Young people (up to 25)
Local Offer SEND Information Hub
Watch this fun video about stuff to do in Manchester, made by students from Loreto College. There is also this video about the Flip project, an example of a SEND Community Offer activity for young people.
Go to the Local Offer SEND Information Hub.
Arts and creativity
AMP Music-making: AMP (Accessible Music Productions) is HOME’s project for music lovers, makers and shakers aged 18-25 with different abilities and additional needs. Working in partnership with Venture Arts, AMP includes monthly music workshops that support musicians to write, play and create music from an eclectic mix of sounds, plus House Party, a quarterly club night with open mic, live music, DJs and dancing ‘til late. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get involved.
Cinema - CEA Card: The CEA Card is a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). The Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema. Find out more about the CEA scheme. If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, cinema staff should make them for you whether you have a CEA Card or not.
Community Media Crew: This alternative day service is for learning disabled and autistic people over the age of 18 and is based in St John’s Club in Wythenshawe. Set up by TV film and producer John McCormack, participants can join in film-making and acting workshops. Find out more on the website.
Starling: Manchester-based Starling has a programme of free creative activities for neurodivergent young people aged 13-25. Contact them through the website to see what is currently available. Young people with a diagnosis and self-identifying welcome.
The Horsfall: The Horsfall is the creative programme of 42nd Street. Find out more on the website.
Venture Arts: Based in Hulme, Venture Arts supports people with learning disabilities to reach their full potential through visual arts and culture.
Emotional and mental wellbeing
42nd Street: 42nd Street offers online support to young people in Manchester. Check their website for more information and updates about the service.
Ambitious About Autism resources: Ambitious About Autism has shared some resources around autism and mental health, co-produced with young autistic people: How you can help young autistic people, Know Your Normal editable toolkit, and case studies around eating disorders, sexual assault, and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Autism diagnosis resources: A group of autistic young people have shared their experiences of receiving an autism diagnosis to help others going through the process. Members of Ambitious About Autism’s Youth Network have created a series of new videos and blogs in which they talk about what it felt like to be diagnosed - some as children, teenagers or as young adults.
Breakthrough support: Breakthrough UK have a project supporting disabled people to reconnect with their communities and health services following Covid. It is for over 18s living in Manchester who consider themselves to be disabled. The project offers one to one support to help with things like travel training, becoming more confident with technology, attending social activities and connecting with support services. Young people can be referred or self-refer. More information on Breakthrough's website.
Free counselling and support service: Respect For All offers a range of free support to autistic people, people with learning disabilities, and their parents and carers in Greater Manchester. This includes an Initial Support Service, counselling and Post Diagnosis Support.
Health For Teens: Health For Teens is a website about health, relationships, feelings, lifestyle and growing up, plus information on services in your area.
Kooth: Free, safe and anonymous online counselling is available for all young people aged 11-18 across Greater Manchester - https://kooth.com. Find out more about Kooth in this FAQ, aimed at professionals but helpful to parent carers.
Manchester Mind: Manchester Mind have free services for young people aged 13-25. See their website.
Papyrus: Papyrus’ HOPELINEUK is a phoneline for children and young people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide. It is also for anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide.
Stormbreak: Stormbreak have mental health videos and activities with the aim to act as a ‘break’ from the storm and help young people be happier and more resilient.
The Mix: The Mix is a free and confidential multi-channel service for the under 25s.
Time To Talk - Next Steps: Too many young people with additional support needs lack confidence and ideas about their future. The life-changing Time to Talk Next Steps programme is open for new referrals. It is a free online support and self-advocacy programme for young people aged 16-25 who are experiencing anxiety, isolation and have limited or no plans for the future. They may be in school or in college or have finished all education and be unsure how to move forward. The experienced team provide virtual one to one support to build confidence and help navigate life's challenges. They also work without labels; young people do not need to have a diagnosis or Education Health and Care Plan. If you know a young person who would benefit, let them know or see if they would like you to get in touch on their behalf. Find out more at Time To Talk – Next Steps.
Wellbeing Group: There is a free activity group for young people aged 14-25 with SEND and SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) to make new friends, gain confidence and improve their wellbeing. It’s run by the charity KIDS and is on Monday evenings 6-8pm at 422 Community Hub, M12 4EX in the Longsight/Ardwick area. It is easy to find, with the 192 bus stopping outside and parking on nearby roads. Activities include arts and crafts, cooking, healthy living and having a say. The contact is Kerry at email@example.com or 07815 922910. Please feel welcome to give Kerry a call. They offer a one to one session at home to help smooth the way. Parent carers can also stay at sessions whilst young people settle in.
Employment, training and volunteering
Ambitious Youth Network: The Ambitious Youth Network offers a safe and moderated online space to help autistic young people aged 16-25 understand their autistic identity and reduce isolation and loneliness that many feel. Young people will be able to take part in peer support sessions, share experiences and find volunteering, work experience and employment opportunities. There will also be opportunities for them to work together and campaign for change. Find out more on the Ambitious about Autism website.
Digital internships: 19 to 30 year olds living in Manchester with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can get support to prepare for adulthood and employment. They can grow their creativity and digital skills over the course of a year in a supported internship from the Digital Independent Specialist College (DISC). Visit the website to find out more.
Employment and student support: See the following information for information and guidance around employment:
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Council's Specialist Employability Support information
- Career Connect for 15 to 18 year olds in Manchester
- Contact's quick guide to funding of students 16-25 with SEND
Future You: ‘Future You’ is a free mentoring programme for 18-24 year olds in Greater Manchester not in education, employment or training. A dedicated mentor works with a young person one to one once a week for up to nine months, with a view to progressing them into a job, apprenticeship or course. The mentoring is geared to the young person. If they are anxious about using public transport, they can do travel training to slowly build up their confidence and independence. If they are close to being ready to work, the sessions might focus on CV writing and mock job interviews. Meetings can take place wherever the young people feel most comfortable – in the office, a café or community space, or even in their home. To refer or receive more information please visit the Future You website or call 0800 0249006.
Hatch employability programme: The Hatch employability programme is delivered in partnership with UK Youth and The KFC Foundation, it is aimed at young people aged 16 to 25 who are ready to enter the workplace but just need a little extra support. Participants complete pre-employability workshops with Greater Manchester Youth Network in the city centre, followed by four weeks of paid work experience (16 hours per week) at KFC or another employer. They will be paid (at least minimum wage) for their placement and have an opportunity to have a real interview at KFC. There are likely to be new start dates for 2024. To find out more, including how to apply, contact Liv on 07708 028312, firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Manchester programme: The 0161 Project in Moston, North Manchester, has a 16+ Vocational Taster Programme. It’s for 16-25 year olds with an EHCP and offers opportunities in hair and beauty, mechanics, hospitality and sport. Young people can gain experience in a variety of vocational activities as an alternative to mainstream further education. Sessions are delivered in small groups, as well as one to one settings, with SEND experienced and skilled staff who can adapt to the needs of the young people. Whilst parents/carers are welcome to make contact to find out more, referral is through a professional working with the young person, such as a careers connect caseworker, college careers staff or SEN lead. Get in touch with Martin at martin.roberts@The0161project.co.uk or 07359 475 014.
Prince's Trust Development Awards: The Prince’s Trust Development Awards are small, fast-access grants to support those aged 16-30 to progress into education, training or employment. Development awards can help to cover the cost of course fees, tools or equipment to help young people achieve their goals. They can offer up to £250 per young person and up to £500 for care leavers. Find out more here.
Project Choice: Project Choice is a national specialist post-16 college providing individually tailored supported internships for 16-24 year olds with learning difficulties, disabilities and/or autism. The internships are for one year, delivered within NHS organisations, the independent sector and private business. There are no academic requirements, however individuals will need an aspiration to work and a current EHCP. Find out more on the Project Choice website.
Rising Stars Fund: We Love MCR Charity aims to improve the lives and life chances of individuals and communities across Manchester. The Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund supports ambitious, talented, young people aged 16 to 24 years old to achieve their potential. Read the Grant Guidance.
Supported Internships: These are pathways to employment for young people aged 16-24 with SEND who have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Interns are enrolled on a study programme as a student of the college but spend most of their time in a work placement instead of a classroom. It’s a great chance to learn by ‘doing’ and develop the skills needed by employers. There are Supported Internships across the city - check out our Local Offer directory.
Transition To Employment Toolkit: Ambitious About Autism have created an employment toolkit to support autistic young people into the job market. It has sections for autistic young people, careers professionals and employers, and includes lots of editable forms and templates. It has been developed to tackle the low autism employment rate and aims to prevent autistic young people from falling out of education, employment or training when they leave school. Download for free here.
Workschemes from SCOPE: Starting Line is a 7-week group course covering a range of modules in pre-employability skills combined with 1-to-1 tailored support and guidance. Participants can expect to finish with goal setting skills, an updated and improved CV, interview skills, sector specific job search knowledge, and guidance on how to talk about their disability / health condition. It is most suited to young people aged 16 and over who have not worked before or not worked for a long time. Visit www.scope.org.uk/starting-line and complete the online form.
Kickstart is aimed at young people who have recently worked, have a consistent work history, and feel ready to work. It focuses on employment goals and offers 1-to-1 support for up to 6 months. Visit www.scope.org.uk/kickstart and complete the online form.
Gaming and virtual activity
Gaming sessions: Join Everyone Can at their Technology and Gaming centre in Sale for their popular gaming sessions for disabled children. They have various games and control methods to ensure everyone can game, matching technology to your children’s needs. Find out more and book here.
Spectrum Gaming: Spectrum Gaming is a friendly and accepting community for autistic young people who have a shared passion for gaming. They can make friends, play games together and have fun. The group was set up by autistic advocates in Greater Manchester who oversee the community but all decisions are made by the young people. Find out more on their website.
Therapeutic Forest: The Therapeutic Forest runs free alternate sessions of foraging treasure hunts, virtual forest school and outdoor yoga every Saturday for SEND young people aged 8-18. Spaces are limited - sign up here.
Skateboarding and music-making: These free music-making and skateboarding sessions are at Projekts skatepark near Piccadilly Station. It is a chance for young people to enjoy an hour of skateboard coaching, followed by an hour of music-making with Billy and Andy who offer accessible music workshops. In January 23, the sessions moved to every Tuesday 4.30-6.30pm. Families are welcome to hang out in the cafe during the sessions or watch the skateboarders from the viewing balcony. To book places, contact email@example.com, 07429 826053. Part of the SEND Community Offer.
Social club for visually impaired 18+: The Sight Loss Social is a friendly group of visually impaired young people over the age of 18 who meet on the first Thursday of each month 1.30-3.30pm to chat and organise interesting stuff. They meet at the Creative Together Centre, ground floor courtyard, 20 Swan Street, M4 5JW. Go through gateway next to HQ Barbers and opposite Band on the Wall. Phone for assistance on 07966 286217, email firstname.lastname@example.org. One level access and disabled toilet.
Having their say
The Changemakers at GMYN: Manchester Changemakers invites young people aged 14 to 25 with SEND to join them. They meet every Thursday evening from 5-7pm in the city centre. The group makes sure young disabled people’s voices are heard across Manchester. This might be through youth-led campaigns and projects, advocating for inclusive services in the community, and sharing opinions with decision makers, including Manchester City Council. It is a wonderful way of meeting new people, developing skills, and trying new things. The sessions are at Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN), Greenfish Resource Centre on Oldham Street. Travel to and from sessions can be supported in a number of ways. Contact Luke at Greater Manchester Youth Network on 07592 845246, email@example.com.
Youth Community Collective: Scope’s Youth Community Collective is looking for young people aged 18-25 living in Manchester who want to create a better community for disabled people. It is open to disabled and non-disabled young people and is an opportunity to choose challenges in the local community and be supported by Scope in helping bring about change. Sign up to events by registering online. For more information, contact Ben Hodge, 07793 658773, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support from organisations
Autism Understood: Autism Understood is a website created by Spectrum Gaming in co-production with lots of autistic young people. When young people are told they are autistic, they are rarely told what this actually means. There is also a lot of online misinformation about autism. Autism Understood fills in the gaps. The idea is that all autistic young people should be offered access to this site to help them make sense of their diagnosis. Even though it’s designed for young people, it is also useful for parents and professionals and anyone who wants to learn more about the lived experience of autism.
LOOK support: National Charity LOOK are on a mission to support young visually impaired people and their families to thrive. They do this through mentoring, transformational events, youth forums and parent support groups. Learn more on the LOOK website.
Support for deaf young people: Manchester Deaf Centre has a Children's and Young People's Service, welcoming Deaf, Hard of hearing and Deafblind children and young people, as well as children of deaf adults (CODA) and those who have deaf siblings. Contact them to see what is currently on offer.
Website for deaf young people: The National Deaf Children's Society's website The Buzz is the only website for deaf young people aged 8 to 18 in the UK. It is a safe, online space created by deaf young people for deaf young people.
Travel, including free Travel Training
Our Pass: Our Pass offers eligible 16–18 year olds free bus travel on most local bus services across Greater Manchester, making it easier to access education, work, training, culture and leisure in the city-region. Our Pass also provides access to a range of exclusive offers, discounts and experiences.
Travel Training - free programme: Our free A-Z Travel Training Programme offers opportunities for young people to gain confidence and independence in travelling around Manchester and beyond. It is for young people with SEND aged 14-25 who live in the Manchester City Council area, offering one-to-one support in accessing leisure activities. That might be the cinema, going to the shops or meeting up with a friend. There will be up to six sessions, each session lasting around three hours, depending on where the young person wants to go. They will also get useful information, e.g. travel cards, CEA cards and Our Pass. To find out more or to register, contact Olivia at Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN) at email@example.com, 07708 028312.