SEND Community Alliance welcomes SEND charity, SOS!SEN as new member 1

SEND Community Alliance (SCA) are delighted to announce that SEND charity, SOS!SEN is joining the SCA steering group as a full member. 

SEND Community Alliance are a collaborative, founded in 2019 by the country’s three leading independent SEND groups; Special Needs Jungle Ltd (SNJ is a non-profit social enterprise), SEND National Crisis and SEND Action

SOS!SEN is a registered charity that provides advice, information and support to families of children and young people with disabilities, to help them secure the education they are legally entitled to. Its CEO, Eleanor Wright, is a qualified solicitor.

SCA leaders met virtually with Eleanor earlier in September, to discuss the objectives they have in common. They agreed their goals could be amplified by joining together.

Following the meeting, SCA joint leaders, Tania Tirraoro and Renata Blower of SNJ, Gillian Doherty of SEND Action, and Nadia Turki and Poppy Rose, of SEND National Crisis, extended an official invitation to join. Happily, after discussion with SOS!SEN Trustees, Eleanor accepted on behalf of the charity.

Eleanor will join Tania, Renata, Gill, Poppy and Nadia on the SCA Steering group, playing a full role in all decision-making and activity. 

The pandemic has amplified the fractures in the broken SEND system. SNJ’s survey published in July, revealed the disturbing extent of the difficulties experienced by families of children with SEND. Now schools are returning, many disabled children are finding they are not welcome back with their peers. This is an issue we are urgently researching and raising at a national level. 

In common with all SEND parents, over the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult for SCA to move ahead as quickly as they intended. Most of SCA’s members have one or more school-aged disabled children. The closure of schools has meant most of their available time, necessarily, had to be focused on home education. 

Eleanor Wright of SOS!SEN said, 

SOS!SEN are really delighted to be joining SEND Community Alliance.  We have always supported the objectives of the Alliance and its members, and we believe that the goals it pursues are more important than ever in order to support children and young people with SEN and disabilities.  Threats to the rights of those we support are, unfortunately, ever-growing and have been demonstrated even more starkly by the problems thrown up by the pandemic.  We believe that joining SCA will help us in working to counter that threat and also help us to continue to help and support parents, carers and young people.  My colleagues at SOS!SEN and I very much look forward to working with SCA”.

Special Needs Jungle’s co-directors, Tania Tirraoro and Renata Blower said, 

We’re thrilled Eleanor and SOS!SEN have come on board. We’ve long been admirers of the charity. Eleanor has a deep expertise in SEND law and SOS!SEN provides a vital service to parents who cannot afford legal fees. Nonetheless, their children have a right to the appropriate SEND provision. Eleanor is a strong voice for defending the SEND legal rights of families and we look forward to working with her over the coming months as we campaign to #fixSEND

Gillian Doherty of SEND Action said, 

We have immense respect for the work that Eleanor and the SOS!SEN team do to support children and young people with SEND and their families. We share their  commitment to upholding our children’s rights and improving accountability and are excited by the opportunity to work together at SCA to achieve this. As disabled children’s rights have come under increasing threat in the last 6 months, this work is more important than ever.”

The SEND National Crisis team commented

“Having had support from SOS!SEN in London and Surrey during our SEND Crisis campaign march last year and knowing the brilliant work they do in supporting SEND children and families across the UK, the SEND National Crisis team are really pleased to welcome Eleanor and her colleagues into SCA. With the wealth of knowledge the SOS!SEN team have in SEND law and advocacy, we really look forward to the continuing relationship to raise awareness of children's and families SEND rights and to continue the fight to #fixSEND.”

SEND Community Alliance is also open for individuals and related organisations to join as affiliated members. 

About SEND Community Alliance

SEND Community Alliance is an independent, family-led community of individuals, grassroots SEND groups and community organisations working together to improve SEND provision for children and young people with disabilities. It is equally led by campaign organisations, Special Needs Jungle (a CLG non-profit company), SEND Action and SEND National Crisis (both community groups). At present SCA is an unincorporated organisation, while more a formal structure is considered.

SCA wants to see a coherent national SEND system, underpinned by human rights and disability laws. SCA today welcomes a fourth member, SOS!SEN

About SOS!SEN 

SOS!SEN was started in 2002, initially as a small local support group operating primarily via a telephone helpline which soon became national covering all of England.  We support the families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities primarily in accessing the support which they require in education, and we do this mainly via the helpline, drop-in advice centres (currently being operated online), 1:1 meetings, parent workshops and webinars, and help in preparing important letters and documents.  We also publish advice information on our website, social media, and in the form of booklets.  We rely very substantially on the help and support of a wonderful group of volunteers, many of whom come to work with us after we have been able to support them to access the right help for their children.   

About Eleanor Wright, CEO of SOS!SEN

Eleanor is a solicitor who has specialised in Education Law for over twenty years.  She worked in private practice and under legal aid and was consistently acknowledged by the legal directories as a leader in the field.  She joined SOS!SEN in 2015.  Eleanor now has a wide range of responsibilities including developing policy, training and supervising volunteers, writing legal and other materials produced by the charity, representing the interests of the charity and those it supports in various contexts, and running workshops, webinars and similar events for parents and carers.  Additionally, she provides some individual support via meetings and other services offered by SOS!SEN.  She is a committee member with the Education Law Association, and co-authors Education Law updates for the Legal Action Group magazine.

About Special Needs Jungle Ltd

SNJ was founded in 2008 and became a non-profit company limited by guarantee in 2014. It is a volunteer website run by SEND parents, Tania Tirraoro and Renata Blower, that provides news, information, resources and informed articles and opinion about SEN, disability and children’s mental and physical health especially rare diseases. SNJ has up to 250,000 views a month and is the 2020 winner of the Your UK Parliament Volunteer of the Year Award and has been ranked as the No1 Healthcare blog by Vuelio for the last four years.

About SEND National Crisis

SEND National Crisis is an award-winning (ADHD Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award 2019) parent-led volunteer campaign group that has united disabled children and young people along with their families, professionals and other supporters around England and Wales, raising awareness of the national crisis in SEND education and demand that the Government acts to end the flawed system in funding and delivering education, health and social care provision.  

About SEND Action 

SEND Action was founded in 2018 when families who had been campaigning against local cuts to SEND provision came together to challenge this nationally. We are an independent grassroots organization committed to upholding the rights of children and young people with (SEND), raising awareness of the issues they face and improving accountability within the SEND system.

Editor’s Notes

  1. SCA website is at www.sendcommunityalliance.org.uk
  2. SNJ website is https://www.specialneedsjungle.com
  3. SEND National Crisis. https://sendcommunityalliance.org.uk/about-send-community-alliance/about-send-national-crisis/
  4. SEND Action: https://sendcommunityalliance.org.uk/about-send-community-alliance/about-send-action/
  5. SOS!SEN website is www.sossen.org.uk
  6. For SCA comment/interview contact team@sendcommunityalliance.org.uk
  7. For SOS!SEN comment/interview contact EleanorW@sossen.org.uk