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Hackney Ark: Information for parents during Covid-19 pandemic

Hackney Ark: Information for parents during Covid-19 pandemic

Information for parent-carers of children and young people with SEND during the Covid-19 pandemic

During the pandemic we have been keeping parent-carers and partners in education, health, social care and community services up to date with the many (many) goings on in the world of SEND.

These newsletters are collated to reassure parents and carers that we are looking out for them and their children and young people and that for us both SEND is our priority.

We hope that the return to school has been as smooth as possible for you all and that you are  beginning for find it easier to access services again as things start to open up.

Read on to find out about updates, opportunities and topical news.

Warmest wishes,
Ella Hackney Local Offer Coordinator
Sarah Hackney Ark Resource Center Coordinator


CAMHS COVID-19 service update from Hackney Ark

  • All services are running including ASD assessments and treatments.
  • Early intervention and parent support groups are online including ASD coffee mornings.
  • The service is working with families by phone and online.
  • Face to face appointments are offered when necessary.
  • We are accepting all referrals for children with moderate to profound disabilities and our usual service criteria applies. This includes self referrals.

Contact number: 02070147135


The CAMHS Alliance service directory 2020-2021 (pdf) has been updated on Hackney’s Local Offer website.

This short leaflet helpfully identifies sources of support for those experiencing different levels of difficulty and includes current contact numbers for a range of eventualities.

City and Hackney Child and Adolescent Mental Health Support Pathways during COVID-19 restrictions 

City  Hackney CAMHS – Getting Help during COVID-19 restrictions (information, resources and links)

For crisis support families can call: 0208432 8020

CAMHS Autism coffee morning goes virtual

Previously held at Hackney Ark, the Autism coffee morning will now be held online. These are 1 hour session run by the Occupational Therapy team with support from a psychology assistant from the CAMHS team and are aimed at parents and carers who want to meet other parents of children with autism, want to share their experiences with other parents and hear about theirs, and want to hear ideas on how to help their child.
The pilot will run 2 separate sessions.

Session One: 10am-11am

  • This session  will be facilitated by an Occupational Therapist, with a focus on developing independence skills and sensory issues which impact on their development.
  • If you have a concern or challenge in this area, please book onto this session.

Session Two: 11.30am – 12.30pm

  • This session facilitated by one of the clinical psychologists at Hackney Ark, will focus on managing emotions and supporting with issues around behaviour.
  • There will be opportunities for parents to share experiences of supporting their children through lockdown and discuss some practical strategies to support them now they are back in school.

Who can book onto the sessions? 

The sessions are open to parents of children with autism who are known to Hackney Ark Services.

Places are limited for this pilot and will be offered on a first come first served basis.

How will I access the session? 

When you book online for the session you will be asked to enter your e-mail.

The day before the session a link to Microsoft Teams will be sent to all the people who successfully registered.

How do I book onto a session?

Both session take place on the morning of Wednesday 30th September.

Please book on the session you want to attend using the following links.

Virtual Autism Coffee Morning – Session Two  11:30 – 12:30 – Hackney Ark CAMHS Clinical Psychology session 


Hackney Learning Trust’s new name –  Hackney Education

Hackney Learning Trust  department name changes to Hackney Education effective from Tuesday, 1 September 2020.

“This is an exciting time to strengthen and enhance the existing excellent working relationship we have across other departments in the council to benefit children and families in Hackney.

These connections are particularly important as the Council continues to deal with the many challenges presented by COVID-19.

The focus of Hackney Education remains firmly on education and improving the life chance of every child, young person and learner in Hackney. The strength of the relationships we have across other departments enhances this and the services we offer to schools, settings, children and families.”

Annie Gammon – Director of Education – Hackney Education

The publications you may get from us will have a new look and feel to be aligned with other council departments.

Our website address has changed. This change took effect from Friday, 21 August 2020.
Please note that all links to the current website will automatically re-direct to the home page of the new address.
The change is in the display address, rather than the website.
The web adress  has now changed to

You may also notice over the next couple of months that education staff email addresses are changing to Re-direct emails are in place so for sometime to come emails addressed to (name) will still be received by the intended service or service provider.

This change aligns Hackney Education with other council colleagues and departments providing clarity for residents and stakeholders that we are part of Hackney Council.

Please note: As Hackney Learning Trust was an internal department name, this has no impact on any legal agreements or contracts as these are already held by Hackney Council.


Nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) is a membership charity organisation that supports all education practitioners. They provide: Continuing Professional Development (CPD), resources, advice, information and much more to enable all support staff and staff in settings to meet the needs of all their pupils.
From January 4th, 2021, nasen membership will be free for all individuals across the UK.
nasen’s new free membership will replace the current tiered model (which also offers a free option), to ensure the organisation’s expertise in SEND is available to every school and setting across the UK.

Nasen – free Resilience development pack

As part of it’s offer nasen provide excellent mini guides and information packs for parents to use or share with those working with their children.  They have developed a new  ‘7 Days, Many Ways – working together to build resilience through relationships’ free resource.

The pack includes a set of 14 fun activities for parents to do with children and 14 related activities for practitioners to carry out in their setting. These activities aim to build resilience through relationships for children’s transition back into settings during these continuing uncertain times.

Download it for FREE here:


Virtual Makaton classes

Makaton workshops for parents have gone online. The course is for parents and carers of children or young people who will benefit from using Makaton to develop their communication.

Their child may have additional needs or a communication difficulty, or be known to services at the Hackney Ark or Portage.

Classes will be run on Fridays 6th, 13th, 20thand 27th November
Time: 9.30am -12.30pm

There are only 8 spaces available but there will be another course starting in March 2021

To book a place please contact the Speech and Language admin team on 020 7683 4262
or email 

Do you or someone you know need help to develop digital skills? 

Hackney Council and it’s partners are keen to support people who need to develop their digital skills. To help with this some short how to videos have been created on everything from setting up your wi-fi connectionJoining a Zoom meeting (with language options), Setting up a Zoom meeting, Message and call with WhatsApp, Join a meeting or event on Google Meet, How to Instagram, Join a GP’s group consultation on Microsoft Teams, Supermarket shopping online and more.

Each short video walks you through how to complete each task online. A digital buddies scheme has been set up to partner those who need more support with a young person who wants to support someone to develop these useful skills.

Watch the walk through videos on digital skills here.


Contact – updated COVID related benefits advice 

Contact’s updated DLA and PIP guides now explain what happens to DLA and PIP renewals during the coronavirus pandemic and what parents should do if they’re not sure what’s happening with their child’s claim.

Both guides will help parent carers make sense of the rules for claiming these essential benefits  – there to help with the extra costs of caring for a disabled child – and include hints, tips and suggestions on how to make the best application and answer the questions on the forms.

In addition, Contact has also updated its factsheet on claiming Universal Credit (UC) for a young disabled person. A young person turning 16 may have the option of claiming UC in their own right as a young disabled adult. However, if a young disabled person chooses to claim UC this can affect the benefits that parent carers receive.

Their factsheet explains these rules in detail, and includes information on how a young person might qualify if they’ve not paid national insurance contributions, what assessments they may have to undergo, and what to do if there’s a lengthy delay.

All of Contact’s guides are free to download from their website, or you can call Contact’s helpline and ask them to send you a copy.

Watch Contact’s webinar on benefits for young people aged 16 and above.


Family Fund – additional funding during the Covid pandemic 

Family Fund, a well established national charity, have been providing extra support for families during the Covid-19 lockdown.  The offer grants for respite care, sensory equipment, computers and tablets, kitchen appliances and outdoor play equipment.

If you are a parent or carer of a child or young person with additional support needs arising from a disability or disabling condition or with a serious or life limiting illness can apply for a Family Fund grant.

To start the application you will need evidence of your child’s DLA  (Disability Living Allowance) entitlement and evidence of any benefits the family already receives.

For more information or to apply online go to the Family Fund website
Contact Sarah at Hackney Ark Resource Centre if you need advice on applications.

Phone: 0207 014 7006


See, Hear, Respond Partnership

The See, Hear, Respond Partnership is a new service funded by the Department for Education. With your help, the See, Hear, Respond Partnership will quickly identify and support children, young people and families who are struggling to cope with the impacts of coronavirus.

Its aim is to provide early intervention before these children reach the threshold for statutory intervention. The service does not replace your usual referral process for children who meet a statutory threshold for significant harm: such referrals must be made to your local authority safeguarding team using your usual safeguarding procedures.

In Hackney this is F.A.S.T. First Access and Screening Team email and phone: 020 8356 5500

The See, Hear, Respond Partnership has been created specifically to help children and young people in England who are experiencing harm and increased adversity during coronavirus, by providing support to those who are not being seen by schools or other key agencies.

There is no minimum threshold for referral. They will support children from pre-birth up to 18 years of age and those with special educational needs under the age of 25.

Children, young people, families and professionals can find out about the service. how it can help, contact information and referral forms on Banardo’s website here.


Face coverings –  NHS exemption card toolkit.

The Disability Unit and Public Health England have developed a new face covering exemption toolkit which you can find here. This toolkit contains some useful visual cards and posters to raise awareness and inform others of an individual’s exemption from using coverings and their rights. There are also options to download a digital card onto a phone to show if you need to when you are out.

Other exemption cards are available but the version in the toolkit has the NHS logo and branding on.

If you need a hard copy print out of one of the exemption card and do not have access to a printer at home Sarah – Hackney Ark Resource Centre Coordinator can print and send you one.
Call 0207 014 7006  or email 

Young Hackney

Young Hackney’s term time youth, play and sports programmes started on 14th September.
Shoreditch Adventure Playground and Hackney Marsh Adventure Playground are offering a number of play sessions from Tuesday to Saturday. Young people will need to pre book and will be able to take part in self-led play activities as well as a number of clubs (bike club; yoga; fitness and wellbeing; board games club; arts, crafts and homework club and bushcraft).

Young Hackney’s Sports Unit continue to deliver their programme of community sports.

Young Hackney’s Outreach Team are also increasing the number of sessions they are able to deliver.

Find out more about activities and fun at the youth hubs on the Young Hackney website.


Short Breaks – Covid related flexibility –
Offer extended until December 31st 2020 

As families continue to experience the effects of the current pandemic, Hackney Short Breaks would like to offer eligible families an extension of the offer to use their Short breaks funding to buy equipment that promotes play and creativity which supports the development and stimulation of children and/or young people who would be accessing Short Breaks provision or Individual Budgets.

Read the latest full Short Breaks offer update here.


Gardening Therapy at Hackney City Farm

Join the Farm’s gardening group for adults experiencing significant challenges in their lives. We aim to help you form healthy relationships with nature and the people around us.
The project are looking for participants who want to join the group for 12 weeks,
starting Mondays from 5 October.
Activities will be coordinated by Hackney City Farm’s Volunteer Manager and a qualified psychotherapist from Gaia Therapy Project.
The activities will involve gardening, woodwork, conservation, talking and being outdoors. There will be space to share difficult emotional
and life experiences if people wish to, though this will never be an expectation or obligation.
If you or somebody you know is interested in joining the group or to find out more email:


Educational Psychology Service – Parent Advice Session

This is an opportunity to talk about your child/children with an educational psychologist for up to 30 minutes by phone. Talk through concerns, get suggestions for practical activities, request resources, signposting to other services.

The service will aim to answer your questions and generally helping you think about ways to support your child/children across a wide range of areas including:

• behaviour at home
• learning at home
• meeting your child’s special educational needs
• anxiety, well-being and mental health
• putting routines in place while your child is learning at home
• explaining the Corona virus and how to keep safe

Parent Advice Line: 020 8820 7519

Parents can book or call the Educational Psychology Service on

  • Wednesday mornings 10am – 12:30pm

Wednesday afternoons 2pm – 4.30pm


Hackney Local Offer website .

You can still find information on how to contact services for advice and support, helpful resources and advice and information and opportunities and activities on Hackney’s SEND Local Offer website. These pages are refreshed when new information is shared with us.