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 - 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: Relaxation and self-care - Tuesday 23rd February 7.15pm
Mindfulness: Mind and body relaxation - Tuesday 2nd March 7.15pm
Wellbeing: Managing anxiety - Tuesday 9th March 7.15pm
Mindfulness: Go with life’s flow - Tuesday 16th March 7.15pm
Wellbeing: Managing low mood - Tuesday 23rd March 7.15pm
Mindfulness: Mood changing exercises - Tuesday 30th March 7.15pm

Making Sense of Sensory Processing Difficulties

Tuesday 2nd March 10.30am

Find out about different sensory processing difficulties in each of the eight sensory systems and learn about ways to help your child/young person.

Making Sense of Education Health Care Needs Assessments and Plans

Tuesday 16th March 10.30am

Providing an overview of the EHC needs assessment and what a good EHCP should contain, including requesting an assessment and reviewing an existing plan.

Making Sense of It All - Foundation Course

Wednesday 10th, 17th & 24th March 10.30am – 12.30pm

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.

Making Sense of Adult Life - Supporting Adolescents (11+) *NEW*

Wednesday 31st March 7.30pm

A new workshop looking at what to expect in adolescence and how you can support your child through the transition to adulthood. Covering topics including puberty, relationships, managing emotions and social skills.

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.

4th February - 10.30 am – 12 noon
11th February - 7.30 pm – 9 pm


25th February - 10.30 am – 12 noon
4th March - 7.30 pm – 9 pm
11th March - 10.30 am – 12 noon
18th March - 10.30 am – 12 noon
25th March - 7.30 pm – 9 pm
1st April - 10.30 am – 12 noon

Easter holiday

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

Spring Training Timetable (Published December 2020)

We are delighted to present our new training timetable for Spring 2021 (see flyers). As well as some of our most popular stand alone workshops we will be repeating our very 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
Spring 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