In 2011 nine of the leading charities in the disability sector decided to start working in partnership in order to collaborate on the development of new products and services, to meet the growing and changing needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families. The SEND Consortium believed that together they could influence the development more effective and efficient services for families.
With a grant from the Department of Health and the Department of Education, and a lot of research into what families needed, the concept of SENDirect was born.
With a small but highly experienced (and devoted!) team, the project really got going in 2013. Every aspect of the design, content and capabilites of the SENDirect website were discussed with families and professionals. Co-production - that is working together with the people who were actually going to use the website - has been at the heart of everything we have done.
Our idea is simple: we want families to be able to find the activities and support that suit their interests, preferences, lifestyle and budget, and that can make adjustments to support any additional needs they have. And we want it to be easy. Finding the right afterschool club, holiday cottage, personal assistant or childcare shouldn’t be a full time job – but parents tell us it is. SENDirect wants to change this forever.
SENDirect will revolutionise the way services for children with additional needs are created. We will do this by putting families and proper evidence of what they need, as they need it, at the heart of everything.
We will make it easier for organisations to promote their services directly to families and for them to understand exactly what it is families need so they can create new and different services for them.
SENDirect launched in January 2015. The online service allows parents and professionals to:
- see what choices are available to them, how much things cost and what other people think of them
- get information about their legal rights
- look at guidance on how to tell if an activity or service might be worth trying for their child
- speak directly to activity providers about adapting services to suit their exact needs
- help create suitable new services where currently there are none
- shape and buy activities, support and equipment easily online