Our helpline

Get in touch via phone, email or social media for advice and support from our team. 

As well as our online information, we run an advice helpline for parents and carers with disabled children.

Please take the time to read the information on this page first so you know how we can help.

If you’re looking for emotional support, find out about our Listening Ear telephone support service.

In this article

Who is our helpline for?

Our helpline is for parents and carers in any part of the UK with a disabled child aged from birth to 25. 

Your child can have any kind of disability or additional need, and you do not need to have a diagnosis. 

Who we can’t help

As we are a charity for families with disabled children, unfortunately our helpline doesn’t have the resources to help everyone. We’re unable to support: 

In the above situations, we will signpost to alternative national helplines or websites where possible. 

How our helpline can help you

We understand that life with a disabled child often brings unique challenges. Our helpline advisers can help you feel more confident and informed about tackling them. 

We can give you advice, information and support about any concern or question you might have in the following areas.

Getting a diagnosis and medical information

We can talk through how to get a diagnosis for your child. We also have reliable and trusted information on hundreds of conditions, including rare conditions. If you’d like us to, we’ll put you in touch with national and local condition support groups and introduce you to our online community, where you can chat with families across the UK affected by the same condition.

Services your family might be entitled to

We’ll help you to understand how to ask the local authority for practical help and support for your family. This includes making requests for needs assessments and accessing short breaks. 

Benefits and sources of financial help 

We will help you to find out what benefits you might be entitled to and identify other potential sources of financial help. 

Our website contains information on all of the main benefits for disabled children and their parents. You can use our FAQs to help you find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about benefits for disabled children and their carers. You can also use our website to access the Turn2us benefits calculator or search for a local benefits adviser

Family Finances call-back appointments

If you’re calling to discuss your family’s finances, the parent advisers on our helpline can provide initial advice on the benefits you may be entitled to. They will assess your situation and may offer you a telephone call-back appointment with our specialist family finance team. 

A call back appointment might be offered where you have doubts about the accuracy of an online benefit calculation; where you need advice on challenging a benefits decision; or if you are dealing with a change in your family, including: 

  • A child is going into hospital long term or into residential accommodation. 
  • The effect on entitlements after separation from a spouse or partner or a new partner joining the household. 
  • Where you need to know the impact a change in your employment status or earnings will have on benefit entitlement. 
  • Families with a child aged 16-19 who could claim benefits in their own right as an adult for the first time. 

There is high demand for telephone call back appointments, and we cannot guarantee you will be offered an appointment. If we do offer a call back appointment, this may be with a different family finances adviser than you have spoken to previously.

Support in the early years 

We have access to a range of resources that can help, including information on behaviour, sleep and toileting. We can also help you to understand about your rights to free childcare and how to find childcare places in your area.

Special educational needs 

Our advisers can explain how special educational needs (SEN) are identified and assessed in England, and what to do if you’re not happy about the support your child is getting. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, we may provide information and signpost you to alternative sources of advice in those nations where appropriate. 

Our education advisers can help: 

  • If your child is struggling at nursery, school or college and you are not sure how to get the help and support your child needs. 
  • If you need help about transport to school or college. 
  • If your child has health needs that affect their education or attendance at school. 
  • If your child with SEND has other difficulties in education, including exclusion, bullying or discrimination. 
  • We can also put you in touch with local sources of help and advice. 

What our helpline cannot do

As a national UK-wide service, the helpline cannot help with the following: 

Getting ready for your helpline call

Demand for our helpline is high. Check if you can find the answer to your question in our online information and advice pages first. You can use our FAQs tool or ask our chatbot Charlie to help.

If you do call, you may have to wait a long time to speak to an adviser. Please be patient, and we will get to you as soon as we can.  

The busiest times of the day tend to be between 10am and 11.30am; lunchtime between 1pm and 2pm; and between 4pm and 5pm. 

It’s helpful to prepare for your call:

As a result of your call, we may book you a call-back appointment with one of our family finance advisers. Or, with your consent, we might provide you with some follow-up advice and information by email or post.

Your call is confidential – but please see our confidentiality and data protection statement below.

Facebook, Twitter, email and web queries

If you’re contacting us through Facebook, Twitter, email or via our web form, where possible please provide information such as the age of your child and the area you live in. This will help us to advise you better. 

If your enquiry is particularly urgent, we recommend that you call our helpline. 

Confidentiality, data protection and safeguarding

Our helpline is confidential. This means we will not share your personal details with anyone outside of Contact without your permission. 

There are a few exceptional situations where we may have to breach confidentiality and pass on your details without your consent. 

Situations where we might need to break confidentiality: 

If we make a decision to break confidentiality, we will make reasonable effort to keep you informed of what we intend to do. 

We are committed to protecting your privacy. Whenever you share personal data with us, we aim to be clear with you, and not to do anything with your data that you wouldn’t reasonably expect us to do. 

We will never sell your personal data to other organisations and will only ever share it in appropriate, legal or exceptional circumstances. View our privacy policy

Accreditation and evaluation

We are a member of the Helplines Partnership, and our helpline is accredited to their quality standard. 

Our last assessment took place in February 2023, and our current accreditation lasts for three years.

Visit the Helplines Partnership website to find out more. 

How we improve our helpline

Helpline surveys 

Twice a year, we conduct a survey on our helpline and online services, including our website and social media pages. 

In our survey of March 2024: 

  • 93% of telephone helpline respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service. 
  • 92% of website users said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service. 
  • 94% of readers of our parent guides and factsheets were satisfied or very satisfied. 
  • 74% of Chatbot/live chat users said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
  • 96% of respondents would recommend Contact to others after using our services.
  • 93% of respondents felt better informed after using our services.

Find out how to make a compliment or complaint about any of our services. 

Helpline contact details

Freephone telephone

 Tel: 0808 808 3555 

Open Monday to Friday, 9.30am-5pm.

Every Tuesday, the helpline opens at the slightly later time of 10:15am due to a team meeting. 

We are not open on public holidays.

Press 1 to speak to an education adviser, or press 2 for all other helpline enquires.

If our helpline is very busy you may not be able to join a call queue. You will hear a busy message and be asked to try again. You cannot leave a message; we are not able to call you back.

You can contact the team, via alternative options below.  

Will the call cost me money?

Calls from the UK are completely free, including from mobile phones. We cannot guarantee that calls made from outside the UK will be free.

What if English is not my first language?

If you do not speak English as a first language, we can call you back with an interpreter. Phone the helpline and tell the adviser which language you need and provide your phone number. We will aim to arrange a call with an interpreter on the line the same working day.

What if I am deaf or hearing impaired?

Deaf and speech impaired callers can access our helpline via the NGT Text relay service. Text users can prefix their call with 18002.

Chatbot & Live Chat

Use our chatbot, Charlie, to find the information and advice you need quickly and easily, 24/7.  

Click on the chatbot button in the bottom right-hand side of our website to start.

If Charlie cannot find the advice or information you are looking for, select Live Chat and a member of the team will respond. Our team are usually available:

  • Monday, Thursday & Friday: 9.30am-12pm and 2pm-4pm.
  • Wednesday: 9.30am-12pm and 2pm-4pm.
  • Tuesday: 10.15am-12pm and 2pm-4pm.

If Live Chat is not available, you can fill in our web form, send us an email or call us.