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Coronavirus/COVID-19 Local Offer Advice and Information

We know this is a very anxious time for SEND families in Manchester. We’ve pulled together some information that we hope will be of help to you.

If you have a question or there is a topic you would like us to cover in our bulletins during this difficult period, please get in touch. 


The Local Offer Team

Local Offer Virtual Drop In

Local Offer June Virtual Drop In 

We need to work in different ways at the moment, so our Local Offer Drop Ins will be virtual for now. 

The next Local Offer Drop In is on 24th of June 10am - 12noon.

See our Local Offer Drop In page for information on phone and social media contacts for this event.

IAS Manchester Helpline

IAS Manchester Helpline – Extended Hours

Due to the latest government instructions,  the service will now operate as follows until further notice: 

Monday to Friday  from 8.30 - 4.00 p.m when a named member of the team will be taking calls on 0161 2098356 and also checking the parent in box.

Outside of these hours there is no answer

machine operating so you are advised to email and this will be picked up on the next working day.  The team member on duty will answer calls and pass messages over to other team members as appropriate.

You are advised to contact just the named person for the day as some team members are on leave and so their mobiles will not be answered. You are still able though to use their emails if you already have a case ongoing.   

“If unable to get through on the helpline then leave a message and phone number to receive a call back”.       

 see the IAS Manchester page.

Closure of schools

Closure of schools

What age groups does this cover?

The changes cover children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges. This is for both state-funded and independent schools. Read more about school closures here

School Meal Vouchers – Healthy Meal Ideas

Bite Back 2030, has issued some great advice on how to feed kids at home on a budget. It includes useful info on how people whose children receive free school meals, can claim a £15 shopping voucher along with healthy meal ideas.

Guidance on Vulnerable Children and Young People

What is the definition of vulnerable children?

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those children and young people up to the age of 25 with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Read more information and guidance for vulnerable children and young people

The department of education have put together a list of online education resources for home education.

Education Health and Care Plans - Information for Parents and Carers

The Government’s coronavirus guidance is clear that for most children and young people, including those people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, it is safer to stay at home with their families during the current period.

For some children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), parents/carers and schools/colleges will decide that the needs of the child or young person can be best met if they continue to attend their education setting. The local authority is asking educational settings to work with parents/carers, health and care staff to assess whether your child should now attend school/college or whether it is still safest having their needs met at home. If you are not happy with the outcome of the assessment please speak to your child's school (and/or social worker) in the first instance. If you  need any further support contact Information, Advice and Support for advice on: 0161 209 8356 or by email:

Schools and colleges are providing learning and fun resources for children and young people to complete at home. If you do not have access to technology at home, please contact your school or college to ask if they can provide paper-based resources. 

There have been some queries from parents about where the money for EHCPs is going. The funding that schools and colleges receive is remaining the same. This includes the funding for EHCPs; this allows education settings to pay their staff  and continue to provide resources and support for all their students. As your son or daughter has an EHCP, the school, local authority and health service may not be able to deliver the exact provision described in the EHCP during this time, but we are required to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to support children and young people with EHCPs. If you feel your child needs more support, please contact the school, college or therapist to discuss. You can also discuss your concerns with the Information, Advice and Support Service.

We have asked schools, colleges and settings to make arrangements with families  to hold annual reviews of EHCPs by telephone or online, and to ensure that the views of children, young people and their parents or carers are central to these reviews.

The Statutory Assessment Team is continuing to deal with new requests for assessment and amendments of EHCPs. If your child is due to move from nursery to school, from primary to secondary, from school to college, or is making any other kind of transition, be assured that the Statutory Assessment Team is still carrying out consultations with education settings. It also continues to work with heads and SENCOs to make sure settings receive the information they need to be able to provide the right support for your child when they join them. If you have concerns, please contact the team on:

The Manchester Local Offer website has a wealth of information for young people with SEND and their parents or carers, including on short breaks, emotional wellbeing, benefits and money, as well as activities for children and young people to do at home. The team, working with Manchester Parent Carer Forum, Parent Champions and other partners, is continuing to run Local Offer drop-ins, but online and by phone rather than face to face.

Short Breaks guidance for parents and carers relating to COVID-19

Government guidance is very clear that children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities should stay at home with their families during the current period, where it is safer for them to do so. 


For some children with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs), parents and schools will decide that the child or young person’s needs can be met best if they continue to attend school.  The Local Authority is working with schools, early years settings and colleges to make sure that all children and young people who need to attend, are able to attend. Children who may need to attend school include those who have EHCPs, other vulnerabilities, and those whose parents are key workers,


Government guidance recommends that households stay at home for most of the day except for a maximum hour a day exercising or shopping. It also recommends social distancing - keeping a distance of 2 meters from people who are not part of the household.  This means that families should not be having visitors who are not part of their household.


A very small number of families have children with significant support needs that are usually met through a short breaks provider coming into the home.  This might be to help the parent by providing sitting services or personal care for the child/young person. Other families may receive support from a provider to take the child/young person out of the home to access community activities.


During this unprecedented time, the local authority is advising parents/carers to consider whether it is absolutely necessary to their own and their child’s needs to have a short breaks provider visiting their home. 


If this is necessary to keep the child safe and to prevent carer burnout, the Well Child charity has produced some useful advice on how to manage carers coming to the home:


The charity also has some advice on keeping children with complex needs safe at this time:


If it is essential for a child’s wellbeing that they continue to be taken out of the home by a befriending service provider, both the child and provider should follow government guidance on handwashing and social distancing.  The provider should ensure the child/young person is only out of the house for the one hour a day permitted and is kept away from crowded areas to allow for social distancing. The worker should avoid taking the child on public transport.


If any member of the household or the service provider suspects they have the virus, they should immediately self-isolate and follow all government health guidance.


The local authority is working with short breaks providers to make sure they can stay in business and continue to provide their usual short breaks services to families once the Coronavirus emergency is over.


Overnight short breaks

The vast majority of disabled children are safest staying within their own household.  Children and young people who receive a residential overnight short break can continue to do so only if the parent/social worker and provider agree that the child/young person will be safer continuing to receive this than being looked after full time at home.



Frequently Asked Questions.


Can we still have the targeted direct payment for a befriender during these times?

In the current circumstances we can’t agree to you using your direct payment for a befriender unless there are exceptional reasons, however we will support you to look at other ways this payment could be used. You could bank your hours and use them later in the year to pay for a befriender, or you could use your money to buy equipment for your child to use at home to keep them occupied or help them get some exercise, while you get a break.


Ideas for using your direct payment: what about a television subscription, equipment such as games, sensory toys, I pads, 3D Virtual stuff, big tent for the garden / indoors, cookery equipment, indoor mini gym equipment.

These are just some ideas, if you are not sure what you can spend your money on, contact the Specialist Resource team 0161 219 2125 or your social worker. 


My child has a specialist short break payment can we still have this payment as my Personal Assistant says she is happy to carry on?

If the only way your child’s needs can be met is through help from a Personal Assistant, yes, as long as you are following Public health England guidance: 

Sessions may need to take place in the home. Also, look at the guidance from Well Child charity:


If my Personal Assistant is not happy to continue can I still pay them?

If you employ your own Personal Assistant, you could ask them if they are willing to bank the hours they normally provide for use later in the year.  You could pay your PA for the next month while you both review the situation.  The PA may be entitled to government support while they are not able to provide short breaks services to families:


The local authority is working with agencies that provide personal assistance and befriending services for families, to make sure they are able to continue offering services once the Coronavirus situation is over


Will my short break service still continue?

This will depend on the service you are receiving.   If your service provider is not able to operate at this current time we may consider a direct payment if appropriate to your family’s needs. For instance, if you normally receive a befriending service to take your child to the gym, we could look at providing a direct payment for play or exercise equipment that your child can use at home.

Alternatively, you could bank the hours you usually receive from the short breaks service and have them once life is back to normal.


If the child/young person is accessing school would this count as a short break offer rather than banking hours?

The local authority will be able offer a payment rather than a service or you could bank the hours until the current restrictions are lifted.


Many schools will be able to offer some support to children of key workers and vulnerable children, including disabled children over school holidays, so check with your child’s school as this may provide the break you need currently.


Can I use my direct payment to pay a member of my family?

The government guidance on minimising contact with people outside your household also applies to family members. It is especially important for older people, such as grandparents who are over 70 or who have underlying health conditions to stay and home. 

You could use your direct payment to buy play equipment which other members of the family who live in your household could use with your disabled child.


What about playschemes? If they are not running will there be an alternative?

Schools can continue to offer support to vulnerable children and children of key workers over school holidays. Speak to your school about what is available.


For most children who would usually attend a play scheme, but would be safer in the current situation staying at home, we will consider the use of direct payments as an alternative so families can buy appropriate play equipment.


I have overnight short breaks will these still continue?

The vast majority of children with significant health needs will be safer staying at home. If you feel you need to continue with overnight short breaks, speak to your social worker and the overnight provider. 


What help will I get through this time?


My child is bored at home. How can I keep them occupied?

All schools are sending out resources to pupils who are at home and putting resources on their websites. Manchester special schools are also sharing resources on their websites that are suitable for primary and secondary pupils with special educational needs. These include fun things you can do with your child, not just lessons.  There are links to Manchester’s schools on the Local Offer website.


Schools are also contacting all pupils who are at home at least weekly.


Encourage your child to keep in touch with their friends and relatives through phone calls or social media following the national on-line safety advice.


Other parents will also have great ideas to share about what activities they have tried - see the Local Offer for links:


I was due for a short breaks review - how will this now happen so I can continue to get short breaks support?

Your social worker or specialist resource team worker will contact you to arrange for your support to continue if you still need it until they can arrange for a proper review.  They may need to change the type of support you receive - for example, you may be given a direct payment, so you can buy play equipment.


I am on the waiting list to have my assessment for a short break - will this still be going ahead?

A member of staff from the Specialist Resource Team will contact you by phone or email to do a short breaks assessment. At the current time the only short break we can offer is a direct payment for play or ICT equipment to keep your son or daughter occupied at home.  We will support you to find a way of using a direct payment that best meets your family’s needs. Once services are operating normally again if you would like to change to a service you can request a review of your short breaks by contacting the Specialist Resource Team 0161 219 2125 or your social worker.

Emotional Wellbeing for Children, Young People, Parents and Carers

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families offers information on supporting young peoples mental health at times of disruption Read more

From the World Health Organisation, Helping Children Cope with Stress. Read more.


Cosmic Yoga and  Mindfulness...See more


Head Space, Meditation for Kids...See more


Young Minds Blog...Read more


Talking to your child about Coronavirus...Read more


Ten Tip From the Young Minds Parent Helpline...Read more


Information and top tips from the National Autistic Society...Read more


Mind have a range of support and advice for anyone struggling with anxiety. Read more


BBC offer information and advice on how to look after your mental health. Read more


Anxiety UK has a range of useful resources. Read more

Healthy School have put together some health and wellbeing challenges for Primary and Secondary.

Educational Psychology Helpline for parents/carers of children with an autism diagnosis from North, Central or South Manchester CAMHS

Need help with issues relating to educating your child/young person at home and responding to learning, behaviour, anxiety and mental health needs? Educational Psychology have a helpline offering problem-solving conversations to parents of children with SEND.

You can contact them on 0161 276 0118, Monday to Friday, 1pm - 3pm.

Educational Psychologists can also talk to parents about supporting children with bereavement and loss relating to Covid-19. You can contact them on 0161 276 0115, Monday to Friday, 9am–12 noon.

Information about Covid Virus for Children

The BBC Newsround site has a comprehensive section on coronavirus with text and video guidance focusing on tips if a child is worried, how to wash your hands, and what self isolation means. Read more


CDC offers full guidance on staying at home and staying away from others. Read more


Convibook is a resource in 18 different languages, explaining Covid 19 to children Read more and other related resources... read more


Carol Gray has produced a social story about coronavirus and pandemics. The social story uses large print pictures and provides contextual information about pandemics and viruses in general. Read more


Mencap has produced an Easy Read Guide to Covid 19. Read more


The Autism Educator has produced a social story, including social distancing and not being able to go to the usual places. Read more

Doctors of the World have put together the NHS Covid 19 advice and guidance in 34 different languages.Read more


One Education have produced some guidance about talking to children about Covid 19  Read more

Stuff To Do

Stuff To Do

Access Arts has many ideas and resources for children, young people and parents to use at home, while self isolating. Read more

GM Big Disability Survey about Covid. Read more

Sensory Dispensary offers lots of ideas about Sensory activities… Read more

Easy read online: making information easy.

Covid 19 Resources for families.

Sensory Stories Podcast by Pete Wells Read more

The Sensory Project has resources for sensory projects as well as simple games. Read more

Soundabout offers live online music sessions. Read more

Inclusive Teach offers a range of sensory activities. Read more

Clicker - accessible word processing. Read more

Music apps and interactive resources. Read more

Empowering Little Minds offer sensory and messy play activities for children with SEND. Read more

Ways to Learn Through Play. Read more

The Imagination Tree offers ideas for activities for very young children. Read more.

The Met Office offers a range of educational resources. Read more

RSPB offers a range of activities. Read more

Small Talk offer play and reading ideas for 0-5years Read more

Tiny Happy People offer activities to help babies and toddlers with communication. Read more 

Early Movers

Hungry Little Minds

World stories

Cbeebies Radio – Listening activities. Read more

Manchester Libraries Newsletter with loads of indoor activities included. Read more

Ted Ed – Stay Curious Read more

Twinkl - free home learning booklets from EYFS through to GCSE, you can download them here:


Oxford Owl - free e-books for ages 3-11, and range of how-to videos for maths. They also have a parents’ page which explains how spelling and grammar is taught in schools. If you ever wondered what a 'fronted adverbial' was, here's your chance to find out!

Discovery Education - English, Maths & Science activities for KS1 & KS2 and also a section on coding

BBC Bitesize - videos, quizzes and games covering the entire curriculum for primary, secondary and post-16 students


Topmarks - collection of educational games covering all topics

Theater - Educational online games

Chatterpack - a list of home Ed resources

Teachit Primary - resources and games to print for English, Maths, Science and Foundation subjects. Sign up for an account is required to download the free resources.

Teachit also has a range of resources for secondary school students. The website address is teachit + topic name e.g. English would be,


British Council – Resources for English language learning

Oxford Owl for Home - Primary

Smart videos for curious minds of all ages: The Kids Should See This

Crash Course – YouTube videos on many different topics


Phonics Teach your monster to read

Phonics Play - phonics games which follow the Letters & Sounds phonics programme. Pick the phase the child is currently on using the menu at the side. Phonics Play is currently free for all users during the school closure period. Username: march20 Password: home

Literacy Storyline Online - a catalogue of videos featuring celebrities reading children's stories

Unite for literacy - a US online library which provides free access to over 400 original picture books


Maths resources CoolMath4Kids - interactive games covering the four operations (+ - x ÷) and fractions


Pet Bingo - an app for practising the four operations, children get to earn pets and care for them 




Snappy Maths - maths worksheets for quick mental arithmetic sessions, like doubles & halves, number bonds and times tables


Science Science Museum Group - Videos, activities and facts on lots of different science topics for all key stages


Science for Kids - A New Zealand based site with lots of science experiments and games for kids

Switch Zoo - the idea started from creating new animals by switching parts, includes lots of information about habitats, biomes, feeding animals and animal sounds


Mystery Science Crest Awards – Science awards that can be completed at home


Virtual museum tours

Big History Project - Secondary


free online advice sessions - educating student(s) with Down syndrome at home and/or in school during the coronaviru pandemic.

National Geographic Kids - covering animals, science, history & geography, a website full of fascinating facts.

3D Geography - free paper templates for making models, plus lots of geography information and resources

Geography Games

National Geographic Kids – Activities and quizzes

Computing Tynker - marketed as 'coding for kids', this website is currently offering free access to its premium content - founders of the 'Hour of code' tutorials, this website offers computer science courses for students from reception through to A-level

 iDEA Awards - Digital award scheme that can be completed online

Computer programming 



Languages Duolingo - a free platform for learning languages. You can learn from a computer, or download the app.


Singing Hands on YouTube has videos of songs signed in Makaton. They will be doing live sessions on You Tube at 10.30am. Read more

Bumble bee physio London are doing live physio for children who are wheelchair users at 10am. Read more

David Walliams is releasing a free audio story everyday for 30 days Read more

Joe Wicks, TheBodyCoach, is running live PE sessions on You Tube every morning at 9am. Read more

Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children's books alongside creative illustrations. Read more

If your children are into animals and the natural world, National Geographic Kids on You Tube has lots of fantastic, interactive videos. Read more

Khan Academy Kids is an educational app for children aged two to seven. Animated characters guide children through educational materials. It's an American app but lots of relevant activities. Read more

Small Steps Independent Living Resource is a simple guide to teaching a few basic skills at home. It’s listed in our downloads.

Kidz to Adults Virtual Events. See more

The department of education have put together a list of online education resources for home education.

Manchester City Council Coronavirus Information - Including Benefits and Money

Manchester City Council Coronavirus Information 

Manchester City Council has a Coronavirus webpage with regularly updated information, including Health Advice, Benefits and Contacting the Council.


Other Council Coronavirus information is avaliable here - Benefits and money - Health advice - Contacting the Council - Virtual SEND Parent Drop In Sessions

Emergency Fund opens for Manchester’s unpaid carers

Family Fund

The Government today announced that the Family Fund will receive funding of £37.3m in 2020-21. This includes £10m which has been allocated to help families in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. More details can be found here:

 The Family Fund provides grants to families on low incomes who have disabilities or severe medical conditions. You can find out more about the Family Fund here:



Food banks in Manchester

Food banks in Manchester

Manchester City Council link for food banks.


Manchester Central food bank


Manchester South Central food bank


Greater Together Manchester - compressive list of food banks in Manchester


Most also do toiletries like soaps, sanitary products nappies etc.

School Meal Vouchers – Healthy Meal Ideas

Bite Back 2030, has issued some great advice on how to feed kids at home on a budget. It includes useful info on how people whose children receive free school meals, can claim a £15 shopping voucher along with healthy meal ideas.