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CONTACT NATIONAL HELPLINE

Contact helpline

Contact for families with disabled children run a free helpline for parents and carers who want to talk through their issues with one of their expert advisers.

If you’re thinking of calling the helpline, please take the time to read the information on this page first so you get the most out of your call.

WHO IS THE HELPLINE FOR?

Our helpline is for parents and carers in any part of the UK with a disabled child aged from birth to 25.

Your child can have any kind of disability or additional need, and you do not need to have a diagnosis.

WHO CONTACT CAN’T HELP

As it is a charity for families with disabled children, unfortunately the helpline doesn’t have the resources to help everyone. They are unable to support:

  • adults caring for adults over 25
  • young carers caring for people over 25
  • disabled adults
  • adults looking for information and advice on medical conditions and diagnosis – unless it is relevant to a child
  • parents of disabled children or young people living outside the UK – unless they are planning to return to or are relocating to the UK.

In the above situations Contact will signpost to alternative national helplines or websites where possible.

HOW CONTACT’S HELPLINE CAN HELP YOU

Contact understand that life with a disabled child often brings unique challenges. Helpline advisers can help you feel more confident and informed about tackling them.

They can give you advice, information and support about any concern or question you might have, including:

Getting a diagnosis and medical information

Contact can talk through how to get a diagnosis for your child. They also have reliable and trusted information on hundreds of conditions, including rare conditions. If you’d like them to, they’ll put you in touch with national  and local condition support groups and introduce you to our online community, where you can chat with families across the UK affected by the same condition.

Services your family might be entitled to

They’ll help you to understand how to ask the local authority for practical help and support for your family. This includes making requests for needs assessments and accessing short breaks.

Benefits and sources of financial help

They will help to find out what benefits you might be entitled to and identify other potential sources of financial help. Contact’s parent advisers can provide initial advice on your benefit entitlement. They will assess your situation and may offer you a telephone call back appointment with the specialist welfare rights team.

A call back appointment might be offered for a benefits calculation, advice on challenging a decision, or dealing with a change in your family, including:

  • where your child is going into hospital long term or residential accommodation
  • the effect on entitlements after separation from a spouse or partner or a partner joining the household
  • overpayments or underpayments of tax credits or benefit payments
  • benefit checks, due to a change in circumstance of the family e.g. increase or decrease in working hours
  • families with a child aged 16-19 who could claim benefits in their own right.

Support in the early years

They have access to a range of resources that can help, including information on behaviour, sleep and toileting. They can also help you to understand about your rights to free childcare and how to find childcare places in your area.

Special educational needs

Contact’s advisers can explain how special educational needs (SEN) are identified and assessed in England, and what to do if you’re not happy about the support your child is getting.

Contact’s education advisers can help:

  • if your child is struggling at nursery, school or college and you are not sure how to get the help and support your child needs
  • if you need help about transport to  school or college
  • if your child has health needs that affect their education or attendance at school
  • if your child with SEND has other difficulties in education, including exclusion, bullying or discrimination
  • they can also put you in touch with local sources of help and advice.

WHAT THE HELPLINE CANNOT DO

As a national UK-wide service, the helpline cannot help with the following:

  • providing legal advice
  • providing medical advice about treatments or second opinions
  • casework or representation at meetings and tribunals
  • filling in forms, checking paperwork or writing letters on your behalf
  • attending meetings at the school or with the local authority
  • providing funds or grants for items or holidays.

GETTING PREPARED FOR YOUR HELPLINE CALL

Demand for Contact’s helpline is high, so you may have to wait to speak to a parent adviser.

The busiest times of the day tend to be between 10am and 11.30am, lunchtime between 1pm and 2pm and between 4pm and 5pm.

It’s helpful to prepare for your call:

  • try to organise a quiet place where you can talk if possible
  • have a pen and paper to hand and any documents you wish to discuss
  • as your call may take up to 30 minutes, please set aside some time.

During the call you will share and Contact will ask you for personal information about you and your child. You can find out more about how Contact use the information they collect in their privacy policy.

As a result of your call, Contact may book you a call back appointment with one of their welfare rights advisers, or provide you with some follow up advice and information by email or post with your consent.

Your call is confidential – see our confidentiality procedure below.

FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND EMAIL QUERIES

If you’re contacting us through Facebook, Twitter or email, where possible please provide information such as the age of your child and the area you live in. This will help us to advise you better.

If your inquiry is particularly urgent, it is recommended that you call the helpline.

If you email the helpline for the first time or make contact on Facebook or Twitter with just your phone number, they cannot call you back. Please keep trying to call their free helpline or contact them directly on Facebook or Twitter, including details of your inquiry.

GETTING IN TOUCH WITH CONTACT’S HELPLINE

  • Freephone: 0808 808 3555
    9.30am-5pm, Monday-Friday, free from UK landlines and UK mobiles.
    Press 1, to speak to an education adviser, press 2 for all other helpline inquires.
    Access to interpreters from Language Line Solutions.
  • Facebook: facebook.com/contactfamilies
    (Response within two working days)
  • Twitter: @contactfamilies
    (Response within two working days)
  • Email: helpline@contact.org.uk
    (Response within 10 working days)

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