West Sussex County Council, working with parent carers, young people and officers from education, health and social care, developed the Pathways to Adulthood Strategy for young people between the ages of 16 – 25.
A fundamental part of this work was securing the views of young people with SEND, their families and those who work with them, on what this Strategy should focus on, what difference it should make to the lives of young people and their families, and how this difference should be achieved. To secure that input, the Council held a number of consultation events around the county. The information gathered was used to inform the final version of the Strategy and the plans (now being implemented) to help young people with SEND to achieve as much independence as possible and enjoy a successful transition into adult life.
The desire for choice came up again and again; choices in education, housing, employment, social activities.
Create choice – have real choices and things on offer
Opportunities – and access planning – to experience options and say yes, no, not sure!
The vision needs to capture individuality – one size does not fit all
Connected to this are concerns about provision, resources, and professionals not listening to the families or the young people.
There seems to be a lack of opportunities available to match the young person with something that interests them. Example given of a young man interested in and very good at machinery – keeps being forced into catering and horticulture which he does not like and has no interest in. Parent tired of fighting the college.
Appropriate provision and plenty of choice – need good advertising! There is not enough provision at the moment and choice / space is limited.
Youth Service provision is being cut completely in this area, partnership working is needed to pick this up.
Being shown how to cook healthy meals
Eating healthy food and learning about making meals
Shopping and money / budgeting
Manage their finances with support if needed
Being able to travel on my own – learning routes on public transport
Support to get to know new places – go with someone before I go on my own
Feeling confident to walk to places near me
Using the bus on my own
Connected to this is the concern that preparations for independent living should start earlier.
To be encouraged to think of and to prepare for their future
Prepare the planning early enough – including the EHCP
Transition needs to begin soon - 14
More focus on life skills and independence at a younger age
Young people, parent carers and professionals were all concerned about preparing for work and the lack of employment opportunities 13 references from young people who were keen to get a job
Getting a job so can learn and be able to work
Getting out of the house and having a job
Support and advice with CV and applying for jobs
Main focus should be on where the students want to be and how to get them there – a coherent progression into employment / adulthood
Increased opportunities in Y11 for work experience – and funding to back this up!
More support for young adults to access viable long-term employment. We have set up Jubilee Bakes to help young people develop employment skills and self-worth.
Job coaching and support with employment
You can change the education they receive but how will you change the workplace that needs to accommodate them? And to accept that people with SEN are able to do the job in the workplace?
What about a specialist recruitment agency to help young people with LD to find employment in “real” work?
Service providers/employers understanding lifelong conditions, eg understanding the communication characteristics associated with autism.
WSCC could be setting a good example in terms of offering more employment opportunities for young people with SEND
Some things that are already happening in West Sussex:
- Short Break provider PACSO – currently runs a ‘JOB Club’ with TESCO.
- Aldingbourne supports WSCC conferences e.g. SEND Reforms One Year On
- Aldingbourne runs the WSCC Durban House staff canteen
- Find it Out centres – Provide employment and training advice and support, including help with CVs, interview skills, employment / apprentice search
Concerns were raised about the need for choice in and information about housing options
Support to stay with my family if I want to
Important: to live by myself if I want to
Protect vulnerable people who are in supported living from being taken advantage of by peers
More information on housing options: what’s possible and how and when applications should be made.
Support for independent living – what does this look like post 26?
Housing: important to manage expectations of young people – what’s achievable and realisable.
How can we help young people with SEND to feel independent even if living with their family?
Having my young person living back in the local area, near his family
There were several concerns expressed about the transition to adult services, mostly by professionals.
What models are already working in Adult Services that could be used in Children Services before, so that they are already familiar with the forms used etc. Examples to look at – Understand Me, Access To Healthcare Group
Need to help young people to prepare for what happens when they become an adult, eg in terms of expectations around health – going to the GP
Annual review needs to be preparing young people for adulthood
Young people themselves are very concerned about keeping healthy and safe, having a network of friends and having the support to help them be independent.
Not eating a lot of junk food
Having a friend to go to the gym with
Local gym instructors – get to know their names (this was mentioned 4 times)
Not talking to strangers, people I don’t know
Living safely on my own in the future. Make sure I know how to lock doors. Turn the oven off after using it.
Making sure I take a shower and keep clean
Looking after myself at home
Some things that already exist in West Sussex:
Compass Card gives discounts for gyms / swimming
Barnardo’s Life Skills
Teen Gym with Southdown’s Leisure Gym for 14 – 18 year olds peer mentoring programme.
Impulse Leisure – Family fitness for the whole family - weekly sessions.
Schools teaching of PSHE, communicating and documenting it for future reference outside of school.
National Citizen Scheme and Duke of Edinburgh programs – outdoor fitness and voluntary work
Information about what services are available needs to be readily accessible and up to date, for both professionals and for parent carers / young people.
Know what services are available to keep themselves safe and health, eg GP, specialist dentist, mental health
Knowing where to get information – parents, research online, what a doctor can help you with, who to ask for help
Missing out through lack of information
There need to be more opportunities to promote provision so that it is clear to young people and parent carers what is available.
On a Saturday? In a central place – campus? Invite all parents of young people in Yr10 and Yr11.
Some things that already exist in West Sussex:
Sharing of information between Local Offer / Connect to Support / Your Space and main WSCC website
Sharing of information provided by voluntary services, e.g. the book called “Making Sense of It All” produced by Reaching Families
SEND Information, Advice and Support service has two Young People Advisors who provide support and information for children / young people +14.
SEND Information, Advice and Support and Reaching Families 2017 workshop ‘Making Sense of Transition’.
Find It Out Centres provide support and information for families.
Personal books and passports with Thumbs Up World