Empowering families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities


New Faces

We are delighted to announce the arrival of three new faces to Reaching Families – Faye Mackenzie, who is joining as our new Training Co-ordinator, Justin Sainsbury and Luke Davies who have joined our board of trustees. All three have a diverse range of skills and experience to draw on and we are sure, will be valuable members of our team.

New Face-2-Face Befriender Training

Following the success of our Face-2-Face befriending project in supporting parent-carers of children who have been diagnosed or going through the diagnosis process, we are pleased announce a new online training course for parent-carers who would like become a befriender and support other families.

Our new six week course starts on the 17th March. It covers a range of subjects including:

  • Active listening
  • Verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Confidentiality and self disclosure
  • Empathy
  • Resilience and personal boundaries

At the end of the course we will carry out further safeguarding training and a DBS check, then begin matching you with a parent-carer who will benefit from your knowledge, skills and experience.

To book on to the course or have an informal chat about the project, please contact Rachel Fielding at rachel@reachingfamilies.org.uk or call her on 07535 386687. Please see accompanying flyer for further details.

Befriender Training - click to open PDF in new window

Experiences of children with special educational needs and disabilities and their families in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic

Following the survey we carried out in April on the impact of covid on families of children with SEND we were approached by Tizard Learning Disability Review at the University of Kent to write a piece to record the effects of the pandemic on the families we support.

The following article written in partnership with Stephen Kingdom from The Disabled Children’s Partnership provides a real time overview of the major challenges that have affected and continue to affect SEND families, including the speed at which some families reached crisis point, the struggle accessing education and providing home learning, the impact on mental health and the experiences of those families who enjoyed the relative peace and quiet of lockdown.

Coming up

Making Sense of Wellbeing

Part 1 - Resilience Skills
Tuesdays 7.15pm - 8.15pm

This six session course includes a blend of wellbeing and mindfulness workshops designed to help you enhance your relationship with your child with SEND, build resilience, reduce stress and help you to relax.

(Each session can be attended as a stand alone workshop, but we would encourage you to attend all if you are able to.)

Wellbeing: Active listening - Tuesday 20th April
Mindfulness: Listening to your inner experience - Tuesday 27th April
Wellbeing: Problem solving - Tuesday 4th May
Mindfulness: Finding peace in the storm - Tuesday 11th May
Wellbeing: Positive thinking - Tuesday 18th May
Mindfulness: You are not your thoughts - Tuesday 25th May

Making Sense of It All Foundation Course

Wednesday 28th April, 5th & 12th - May 7.30pm

This three-part course has been designed to provide an introduction to all the key issues and challenges common to parents and carers. It aims to empower parents of children who are undergoing or have recently undergone diagnosis but it will be helpful to any parents who would like to learn more about how SEND processes work.

Coming out of Lockdown: Strategies for Parent-Carers *NEW*

Thursday 29th April - 10.30am

Dealing with the Covid pandemic and lockdown has been a very real and added strain for most parent-carers and their families. In this workshop we will take time out to reflect on what’s happened and explore some practical ways for looking after ourselves and our families as we venture back into a busy world.

Making Sense of Disability Living Allowance

Wednesday 19th May - 10.30am

In this workshop we will cover how to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), how the system works, the various rates and what other relevant benefits are available.

Making Sense of Challenging Behaviour in Adolescence

Wednesday 26th May - 7.30pm

Exploring how your young person’s brain works, how hormones and puberty impact upon our children, how we can support them and respond to challenging behaviour to achieve positive outcomes.

Please visit Eventbrite to book your place.

Umbrellas Parent Support Group

Please join us and connect with other parents from the comfort of your own home at our weekly Zoom support groups.

22nd April - 10.30 am – 12 noon
29th April - 7.30 pm – 9 pm
6th May - 10.30 am – 12 noon
13th May - 10.30 am – 12 noon
20th May - 7.30 pm – 9 pm
27th May - 10.30 am – 12 noon

Please email Hannah for details of how to join: hannah@reachingfamilies.org.uk

Summer Training Timetable (Published March 2021)

We are delighted to present our new training timetable for Summer 2021 (see flyers). As well as our one off workshops will be repeating our popular new training courses - MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL (FOUNDATION COURSE) designed to help parents get a grounding in all things SEND and, MAKING SENSE OF WELLBEING, which aims to help parent-carers reduce stress, relax and build resilience.

Our courses have been designed with Covid in mind, and have been adapted to suit the current environment. ALL workshops are FREE OF CHARGE and delivered online via zoom. To book your place on any of our workshops please visit our training page.

Spring Training Schedule
Training Flyer

Making Sense of it All Foundation Course
MSOIA Foundation Course

Making Sense of Wellbeing flyer
Making Sense of Wellbeing

Reaching Families Coronavirus Survey (Published May 2020)


Reaching Families are pleased to present our report into the challenges faced by families of children with SEND during the coronavirus pandemic.

Our online survey of over 400 West Sussex families points to major challenges in parental exhaustion, mental health and wellbeing, homeschooling, shopping, and looking further ahead, preparing our children for returning to school.

We are using the findings from the report to adapt our services, share with local partners and urge central government to do more to support families of children with SEND during the course of the pandemic. Our grateful thanks to everyone who participated in the survey.

Guardian article (Published April 2020)


Please see an article published in The Guardian this week written by our Director Brian O’Hagan, making a powerful case to government that they need to provide more support to our families during the pandemic.

Photograph: Janine Wiedel Photolibrary/Alamy

Reaching Families: Coronavirus Action Plan
(Published March 2020)

Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic Reaching Families has cancelled its programme of activities for the summer term. This includes all of our support groups, training workshops, Face -2- Face befriending and group counselling. Once the current lockdown has been lifted we will look to restart all of the above work as soon as possible.

However, Reaching Families is not closing during the Coronavirus pandemic, in fact we expect to be busier than ever. The times we so suddenly find ourselves in requires us to reinvent how the organisation works, to use technology and creativity to reach families in need, to find new ways of ensuring parents and families stay connected. With that in mind we have developed a Coronavirus Action Plan that will ensure we can still deliver key service during these difficult times. Please see the accompanying poster for the broad outline of our plan. For more detailed information please visit our Stay Connected page.

Stay Safe
Stay Connected

Co-op Local Community Fund (Published February 2020)

Reaching Families has been chosen by the Co-op Local Community Fund to be one of their charity partners for 2020. Co-op members can choose to support Reaching Families every time they purchase Co-op branded goods, 1% of which you can opt to be donated to our charity. If you are not a Co-op member but would like to join please use the following link: https://coop.co.uk/membership.

Click on the logo below to view our Co-op Community Fund page:


Co-op Local Community Fund