Local advice & support organisations
There may be a number of local advice and support organisations in your area. Here are some ideas to help you.
Advice from the agencies below is usually free. Most will provide initial advice and information only, some may be able to write letters on your behalf or represent you at meeting or tribunals. You will need to check the service they provide when you get in touch and whether any charges apply.
Citizens Advice - UK
Citizens Advice have local advice centres in many areas of the UK. They can usually advise on a range of legal problems including debt, benefits, housing, employment and consumer problems. You can find details of your local Citizens Advice on their website.
Some local authorities in the UK operate welfare rights, money advice or housing advice services for families that live in their authority. There may also be a range of charities that provide advice locally. You can search for local agencies that advise on benefits, housing, jobs, legal issues and other practical help using the Turn2us search for an adviser tool.
See also our information about when you might seek legal support.
Law centres - England and Northern Ireland
Law centres offer legal advice, casework and representation to individuals and groups. They specialise in social welfare law, including welfare rights, disability rights, immigration and asylum, housing and homelessness, employment rights, community care, discrimination and debt.
Law Centres are independent and operate on a not-for-profit basis. They are also accountable to their communities, with local people acting on their management committees.
LawWorks - England and Wales
The LawWorks Clinics Network provides free initial advice on various areas of social welfare law including employment law, housing matters, consumer disputes, debt and welfare rights. The clinics are for people who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.
Visit the LawWorks website for more information.
Special educational needs
and disability (SEND)
Local Advice and Information Services (IASS)- England
Local authorities in England must provide Information, Advice and Support Services (IASS) to parents of disabled children and parents of disabled children with SEN.
The IASS service must be provided free of charge, be impartial and confidential. In some areas, local authorities will contract a local charity to provide the service, while others have an in-house service.
You can search for details of the IASS service in your area on the Council for Disabled Children's IASS network website.
There may be a local Carers Centre or support group in your local authority area. A Carers Centre may host support groups or provide advice on benefits and Carer's Assessments as well as run activities and social events.
You can search for a local Carers Centre on the Carers UK website.
Parent carer forums - England
A parent carer forum is a group of parents and carers of disabled children. Their aim is to make sure the services in their area meet the needs of disabled children and their families. You can find out more about parent carer forums in England, including how to get in touch with local forums, in our parent carer participation section.
Support groups - UK
Parent support groups are a great way to meet other parents for practical and emotional support. Most support groups are set up and run by parents and carers of children with additional needs. Some charities that support people with a particular diagnosis or condition may also run local or national support groups.
You can search for your child's condition on our website to see if there's a national support group.
Alternatively, you can visit the parent support group pages on our website to find out about local, non-condition specific groups.
For more information about getting local advice and support, get in contact with out helpline.
The Local Offer - England
The Children and Families Act requires all local authorities in England to publish and maintain a 'Local Offer'. A Local Offer is a wide range of information about all the support and facilities which families can expect to find in their area, for children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.
The information should cover education, health and social care support and services for children and young people aged between 0 and 25. The Local Offer is not a guarantee that a particular service will be available, but should be a useful guide to what you can expect to find in your area, and how you can access that service.
Visit your local authority's website to find their local offer.
Find local services (SENDirect)
The SENDirect website is our tool to help you find and compare accessible services and activities to meet the needs of your child.