Stuff To Do - Central Manchester
Here are some on-going activities in Central Manchester suitable for children and young people with SEND. If we've missed anything, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email Ali to sign up to our newsletter and find out about free activities in the school holidays as part of the SEND Community Offer.
For activities aimed at young people aged 18+, see the 'Young People (Up to 25)' section in The Local Offer SEND Information Hub.
- Arts & music
- General activities. inc. libraries & museums
- Learning through play
- Music-making & drama
- Physical activity - inc. cycling & swimming
- Youth Centres
You can also search for activities in your area through our online directory. Start at our main Local Offer page.
Creative Wellbeing: Manchester-based Starling has a programme of free creative wellbeing activities for neurodivergent young people. Contact them through the website to register and see what is currently available. Young people with a diagnosis and self-identifying welcome.
Music Centres: Manchester has a range of inclusive and open access music centres across the city – and they're free! There are seven centres, offering musical activities and pathways for all ages and abilities, including steelpan, Irish music and Eastern European music. Check out the My Hub website for venues and activities in the central area.
Open Door - Autism Friendly Sessions: Open Doors at Manchester Art Gallery is a series of creative workshops especially for autistic children and their families and carers. You can get hands on with a variety of making activities, explore the art gallery or just spend time together in the new children’s space, The Lion’s Den, or quiet room. Find out more here.
Quiet Sundays at The Whitworth: These are multi-sensory, open-ended family play sessions every last Sunday of the month at the Whitworth Art Gallery. They are designed for a quieter experience with children leading the way in their own time and at their own pace. Held in the School of Creativity space, they are free and there’s no need to book, just come along any time between 10.30am and 12.30pm. Find out more on The Whitworth website.
The Horsfall: The Horsfall, the creative programme of 42nd Street, has regular creative activities. Find out more on the website.
Birley Sustainable Trail: The Hulme area has a hidden gem - the sensory gardens at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Birley Campus. It has herb beds, fruit trees and a wetland area, plus educational information about the environment on the campus. It's free and you can wander around as you like! Just a short walk away is urban oasis Hulme Community Garden Centre.
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’s a great 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.
Children's Library: The Z-Arts Children’s Library in Hulme is a fantastic facility open to children across the city. It is home to lots of books that celebrate diversity and has been designed for families where there are disabilities and additional requirements. More on the Z-Arts website.
Culture In The City: Go to Visit Manchester to find information on museums, galleries and libraries, theatre performances and film, music and dance, and a special section with events just for families.
Donkey Sanctuary: The Donkey Sanctuary in Gorton is open to the public every Saturday and the first Sunday of each month. Entry is free but they welcome donations. The site and toilets are wheelchair accessible. Please book in advance through the website.
Libraries: There's a regular bulletin for children and families full of ideas and resources from Manchester Libraries and partners. Sign up here.
Loads To Do: Check out Loads To Do, a one-stop shop to finding out about culture, leisure and sports activities in the city and near you.
Manchester Deaf Centre: The centre has a number of activities for children and young people. There's the Sign and Play group for children aged 0–5 and their families every two weeks on a Tuesday. There’s also the I Can Youth Club for 11–16-year-olds and the I Can Get On project for 17–24-year-olds – find out more about these on the Centre’s website.
Museums & Galleries In The City: Check out each site for visitor information.
Open Doors at Manchester Art Gallery is a series of creative workshops especially for autistic children and their families and carers. Find out more here.
The National Football Museum have Relaxed mornings – Pre-Season Friendlys monthly on Sundays 9-10am. This time is ideal for neurodivergent adults and children Ad mission is free and there is no need to book – visitors can stay in the Museum once it opens fully at 10am. See the museum's What's On for more information.
Wellbeing Group: There’s a free activity group for young people aged 14-25 with SEND and SEMH (Social, Emotional & 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’s 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Lego Clubs: Central Library has a lego club. Ask your local library if they have one too. Playing with Lego develops creative thinking, fine motor skills, problem solving, and builds attention span. It's also fantastic for stress reduction and co-operative play.
Skateboarding & Music-making (Autumn 22): The free music-making and skateboarding sessions are back at Projekts skatepark near Piccadilly Station. It's 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. The sessions started on Friday 16th September and run throughout the autumn every Friday 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.
Football with Manchester United Foundation: Manchester United Foundation runs Ability Counts, a PAN-disability football programme for players with disabilities aged 5-25 and their friends and family, every Friday evening at The Cliff Training Ground in Broughton, Salford: 7.00-7.45pm, mixed group, ages 5-11; 7.00-7.45pm, girls only group, 7.45-8.30pm, mixed group, ages 12-16; 8.45-9.30pm, mixed group, ages 16-25. Find out more on the website.
Leisure In The City: Find out about leisure activities in the city on the MCRactive website.
ParaNetball Club: There's a free ParaNetball Club at Wright Robinson Sports College, Gorton on the first Saturday of every month, 10-11am. It's for young people aged between 9–25 with SEND. It’s being offered by the ParaNetball Programme set up through Dominoes Netball Club in 2021. It’s now supported by a partnership of Manchester Thunder and Vimto (Nichols Plc), meaning the monthly sessions will continue to be free. It’s for girls and boys and is fully inclusive. One of the coaches is deaf and able to offer additional support to anyone who is deaf or has a hearing impairment. Siblings welcome - although they won’t be able to take part in competitions. See the webpage for more information and how to book. The contact is Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Physical Activity Referral Service: Greater Manchester Physical Activity Referral Service (PARS) offer a free 10-week programme for children and young people aged 5-17, connecting them with inclusive sports and activities in their local neighbourhood. They can also provide your family with simple tips and advice on how to eat healthy and improve your lifestyle. They welcome children and young people with SEND who are identified as being above a healthy weight. Speak to a health professional at your GP practice, check out the website, or contact PARS for more information - email@example.com or 0161 511 0300.
Powerchair Football: Manchester United Foundation run weekly sessions at the Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse, open to wheelchair users of all ages. The session on Thursdays, 5-7pm, is for more advanced players, with access to their own powerchairs. Saturdays, 1-2pm, is the development session for beginners who have access to their own powerchairs. For more information see the Foundation’s website.
Simply Cycling: Simply Cycling run low-cost adapated bike sessions starting on the hour for 45 minutes at Longford Park. They also offer group and 1-to-1 rides.
Skateboarding & Music-making: These free music-making and skateboarding sessions are at Projekts skatepark near Piccadilly Station. It's 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 07429 826053. Part of the SEND Community Offer.
Swimming: There are inclusive swims at Moss Side Leisure Centre on Sundays 9-11.30am. These provide a calm environment and a clear process from entry to the pool for children and young people with special needs and disabilities. Families can access the small pool and floats for family fun or use the main pool for lane swimming. It’s the same price as the casual swimming. Book via the website, by visiting the leisure centre, or through the BetterUK App which can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Families can also turn up on the day but may miss out if the session is full.
There is free swimming for under 17s in the city during the school holidays - see the Manchester Active website.
HideOut Youth Zone - Gorton: There is a Sunday Club from 11am-3pm at the HideOut for young people who identify as having additional needs or a disability. Become a member here. You're welcome to contact Emily, the Inclusion Co-ordinator for a chat - email@example.com or call on 0161 511 3777.
Powerhouse - Moss Side: There is a youth club at Moss Side Powerhouse for young people with additional needs aged 10 to 25. This Is Us is on Tuesdays 5.30-7.30pm. It’s a safe space to develop social and emotional skills whilst having fun and includes sports, music, art, cooking and LEGO. Parent carers are asked to stay for an hour in the first session, completing a form which helps to set outcomes for their young person. Please let Andrea Nelson, the Youth Club Lead, know at least 48 hours in advance if you are coming for the first time - firstname.lastname@example.org.