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Welcome To Manchester Local Offer




Welcome to Manchester Local Offer. This is an introduction to who we are and how we can support you, whether you are a parent carer, family member, or working in the city with families. We’re about all things SEND for children and young people up to the age of 25 – that’s special educational needs and disabilities. Use the menu on this page to find out more about us, including our drop ins, newsletter, and how to get involved. There's also guidance for new parent carers. 

Our SEND Information Hub

Our SEND Information Hub is a specialist resource with a menu in the following categories: Education, including EHC Plans; Information Advice & Support Manchester; Early Years; Short Breaks; Stuff To Do; Benefits, Household & Travel; Support From Organisations & Groups; Your Wellbeing; Young People; and Coronavirus Advice & Information.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Get in touch with our staff member Ali:, 07971 587963. Ali usually works all day Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, and will get in touch as soon as she can. You can also contact the Local Offer team.


Manchester Local Offer -, 0161 234 1946

Twitter: Manchester Local Offer @MCRLocalOffer, Website:


What is the Manchester Local Offer?


The Manchester Local Offer brings together information in one place. It helps children and young people with SEND up to the age of 25 and their parents understand what services and support they can expect locally. This includes their statutory entitlements which are required by law.  

We're a statutory service. Every local authority has a Local Offer, although they might look different in each area. In Manchester, we're a small team of three sitting within Children & Families in Manchester City Council. We are here for families living in the city of Manchester.

As well as this website, we have regular drop ins (virtual at the moment), a newsletter with the latest updates, and work with families to help improve services and what’s on offer. Every local authority has to talk with children and young people with SEND and their families to find out what sort of support and services they need. See more in the 'Get Involved & Have Your Say' section. 


Guidance For New Parent Carers


When you have a child with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND), it can be difficult to know where to start. There is so much information out there and you will probably wonder how best to navigate the SEND system. Having a child with SEND can affect all areas of your life; your day to day living, finances and family relationships, as well as your emotional wellbeing and the fun stuff.

The good news is, there’s a lot of support - it’s just knowing where to find it, which is why we’ve created this section. Just as importantly, it’s understanding that’s it’s okay to ask for help. By informing and educating yourself, you’ll be empowered to help your child or children live the best lives they can.


I think my child may have special needs – what do I do?

You could speak to your GP, the school or nursery teacher, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in the school or the school nurse. You can also contact Information Advice and Support Manchester.


How do I get a diagnosis?

Diagnosis is the formal process to identify a learning disability or other disabilities and conditions. It is usually given by a health professional and is often based on a child’s medical symptoms. A GP usually makes a diagnosis of a learning disability, but it is often parents or teachers who first become aware that a child is having difficulties in certain areas. Sometimes, it can be a struggle to get a diagnosis and some parents may never receive one. Mencap says: ‘It is, by and large, guess work. So, while you may feel that getting a diagnosis is something you would value, it is also essential to remember that nothing helps you understand your child’s needs better than your interactions with them.’ Mencap has helpful information on diagnosis here.


What assessments will my child need?

You can ask Manchester City Council to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an Educational, Health & Care Plan (EHC or EHCP). This is a legal document that sets out a child or young person’s special educational, health and social care needs. It describes the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support them to achieve what they want to in their life. Most young people with SEND will have their needs met without an EHC plan.

A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25. A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers and parents.

You can find more on EHCs in this Manchester City Council information and on the Government website


Will my child have to go to a special school?

Most children in Manchester with special educational needs and disabilities, including those with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, are supported in mainstream schools. You and Manchester City Council might decide a Special Educational Needs (SEN) school is the best way to support your child’s education. Your child will need an EHC to get into a special school. Parents and the young person can request particular schools and colleges. Find out more here.


Do I need to register my child with Manchester City Council?

Manchester City Council keeps a register of Disabled Children & Young People aged 0-19 years with disabilities or special educational needs. The Register aims to improve access and take up of services, and identify gaps in provision. There is no requirement to sign your child up to the register – it is up to you. Find out how to register your child here.

When you create your account, you can also sign up for the Parent Participation Register. To learn more about this, see the ‘Get Involved & Have Your Say’ section.


Does support end when my child is 18?

In most cases, support and services go up to the age of 25. That is certainly the case with us – we cover young people with SEND up to, and including, 25 years old.


How can the Manchester Local Offer help me?

We can help you understand what services and support you can expect locally, including statutory entitlements which are required by law. We have an online directory, regular drop ins (virtual at the moment), a newsletter with the latest SEND news and updates, and can work with you to help improve services and what’s on offer. You can find out about each of these in the other sections on this page. We also have our SEND Information Hub, with a breadth of resources around various topics, including Education, Stuff To Do, Benefits, Household & Travel and Your Wellbeing.

We encourage you to sign up to our regular newsletter. It’s where to get the latest news and updates relating to SEND families. It’s easy to subscribe and you’ll get the newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. Just email


Are there other parents to talk to & give me advice?

Experienced parents who know how to navigate their way around the SEND system are a great source of support and guidance. In Manchester, we are fortunate to have two groups of parent carers who make a big difference to SEND families:

Manchester Parent Champions

The Parent Champions offer support to other parent carers in the city through their Facebook page, where they share tips and have conversations about the things that affect their everyday lives. They work in partnership with the Council and staff in health and education settings to improve services and make life better for Manchester SEND families. Contact them through Facebook or see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Manchester Parent Carer Forum (MPCF)

As parent carers themselves, the Forum understands the day-to-day challenges. They share information through Facebook and their website. Like the Manchester Parent Champions, MPCF are there to give SEND families a voice and would welcome hearing about your experiences. You can become a member for free, using this online contact form.

If you prefer to contact either group by telephone, please let the Local Offer team know using the details at the top of this page and we will put you in touch. 

At a wider level, there are numerous parent carer groups around the UK. Some of these are around SEND in general, like Special Needs Jungle, or they are part of the offer from national groups - the Down’s Syndrome Association Facebook groups, for example. There are also local groups which you can search for on our database under keywords.


Am I a carer & what help can I get?

You might not think of yourself as a carer but recognising that you might be means you can access support, advice and guidance ('Am I a Carer?'). Carers Manchester is the first point of contact in the city for your questions, no matter how big or small. It’s a group of organisations working together to improve services for Manchester’s unpaid carers. Their Contact Point is 0161 543 8000, Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm except bank holidays, and 10am – 6pm on Wednesdays. You can also email at, fill in an online contact form or send a message through Facebook.


Are there organisations to support me?

There are many local and national organisations that can offer free support. You can find a list of some of them in our SEND Information Hub or search our database under a keyword. There are also organisations listed in our hub under specific topics, like benefits and finances, stuff to do, and your wellbeing.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch with our staff member Ali Davenport or the Local Offer Team - contact details at the top of this page.  

We encourage you to sign up to our regular newsletter for the latest updates on support available. It’s easy to subscribe and you’ll get the newsletter delivered straight to your inbox - email


What else might it be helpful for me to know about?

Take a look at our SEND Information Hub. You may find it helpful to know about Short Breaks and the service provided by the Information Advice & Support Manchester (IASM). There are sections around benefits and household matters, and stuff to do in the city with your family. There is also a section on your wellbeing and how you can get support, much of it free. It’s important to take care of yourself.


Our Monthly Drop Ins


Our monthly drop ins are an opportunity for parents, carers and young people to talk to a range of services for advice and information. There is also support from Manchester Parent Carers Forum and Manchester Parent Champions. These are parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities who understand the challenges people face.

We're returning to face to face drop ins in a rolling programme around the north, central and south areas of the city. Find the dates of forthcoming drop ins and information and contacts for the next drop in here.

If you subscribe to the newsletter, you will receive information a few days before each drop in with up to date information on who is taking part. Email and ask to be added to the newsletter list.


Our Newsletter


Our regular newsletter has all the latest news and updates relating to SEND families. This includes schools and education, finance and household, emotional wellbeing, and stuff to do. It’s the best way to find out what’s on offer for Manchester families. We also share ways you can have your say and help improve services.

It’s easy to subscribe and you’ll get the newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. Email

You can see a list of past newsletters here, with an idea of what is in each one.


Our SEND Information Hub


Our SEND Information Hub has resources in the following categories:

  • Education, including EHC Plans
  • Information Advice & Support Manchester
  • Short Breaks
  • Early Years
  • Stuff To Do
  • Benefits, Household & Travel
  • Support From Organisations & Groups
  • Your Wellbeing
  • Young People
  • Coronavirus Advice & Information

Please let us know if there is any topic not on the list that you would like information about.


Using Our Online Directory


You’ve told us that our online directory isn’t always easy to use. As an alternative, our SEND Information Hub may help you find what you need. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch with our staff member Ali Davenport or the Local Offer team using the contact details at the top of this page.


The Manchester Offer online directory has a huge range of information for SEND families in the city of Manchester. This includes education, health and social care, travel and transport, and stuff to do.  Services and events have their own page, or entry, which are categorised and put onto the database. You can search this database in different ways.

Start at this page.

How to search:

  • Using the boxes at the top of the page you can search by category, keywords and place name or postcode.
  • If you scroll down the page, you will see pictures with headings (eg. Health & Social Care, Education). If you click on these, you will see further headings with sub-categories (eg. Short Breaks & Other SEN support).
  • You also have the option of selecting age-ranges to search under by clicking the tabs.


If you offer support or services to children and young people with SEND in Manchester, would you like your service to be listed in the Local Offer? Find out more here and how take ownership of the record if your service is already listed.


Get Involved & Have Your Say


Did you know that you and your young person can have a say in the support and services you need? By sharing your experiences and working together with us and other organisations, we can make positive changes that benefit all SEND families in the city.


What do you want me to tell you about?

Anything and everything! Whatever matters to you. It might seem a small thing, but sometimes small changes can make a big difference.

It could be around:

  • Difficulties you are having in the education system
  • The type of leisure activities you’d like to see in your local area
  • Issues with public transport or access to activities
  • How we can improve the Local Offer


How do I share my experience?

Tell us directly - The simplest way is to tell us:, 0161 234 1946, or message us on Twitter - Manchester Local Offer @MCRLocalOffer. When we respond, we may ask you some questions to understand more about your experience. In some cases, and with your permission, we will pass your feedback on to a more relevant service or organisation.

Join our Participation Register – Information to follow. 

Share your story with a parents group - In Manchester, we’re fortunate to have two independent parent carer groups helping to make life better for SEND families in the city. They work in partnership with the Council and staff in health and education settings to improve services. You can contact both groups with a particular issue or concern. You are also welcome to join them to have more of a say on an on-going basis:

Manchester Parent Carer Forum (MPCF) This is the more formal group, funded through the Department of Education. It helps to shape and influence services in the city, making sure they are fit for purpose and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND and their families. Find out more on their website and become a member for free, using this online contact form or through Facebook.

The disabled children’s charity Contact has produced two short films about parent participation in forums:

Make a difference: Why I should join my local parent carer forum?

What is a parent carer forum and what do they do?

Manchester Parent Champions – These parents tell other parents about Manchester Local Offer and the help and support that’s out there. Contact them through their Facebook page to feed in your concerns and requests. If you are interested in becoming a parent champion, see these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

In two short videos (links needed), parent carers tell you about what they do as champions for Manchester Local Offer and what they get out of it, particularly friendships.

If you would prefer to speak to either group over the telephone, please contact the Local Offer Team using the details at the top of this page. 

Through our newsletter - We regularly share opportunities in our newsletter. These are pieces of work or surveys we are doing within the Local Offer or the Council, often in partnership with parent carer groups. We also share wider opportunities from the city, Greater Manchester and nationally. It’s a chance to help shape the development of services and strategies. Find out how to sign up to the newsletter here.


How can young people have their say?

The Changemakers are a group of young people in the city aged 13-25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). They meet regularly to share their views and those of their peers and influence services for other young people, while having fun and making new friends. They are supported by Greater Manchester Youth Network in partnership with Manchester City Council. The group welcomes Manchester young people who wish to join and make a difference - message the Greater Manchester Youth Network Facebook page or contact Joseph on 07592 845246,


How do I know I've helped to make a difference?

We tell you about this in various ways, including our regular newsletter, the Manchester Local Offer webpages and through parent carer groups. See the next section. 


What does co-production mean?

Co-production is an integral part of Manchester Local Offer. It isn’t just about listening to parents and young people, it’s working together to co-create and co-design what’s on offer. For example, parents came forward with creative and innovative ideas for our summer SEND community offer in 2020 and 2021.

In March 2018, we came together with Manchester Parent Carer Forum (MPCF), Manchester Parent Champions and many others from health, education, social care and voluntary groups to co-produce the SEND Co-production Charter. This highlights our shared values and principles and is a commitment from us all to make sure co-production underpins everything we do.

In July 2021, we produced this special edition of the newsletter for National Co-production Week. You can find out how parent carers and young people are having a say in the city.

Learn more in this article, ‘What co-production is and how to do it’.


How do I make a complaint about Manchester Local Offer?

If you are telling us about something for the first time, please give us the opportunity to put things right first. You can contact us by email at or calling 0161 234 1946. If you decide to go ahead and make a complaint, you can find more information and an online form here.


How You Are Having A Say


Here are some of the ways parent carers and young people are having their say to help make things better for SEND families in the city:

  • This presentation (to follow) shares information on the co-design of the SEND Summer Community Offer 2020 and feedback from the families who took part. There also videos from parents and a young person about the summer offer and life during the pandemic.
  • Co-production newsletters: In these special editions of the newsletter - July 2020 and July 2021 - we share the co-production work in the city.