Across the UK, organisations are taking part in Learning Disability Week, with the aim of raising awareness about important issues impacting individuals with a learning disability and fighting stigma and discrimination.
The week is organised by the national charity Mencap to celebrate and advocate for the 1.5 million people living with a learning disability across the UK, including 2.5% of children.
For over 10 years Children North East has been offering support specifically to help children and young people with special education needs, including those with a disability… from peer groups where they can find support and friendship to mentoring programmes offering a helping hand at key moments in their life, such as moving to independent living.
This Learning Disability Week we want to share some of the support currently available through Children North East making a difference for young people.
Sometimes adults just don’t get what it’s like to be a young person today. So, when it comes to dealing with some opportunities or challenges another young could be the perfect person to talk to and offer support. That is why we created our peer mentoring services.
Our peer mentoring programmes for young people with SEND cover a range of locations and, importantly, goals. It could be working to overcome a challenge in your life to having a friendly face as you’re joining a community activity.
Peer Mentor Robson Steele shares how this support worked for one of his mentees, “Ben* was referred to Youth Link because he lacked confidence talking to people and wouldn’t access public transport by himself which made him quite isolated. As part of the support, we travelled to the activities by bus and metro, which helped Ben gain confidence in travelling by himself. Gradually Ben became more chatty and outgoing, and now attends the FAB Group here at Children North East as well as taking up other hobbies”. You can read Ben and Robson’s story on our blog.
Browse our list of mentoring support available, or if you think you could make a difference as a Peer Mentor to a young person with SEND, learn more about how to get involved on our website.
Our longest running group for young people with SEND is the FAB (Fantastic and Brilliant) Group for young people aged 11 to 25. It was set up because we know some of the people best placed to share insights into things that could benefit young people with SEND are… other young people with SEND! Every month, the FAB Group come together to make friends, share experiences and exchange insights into support.
A few times a year, the FAB Group choose and visit a different place in Newcastle and then, after the visit, feedback as a group on their experience and how inclusive they felt it was, helping the venue to improve the experience they offer to other young people who have SEND. Previous visits have included BALTIC art gallery, the Centre for Life science centre and the city’s universities.
Other activities, chosen by FAB members, have included interviewing local musicians such as Joe McElderry and painting a mural at our allotment!
Learn more about our FAB Group.
The journey towards getting a diagnosis and the support which that unlocks can be a new and sometimes emotional experience. One of our newest projects, Masquer-Aid, is a peer support group for people who have recently found out they are neurodifferent or are waiting for a diagnosis. The group talk about shared experiences and explore themes such as mental health and friendship. Attendees can have 1-2-1 conversations with our expert team during the sessions. Aimed at 11 to 25 year olds, there are five different sessions each week across Newcastle and Gateshead including high-energy and chilled sessions, as well as one just for gamers!
Learn more about our Masquer-Aid Support Groups or browse other support groups run by the Children North East.
Do you think you, or someone your know, could benefit from the support offered by Children North East?
You can view a list of current support for young people with SEND available through Children North East on our dedicated webpage.
*Names have been changed for safeguarding reasons