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Online event aims to help young people with special needs take their next steps

All next week (5-9 October) Cumbria County Council and local NHS partners are hosting a new online event aimed at young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) aged 11+ and their families.

The Preparation for Adulthood Virtual Fair builds on the success last year’s fair in Penrith which was attended by over 250 people. But due to COVID-19 restrictions this year the fair is moving online.

The fair website is live at https://cumbria.gov.uk/preparationforadulthood/webinars.asp with details of the webinar programme to help people plan their week. Further content will ‘go live’ when the fair launches on 5 October.

For young people with SEND the transition into the adult world can have additional challenges. Next week’s fair will include a wealth of information and advice to help young people and their families plan – including a series of free online webinars throughout the week from key support services.

The aim of the fair is to help young people and their families get the information they need to help them achieve the best possible outcomes and to maximise their independence, choice and control as they move into adulthood.

Dan Barton, Assistant Director for Education and Skills at Cumbria County Council, said: “Supporting young people with SEND make a successful transition into adulthood is a top priority for us and something we know is a big concern for them too. That’s why helping them understand the range of advice, guidance and support available is so important.

“We can’t hold a physical event this year which is frustrating, but the virtual fair is shaping up to be an excellent alternative. We have a wide range of organisations taking part, which is fantastic, including delivering live webinars where young people and their families can hear direct and ask questions.

“I’d really encourage young people and their families to have a look at the website now, see what’s on through the week and get the webinars in their diaries.”

Dr Amanda Boardman, clinical lead for learning disability for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Understanding the roles of different health organisations can be very confusing, particularly at a time of life when lots of other changes are happening. So the more we can do to help young people understand what their options are, the better the outcomes for them are likely to be.

“This is why the online transition fair can help them and their families understand how things will change for them as they move to adult services and gives a vital opportunity to ask all the questions they need.”

Julia Westaway, Population Health and Children’s System Senior Manager for Morecambe Bay CCG, added: “We know that moving on from children’s services can be a really tricky time for young people and families can find it worrying. This is why we hope that our online event will give you all the support and advice that you need to take your next steps.

“Last year’s SEND transition fair was a fantastic event that helped lots of families and although it is a shame that we can’t do it in the same way this year we hope that because it is online, even more young people are able to take part along with their families to see what information, help and support is available to them.”

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