Social and community life for young people with SEND

Having friends, relationships and being part of your local community are vital things for most people.

This section of the Local Offer sets out what support is out there to help young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) maintain friendships and relationships, as well as being a part of local services.

Two young people having lunch

This section also includes information about having a good social life and taking an active role in the local community (such as music, going to the pub, faith groups and other events).

You can search our directory for services to help young people with social and community life.

Friends and relationships

Many people develop friendships at school or by meeting people with similar interests at local activities.

Mostly, this doesn’t need any direct input from the council as people can do this themselves or with support from their family. Some people do need support to maintain friendships and to make new friends.

The support given by adult social care can enable people to make friends through using day services or community activities.

Over the next few years we want to look at other ways of developing friend groups. There are good examples of how this works in other parts of the country (for example, in Dorset) and we want to do something similar in Southampton.

Your local community

Everyone has the right to access things in their local community such as libraries, sport & leisure activities and community centres.

We know that there are barriers for some people to access these which might include:

  • Difficulties with getting into and around the building
  • A lack of accessible facilities in the building
  • Staff awareness of disabilities
  • The need for 1:1 support

All organisations have a duty under the Equality Act to make Reasonable Adjustments to their service so that disabled people can access.

The type of adjustments needed will vary for each service but could include things like:

  • Staff awareness training
  • Installing ramps
  • Improving signs
  • Creating easy-read information
  • Increasing staffing levels

We know that there are some really good services in the city which do make reasonable adjustments but we also know that more needs to be done.

This is a gap that we will address over the next few years by speaking with organisations and working with them to improve their service offer.

Improving local services

In Southampton we want to make sure that local services are safe and deliver to a high standard.

This includes council and NHS services as well as charities and private companies who run services. One of the best ways to do this is to listen to the people who use the services and their families.

We want to hear from people who have had a good and bad experience and find out what could be improved in the future.

There are a few ways to get involved with improving local services:

Speak to the service directly

Many organisations ask for feedback so you could complete a survey or be part of a focus group.

Speak to a social worker or other professional

If you have a concern about a service, they will be able to share this information and find out what has gone wrong.

Join the Busy People group

Busy People is organised and run by people with disabilities. The group discuss local services and give feedback on council and NHS future plans.

The group also takes part in the ‘Learning Disability Partnership Board’ where issues and updates on Learning Disability services are discussed.

Speak to the Southampton Parent Carer forum

The Southampton Parent Carer forum is a group of parent carers who have children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged 0 to 25 years.

They support and train parent carers to enable them to have input and be involved in shaping services with the people who provide health, education and social care.

Safer Places scheme

The Safer Places scheme was created to provide a safe place for any vulnerable person to ask for help when out in the community. This includes people with a learning disability or autism.

Local shops and businesses can register to become ‘Safer Places’. They will display a sticker in their window and agree to offer support if someone is lost or feeling vulnerable. People can complete a card with contact details for a parent or carer and show it to people in the shop to ask for help.

Help with transport

This helpful easy read transport guide is designed to help those with learning disabilities travel around Southampton. It includes information about planning your journey, using public transport and staying safe.

Group of young people looking at the sunset