will be working with families on EHIPs instead of just one person. The team are currently looking for a pre-paid card provider for EHIPs so families are not paying out of their own pocket. We also wanted some feedback on your preference on how they do the EHIPs forms: would you want them sending out before your visit from the short breaks team or would you prefer them to bring it on the day of your visit?

Cat Linde – team manager for the short breaks team – says:

‘Another productive meeting with Mandy and Chris today, things are feeling much more positive! 

Working closely with Nick from CCIL has been great and will really help towards a smooth transition for EHIPs. 

Parents now have the CWD Short Break Team contact details [you can call them on 01625 378083] and some have been in touch, it’s fab to start making links. 

My team and I are looking forward to meeting lots more parents at our upcoming coffee morning’ 

I am currently on the team looking at the new free school planned for 2020 we are currently going to tender. I will keep you informed of the progress. I think it is great that the council want a parent view on this it also gives us the opportunity to have our say on our children’s future schooling.

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the parent carer forum in 2017 and invite you all to get involved in 2018.

Mandy Dickson, 31 December 2017

Autumn 2017 Members’ Survey – the results!

Over October & November 2017, we ran a survey asking the members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum what issues are affecting their families most.

Thank you to everyone who responded – it is really useful for us to know what issues we should be looking at, and gives the parent representatives real examples so that they can better represent all the members.

We have now reviewed all the responses, and written a summary which you can read here:

Autumn 17 PCF survey results

The top five issues were:

  1. Accessing support for your child / young person’s mental health
  2. Schools
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Education Health and Care Plans
  5. Activities for your child / young person



School Transport: Statement from Cheshire East

Cheshire East Council has issued a statement in response to the problems experienced by many of our members at the beginning of the school year, and they have asked us to share it with you.

Tracey Beardmore-Evans (SEND Service Manager) says:

Cheshire East Council has taken the concerns raised about transport by parents/carers very seriously. 

A senior member of staff attends the Client Side Meetings monthly and the issues experienced by several parents/carers have been discussed and taken away for action by operational members of staff.

A representative from TSS has been invited to attend the January Parent Carer Forum to provide an update. A Transport Review has also recently been undertaken and, in order to improve collaborative working, Cheshire East Council and TSS are fully represented on each of the 3 work streams.  

Key areas of work currently underway are: –  clarity of roles across all areas to avoid parents/carers feeling like they are being passed around and ensuring that the EHCP review process incorporates changes in support requirements relating to transport

We will, of course, update you again following our meeting with the TSS representative. If you have any additional feedback you would like us to pass on, please email or call 07794431768

Autism Consultation – we need your voices – 12th Dec 2018 Macc pm

Autism Consultation – we need your voices – 12th Dec 2018 Crewe am Macc pm

We need as many parents/carers to come to the following consultation events to let the authorities know your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. This is being hosted by Ian Donegani – Head of Service

As part of a consultation exercise, the council are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire (up to 25)

Session 1: Tuesday 12th December 11am-2pm at Autism Inclusive (Crewe)
Session 2: Tuesday 12th December 5pm-8pm at SPACE4Autism (Macclesfield)

As part of a consultation exercise, we are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. One at Autism Inclusive and one at Space4Autism

Hosted by:
Ian Donegani – Head of Service (SEND & Inclusion
Cheryl Knupfer – Autism Behaviour Consultant

We need as many parents/carers and also youths to come along and have your say to let the team know of your experiences of Autism in Cheshire. I know we have been there before but again this is your chance to have a voice

Autism Consultation – we need your voices – 12th Dec 2017 Crewe am

Autism Consultation – we need your voices

We need as many parents/carers to come to the following consultation events to let the authorities know your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. This is being hosted by Ian Donegani – Head of Service

As part of a consultation exercise, the council are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire (up to 25)

Session 1: Tuesday 12th December 11am-2pm at Autism Inclusive (Crewe)
Session 2: Tuesday 12th December 5pm-8pm at SPACE4Autism (Macclesfield)

As part of a consultation exercise, we are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. One at Autism Inclusive and one at Space4Autism

Hosted by:
Ian Donegani – Head of Service (SEND & Inclusion
Cheryl Knupfer – Autism Behaviour Consultant

We need as many parents/carers and also youths to come along and have your say to let the team know of your experiences of Autism in Cheshire. I know we have been there before but again this is your chance to have a voice

CEIAS workshop – next steps

Together with the team from Cheshire East Information, Advice and Support, the PCF invited parents to a coffee morning to find out about recent changes to the team, how those changes are affecting their service, and to share our feedback so that they can start planning for the future.

You can click here to read a summary of these discussions

Following on from these sessions, CEIAS are reviewing the information on their website (click here to view the CEIAS website)

CEIAS has asked if parent carers could please give them any ideas or feedback on the following pages:

Once these pages have been updated to reflect suggested changes, they will then look at the other pages and leaflets.

If you would like to take part, please send any feedback to by Friday 8 December

Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Team

Cheshire East Council and the Cheshire East Parents Carers Forum wanted to write to you to provide information on some of the developments that have recently taken place within the local authority and to answer some of the questions that you may have concerning this.  With that in mind we would like to take the opportunity to apologise for any for any concern that uncertainty about the developments has caused parents and carers and hope this information will help.

We would like to introduce a new team within Cheshire East, the ‘Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Team’.  The team has been developed to improve services for children and young people with disabilities and their families who access short breaks and to ensure that parents and carers have a direct point of contact within the local authority for enquiries and support.

The Short Breaks Team will manage all direct payment packages and work closely with short break providers (commissioned services) who offer clubs, groups and activities as part of our ‘short break local offer’ across Cheshire East.

The team consists of a Team Manager, Cat Linde and four Family Support Workers, Rachel Barker, Lisa Eyres, Rafiah Zubair and Eric Hasleden.  We are going to provide more information about the individual experiences of the team members within the next Parent Carers Forum Newsletter, however we are really pleased that all of the members of the team have come from a background where they have worked with or have personal experiences of children with disabilities.

The team is based within Macclesfield Town Hall; however they will be working across the whole of Cheshire East.  We are really excited to be working with you all on the development of the new team.

Along with Short Break Direct Payments, from the 1st April the Short Breaks Team will also manage Early Help Individual Payments (EHIPS). Over the past 18 months, with the support of the Parent Carers Forum, Cheshire East consulted around whether parent carers wanted to continue with EHIPs, this consultation received a resounding yes and a decision was made to continue to deliver this as part of our ‘short breaks local offer’.

Between now and the 1st April the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) will continue to manage the EHIP’s process.  We are very happy to confirm that we have already provided CCIL with the total fund to ensure that there are no further delays to you receiving your payments and we really want to apologise to you if you have had payment problems over the past month.

How EHIPs were to be delivered was not part of the short breaks consultation and the decision to bring EHIPs into the remit of the Short Breaks Team was a local authority based decision as the contract with the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living was coming to an end.  We hope to reassure you that we believe that the new team will improve the service that you receive and I can also confirm that there are absolutely no savings attached to this change.  We are confident that the development of the new team demonstrates the ongoing commitment in Cheshire East to improve services for disabled children and their families.

It is our understanding that a letter was sent by CCIL asking for your consent to share your details with the local authority.  This was actioned as without parents giving CCIL consent to share their details with the local authority, it would mean that Cheshire East would not know who to make payments to once EHIP’s moves into the new Short Breaks Team.  We understand that the letter sent by CCIL was interpreted by some parents as having a threatening tone, in that if parents and carers did not give consent then their payments would stop.  Clearly this should not have been written as a threat, as all we want to achieve is a transfer of EHIP’s between CCIL and Cheshire East with as little impact on children, young people and their families as possible and we would like to apologise for tone of the letter.  We will make sure that we feed back to CCIL that regrettably some families have been distressed by the wording of the letter.

We can understand that some parents and carers feel that they have experienced changes to what they could spend their EHIP’s on.  We would like to explain that we regret that there has been confusion as some previous EHIP’s were paid out in error using the adult criteria, which is not a specific short break criterion.  We are confident that by bringing the EHIP’s management into the Short Breaks Team we will avoid future confusion.

The national statutory guidance requires local authorities to provide short breaks that give parent carers a break from their caring responsibilities.  If for example a parent uses their EHIP to pay for a holiday in which they accompany their child, this does not constitute a short break, as the parent is there caring for the child.  If however the parent uses the EHIP to pay for a carer to accompany them on the holiday, who will take responsibility in whole or in part for caring for the child or young person, then this does constitute a short break.  The same might apply to buying a Merlin card for a carer to take the child out so a parent can have a break. The Short Breaks Team will be able to give families advice on how best they can use their EHIP’s

In addition some parent carers have asked us to clarify whether or not they can stay at a short break event with their child.  This issue is about choice for parents and carers.  You should not be made to stay by our commissioned providers as by doing so you are not being given a break from you caring responsibilities.  If however you are given the choice to stay, for example to attend a parent coffee morning being run by the same provider and you decide for yourself that you would like to stay, that is fine.  Ultimately you must feel as parent carers that you have that ability to make a decision for yourself about whether you would like to stay and not. And not have the choice taken out of your hands

The statutory guidance that all local authorities have to work too is entitled ‘short breaks for carers of disabled children’ which we have included as a link below.  EHIPs constitutes part of Cheshire East’s short break ‘local offer’, this is the short breaks that are available to children, young people and their families without having to undergo an assessment of need, either through the National Assessment Framework for Children in Need and their Families or the Common Assessment Framework.

The Children Act 1989 (“the 1989 Act”) states that local authorities have a duty to provide, as part of the range of services they provide for families, breaks from caring for carers of disabled children to support them to continue to care for their children at home and to allow them to do so more effectively.  Recent case law and new legislation has also had an effect on the services that local authorities offer and how they deliver them.

Local authorities must do the following:

  • Ensure that parents are engaged in the design of local short breaks services;
  • not apply any eligibility criteria mechanistically without consideration of a particular family’s needs
  • give families the choice to access short breaks services using a direct payment
  • “state in their short breaks service statement the range of short breaks services available, the criteria by which eligibility for services will be assessed, and how the range of services is designed to meet the needs of families with disabled children in their area; “
  • Good practice is that a ”local offer” is considered in order to provide families with access to some short breaks services without any assessment.

If you are already receiving EHIPS, over the coming weeks and months you will be contacted by a member of the Short Breaks Team who will help identify all those things that EHIPs can be used for.  There will always be things that need to be agreed on a case by case basis, as our aim is to ensure that whatever is being purchased does provide the parent carer with a break from their caring responsibility.

Please email us at  , if you would like to be contacted sooner for advice on what you can spend your EHIPS on or are interested in applying.

The Short Breaks Team will also be able to help with finding alternative funding streams and charities, so if there is something we don’t agree you can spend your EHIPs on, we can help identify alternative ways to fund and access the support that you may require

All of the new short break providers (groups, clubs and activities) are part of Cheshire East’s short break local offer along with other organisations offering short break support.  The new Short Breaks Team is working on the development of a newsletter and written details of all the short breaks that can be accessed across the local area.  Attached to this letter is a timetable of all the short break providers that we have directly commissioned (Paid) to provide you and your children with support

We have also attached a link to our short break web pages for reference.   However, we fully understand that some families may require additional support in identifying the most appropriate short break for them and their child.  This is also a task that the new short breaks team will be very happy to help with.

Having looked at the questions that we developed through the quick quiz we can see that no explanation was given around the previous short break contracts coming to an end.  In hindsight it would have been beneficial for us to have done this as it might have reassured any parent carers who were concerned about the motivation for re-tendering the short breaks local offer contracts.

Cheshire East will therefore be reviewing how it carried out its short break re-commissioning so that it can learn lessons about communicating and working with parent and carers in the future.  There was a representative from the Parent Carers Forum involved in the tender evaluation and contract award process but Cheshire East want to look at whether this process can be improved.

We have already established regular meetings between the Joint Chairs of the Parent Carers Forum, the Service Manager of the Children with Disabilities Service and the Team Manager for the Short Breaks Team, to ensure that the short breaks service continues to be developed in co-production with parent carers.

To ensure that moving the management of EHIPS into the Short Breaks Team goes as smoothly as possible, we would like to set up a working group involving the Parent Carer Forum, Cheshire East and CCIL.

The Short Breaks Team is also going to liaise with the Parent Carer Forum to arrange a coffee morning where you will be able to meet Cat, Rachel, Lisa, Rafiah and Eric.  We would love to see as many people involved as possible so that we can all be involved in the development of this exciting new service.

CEIAS workshop – update from our Chair


On Friday the 10th November 2017, the PCF held a joint coffee morning CEIAS – Cheshire East Information Advice Support.

This event was to give parents a chance to work with CEIAS to help think, how they could use their resources most effectively to support and empower parents. As there have been changes in staffing at CEIAS we looked at issues such as whether all the things CEIAS do currently make a difference or not, are there better ways of doing things or things CEIAS don’t do now but should consider, and how parents can help and influence CEIAS’ development as a service.

The event was very helpful and parents said they found the openness about staffing changes and being asked for opinions on how the service should work really positive. Lots of actions and suggestions have been taken away and we will be feeding back progress to parent carers.

If you have any questions or have any information about the service please email

CAF Awareness Training – slides

On 1 November Laura Hindhaugh from Cheshire East Council delivered some training on CAF awareness for parents.

You can view the slides from the presentation here:

CAF powerpoint parent carer forum 1.11.17 (3)

We will be arranging a follow up session for parents who attended the session to discuss further and raise any questions or feedback. Please email if you would like to come, or have any questions or feedback that you would like us to take to the CAF team


Chairs’ blog – Working with the LA on Independent Travel Training

Mandy Dickson:
The parent forum have been very busy over the last few months working with Cheshire east trying to improve on departments within SEN.
I wanted to share some information with you about a new working group that I am part of looking at Independent travel training for our young people,
Our first meeting was last week and they will continue until it is felt ready to roll out.
I believe this to be a project that firstly is close to many parents’ hearts; I understand a parent’s apprehension around our children travelling independently and I will be mindful of representing these concerns in the works.
I also feel that this is an important part of introducing our children to becoming independent. Having the ability to use public transport both confidently and safely will help ready our children for such things as college, job interviews and socialising with friends.
I believe this service will give confidence to both parents and our children. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts, ideas and concerns on this workshop. and I will keep you updated.
If you think you’d like to find out more about being a parent representative & getting involved in work like this we’d love to hear from you! Call 07794431768 or email

CAF Awareness Training for Parents (Sandbach)

Wednesday 1 November, 10:00am to 2:00pm
Sandbach Cricket Club, CW11 3LZ

In response to requests from members of the Parent Carer Forum, Cheshire East Council are going to deliver some training on the CAF process.

The training will cover:

  • Where CAF came from
  • What Working Together  says re early help assessments
  • Information sharing rules
  • Thresholds /levels of need – where does CAF sit
  • Consent
  • Assessment /planning process
  • Child’s voice
  • Forms

The training is free of charge and members of the forum can claim any travel or childcare expenses. 

Places are limited – please follow this link to book your place on parents’ CAF Awareness Training

Our First Coffee Morning!

We are holding a coffee morning for parent carers in Cheshire East

  • Come along for a drink, cake and a chat with other parent carers
  • Lots of information from Everybody sport, Cheshire & Warrington Carers Trust and many more
  • CEIAS will be there to share their advice and expertise
  • Janet Threader & Sue Scarle from CEAT will also be joining us
  • Children welcome 
  • Max cards available for new members (and replacement Max Cards if yours has expired)

We also need to hear from you: the Parent Carer Forum wants to hear what are the issues that are affecting you and your family right now: transport? short breaks? ehcps? transition? something else…..?
Let us know and  we can make sure we’re representing you properly (& you could be in with a chance of winning a high street voucher!)

Ossyfest – Music Festival for people and families with autism, a learning disability or both

The charity My Life My Way are hosting Ossyfest – a music festival for children, young people, adults with a learning disability, autism or both, and their families

There will be 9 bands on the outdoor stage, 8 acoustic acts, comedy. DJs, circus skills, glitter, festival hair, arts and crafts and most importantly FUN for all the family……

Tickets on sale now – £5

Saturday 21st October, Hippingsvale Community Centre, Harvey Street, Oswaldstwistle, BB5 3LT

British Sign Language, Makaton & Signalong courses at Seashell Trust

Courses open to Cheshire East parents at the Seashell Trust: British sign language, Makaton & Signalong.

Each course is practical, interactive and led by our friendly specialist staff team. You’ll come away with knowledge and skills you can put into practice straight away

  • British Sign Language
    BSL is the preferred language of tens of thousands of deaf people across the UK. Their course is taught in two hour bite size sessions each week, where you learn and practice with others. By the end of each course you will be confident using sign language to converse on a range of everyday subjects.
  •  Makaton and Signalong
    If you’re supporting a person with communication difficulties as a result learning disabilities, attending our Makaton or Signalong courses could have a big impact. Both use signs and symbols to help people communicate, with Signalong offering a greater number of words. They’re designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech in spoken word order. Using Makaton or Signalong removes the frustration of being unable to communicate effectively with others, connecting individuals with the people and world around them and unlocking a whole host of possibilities.…/makaton-foundation-course

Further information
For more information about these courses, or to book your place, email or call 0161 610 0187. Not sure which course would suit you best? Then please contact them for a chat on 0161 610 0187

Handforth Clinic – East Cheshire NHS Trust Consultation

East Cheshire NHS Trust have this week launched a consultation on proposals to relocate some outpatient services from Handforth Clinic. More information can be seen below.

Local people are being urged to have their say on proposals to relocate some outpatient clinics from Handforth Clinic in a public consultation which started on Monday July 24th

Follow this link to have your say:

East Cheshire NHS Trust offers outpatient appointments with some consultants at Handforth Clinic, alongside a range of community healthcare services such as district nursing and physiotherapy.

Both Handforth Clinic and the adjacent Handforth Health Centre belong to the GP partners based at the building. In recent years, the part of the building used by East Cheshire NHS Trust to provide both outpatient clinics and to accommodate community health services such as district nursing has been let to the trust under a complex agreement involving multiple partners. The trust’s existing lease expires in October 2017 and the trust faces a significant increase in costs from October if it is to keep all the space it currently occupies.

As a result, the trust is proposing to retain the majority of its community services at Handforth but relocate the consultants’ clinics to its own sites in Macclesfield, Congleton and Knutsford – sites which Handforth patients will normally visit during their pathway of care for diagnostic services such as blood tests and X-rays.

The proposals would involve no reduction in overall capacity and availability of appointments for these services. Additionally, less than half (46%) of patients attending the clinics are from the Handforth (SK9 postcode) area, with other patients travelling to Handforth Health Centre from surrounding areas.

Services which the trust intends to keep at Handforth Health Centre, subject to final negotiations with partners, include:

  • Community Nursing Services
  • Epilepsy Clinic
  • Physiotherapy
  • Continence
  • Cardio Respiratory Diagnostics
  • Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy
  • Parkinson’s Clinic
  • Heart Failure Clinic
  • Weight Management
  • Anti-coagulant Clinic
  • GP Out-of-Hours

The trust’s consultation document on the issue can be accessed here. Printed copies have also been distributed at community venues in and around the Handforth area and shared with patient groups.

The consultation is set to run until Sunday, September 3rd, after which the trust will assess responses from patients, members of the public and stakeholders.

It is important to note that no final decisions have been made in relation to the proposals. The trust is encouraging everyone with an interest in the issue to take part in the consultation.

Follow this link to have your say:

Expired MAX cards – request your replacement

Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum are really pleased to be able to offer a free MAX card to our members

For full details of the scheme please click here to go to the MAX card website

The first batch of MAX cards we bought will soon be expiring. If you would like a new one, please follow this link to apply for a replacement MAX card

Please note that we are all parent carers, so the school holidays mean we have less time available – we will get the new card back to you as soon as we can but there may be a bit of a delay due to the juggles of school holidays and annual leave – thanks for understanding!

Cheshire & Warrington Carers Trust holiday activities

Diary Dates: all families of children who have additional needs welcome

  • Hebden Green School Winsford 11am-1.30pm
    Friday 11th August Wild West Ponies, inclusive sports and games with Phil, crafts, & sensory fun
  • Weds 16 August Baby Beats Music, Bouncy castle, balloon magic, inclusive sports with Phil and crafts
  • Friday 1st September Baby Beats Music, Adapted bikes, sensory fun & crafts
    No need to book just turn up. Free refreshments, bring a picnic.
  • Weds 23 August FAMILY FUN DAY lots of activities for all the family to enjoy….wheelchair basketball, crafts, adapted bikes, stalls, bouncy castle, animals plus much more. This event is ticket only. Please email for your ticket and programme. 11am-3pm.

Thanks to BBC Children in Need for funding these events. We hope you will be able to attend and enjoy.

The Counselling & Family Centre Autumn Training Courses

The Counselling and Family Centre in Altrincham are running four courses in the autumn for members of the public.

All courses will be held at The Counselling and Family Centre – 40 Mayors Road, Altrincham, WA15 9RP.

The courses are free for anyone on means-tested benefits (proof will need to be seen at the first session)  For those attending who are not on means-tested benefits there is a charge of £10 for the whole course.

Please note that these courses are for members of the public, not for counsellors or other professionals.


13-Sep 01-Nov 8 weeks Wednesday 7pm – 8:30pm Calm Us – Course
14-Sep 19-Oct 6 weeks Thursday 12:30pm – 2pm I’m a Parent get me out of here, 11 and older
14-Sep 02-Nov 8 weeks Thursday 2.30pm – 4.30pm Dealing with Anger Effectively – Men only
09-Nov 14-Dec 6 weeks Thursday 12:45pm – 2.45pm Building Self-esteem and Confidence


Please ring 0161 941 7754 if you would like to book a place. If you have any questions please email me on

Short Breaks Briefing Event

Cheshire East Council hosted an event on 21/06/17 where they invited parent carers to come and hear about changes that are being made to their short breaks services.

If you were unable to get to the meeting you can click here to see the presentation

You can also click here read the notes taken by Claire Johnson (a parent carer, and CEPCF secretary)

They also launched a consultation on the future of EHIPs (Early Help Individual Payments)

If you would like to take part in this consultation, please take a few moments to complete our quick quiz:


Statement from Cheshire East on CEIAS changes

We know there have been some questions asked recently about whether there are going to be any changes to the service provided by CEIAS (formerly parent partnership). We approached Gemma Hambrook at Cheshire East to ask the question directly, and received this response:

The Cheshire East Information, Advice and Support (CEIAS) service is part of the wider 14 – 19 Education Team within Cheshire East.  As we are constantly looking to improve the outcomes for families and young people within the context of  financial challenge, we have undergone a recent restructure of management across all teams.

 The responsibility of the service will now sit within the remit of the Safeguarding and Advocacy Manager, from September 2017. This role is a new post and it will not be connected to either SEND or social care teams. The services the team currently  deliver to families will not change – and face to face, telephone and email support will continue. The team will continue to provide high-quality, independent advice and guidance to families across the borough.

 In order to make the service more outcome focused and efficient, we will work on a locality model (four areas of Cheshire East) that will maximise the use of the staff time available and we will ensure that administrative support is available to the staff from the wider service to ensure the majority of staff time can be spent working directly with families and young people.

 As we move into the new academic year, we look forward to working with the Parent Carer Forum to help shape the next developments of the service as we begin to review how we utilise technology to support our families and young people.

We know how important CEIAS is to parent carers in Cheshire East, so we will be watching with interest to see how the changes work out. If you have any thoughts or experiences you want to share, please get in contact.

AGM 2017 – Minutes, reports & slides

Tuesday 23 May saw our Annual General Meeting held at Sandbach Cricket Club

You can click here to read the minutes from our AGM 2017

We heard:



Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum Annual General Meeting 2017


Sandbach Cricket Club, Hind Heath Road, CW11 3LZ
Tuesday 23 May, 2017 from 10am
for tea / coffee (10.15 start) finishing with lunch (provided)
You are invited to join us at your parent carer forum’s annual general meeting.

We will be joined by:

  • Sherann Hillman MBE (Co-Chair of the National Network of ParentCarer Forums), speaking about effective co-production
  • Ian Donegani (Head of Service: SEND & Inclusion for Cheshire East) speaking about the SEND consultations and an update on changes to SEND services in Cheshire East
  • Chris Wee (Consultant Child Psychiatrist) will run a short workshop: Introduction to Sensory Processing

We will also have the Treasurer’s report for 2016 / 17, an update from the Parent Representatives about the work they’ve been involved with, and the election of officers and steering group members. If you are interested in any of these roles, please get in touch.

We will finish with lunch, and the chance to chat with the speakers and other attendees.

Members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum can claim their travel / childcare in line with our expenses policy.

RSVP : We really hope that you can join us! As lunch is provided, we need to know how many are coming – if you would like to come please email or call 07794431768 to let us know. Please make sure to mention any dietary requirement

Free Max Cards for members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum

We are delighted to be able to offer a free Max Card to members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum!

The Max card is a discount card for children with additional needs who are aged 0 – 19, and their families. It offers discounts on attractions and days out across the UK, as well as great deals on some products.

For full details on the discounts available go to

Numbers are limited, so we can offer one card per household. The easiest way to sign up is to click here and complete our online application form. It should only take a few minutes.

If you have any questions please email us

Wizard Walk & Guinness World Record Attempt!

Print Flyer Back Final Print Flyer Final Front
Fathers Day, June 19th – next Sunday – will see the inaugural Wizard Walk in Alderley Edge,  and an attempt at a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of wizards.
We want to double the current record to 500 wizards. We have 80 wizards – needing 171!
The event is being organised by Sarah (one of our members). Her son Max is 8 and has scoliosis (collapsing spine) that requires surgery before his spine impacts his internal organs and becomes life threatening. Ultimately he’ll need his spine to be fused solid leaving him with life-long disability and pain management.
From years of research, his mum knows that there are routes to a better outcome, and is fundraising to get his to the US for therapies.
The event is designed around Max who has learning difficulties and uses a wheelchair with assistance. It is a 2 mile stroll with lots of fun on route. Then at the school playing field where we finish, there will be ‘Dare Your Daddy’ challenges, before we attempt the Guinness World Record.
The itinery for the day is:
10am Grand Wizard Assembly – collect your walkers pack and change
11am Wizard Walk
12pm Wizard Council Gathering – Dare Your Daddy Games
13:30 Guinness World Record attempt
2pm End
Tickets are £7 or £25 for a family of four
All registered walkers receive a pack with a costume, activity map, pencil, water and receive a dated walkers wand at the finish.
No ticket required to show up and support the event or take part in the guinness world record.
See website for dress rules to participate.
There’s lots more information and pictures about the accessible walk route and activities on the website here:

Annual General Meeting 2016

Chair’s report AGM 2016Thank you to all those of you who were able to come to our Annual General Meeting on 26 April 2016.

We had Geraldine Hills as our speaker, followed by the election of officers, a review of the year and a look ahead to some exciting changes in 2016/17!


Here are the minutes from the meeting

20160426 AGM Minutes

plus the documents we discussed

Chair’s report AGM 2016

CEPCF Treasurer’s report APR2016-1

Cheshire East PCF Structure 2016-1


Free Congleton buses during half term

Beartown Bus half term ‘Free Fur All’!
For one week only from 26-31 October 2015, everyone is invited to unlimited FREE travel on the 90,
91 and 92 Beartown Buses, the great, greener way to get around Congleton!
Just hop on board at your nearest stop and enjoy the ride! The easy access buses run half hourly throughout the day – and leather seats and free wifi mean you can travel in comfort. Don’t forget to enter the competition to name the two Beartown Buses while you’re on board and win a further 6 months free travel too!

For timetables and route details click here to visit the Beartown Buses website

Thinking about the best support for your child or young person: A workshop on person-centred planning for parent carers

Following on from the very popular “taster” session at our July Open Forum we can now bring you THINKING ABOUT THE BEST SUPPORT FOR YOUR CHILD OR YOUNG PERSON: A workshop on person-centred planning for parent carers

The workshop will run over two days – Monday 23 and Monday 30 November. You’ll have the opportunity to use what you have learned in the first session, so be prepared to spend an hour or two between the two sessions thinking about your own situation and starting to answer some of the questions raised. It doesn’t need to take a long time and you won’t have to come up with firm ideas, just have a go!

If you would like to book a place please contact us email or call 07794431768.

Lunch is provided, so please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.  Members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum can claim their travel / childcare expenses. If you need a lift or are able to offer a lift to another parent please let us know.

201511 Person Centred Training