As well as our online information, we run a freephone 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:
- Adults caring for adults over 25.
- Young carers caring for people over 25.
- Disabled adults.
- Adults looking for information and advice on medical conditions and diagnosis – unless it is relevant to a child.
- Parents of disabled children or young people living outside the UK – unless they are planning to return to or are relocating to the UK.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Providing legal advice.
- Providing medical advice about treatments or second opinions.
- Casework or representation at meetings and tribunals.
- Filling in forms, checking paperwork or writing letters on your behalf.
- Attending meetings at the school or with the local authority.
- Providing funds or grants for items or holidays.
Getting prepared for your helpline call
Demand for our helpline is high, so you may have to wait to speak to a parent adviser.
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:
- Try to organise a quiet place where you can talk if possible.
- Have a pen and paper to hand and any documents you wish to discuss.
- As your call may take up to 30 minutes, please set aside some time.
As a result of your call, we may book you a call back appointment with one of our family finance advisers, or provide you with some follow up advice and information by email or post with your consent.
Your call is confidential – see our confidentiality procedure 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 and data protection
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:
- A child is at risk of harm.
- A vulnerable adult is at risk of harm.
- A terrorist threat has been made.
- We have been ordered to share information with the courts.
- A person poses a serious risk to others.
- A person is threatening or abusing staff or preventing the helpline service from being delivered to others.
If a decision is made to break confidentiality, we will make reasonable effort to keep your 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.
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 September 2019, and our current accreditation runs until 2022.
Visit the Helplines Partnership website to find out more.
How we improve our helpline
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 2022, of 374 respondents:
- 97% of telephone helpline respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
- 95% of our website users said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
- 93% of those who received our newsletters said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
- 93% of readers of our parent guides and factsheets were satisfied or very satisfied.
- 91% of our social media users said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
- 86% of live chat respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
- 97% of respondents would recommend Contact to others.
Find out how to make a compliment or complaint about any of our services.
In Autumn 2018 we carried out an independent evaluation of our welfare rights branch of our helpline.
Read the report of the independent evaluation of the Contact helpline’s welfare rights project, covering the period June 2016 to June 2018. This project was funded by the Big Lottery.
Get in touch with our helpline
Tel: 0808 808 3555
Calls are free from UK landlines and UK mobiles.
Access to interpreters from Language Line Solutions.
We welcome Relay UK calls.
Every Tuesday the helpline opens at the slightly later time of 10:15am due to a team meeting.
Press 1, to speak to an education adviser, press 2 for all other helpline enquires.
Use our chatbot, Charlie, to find the information and advice you need quickly and easily, 24/7.
Click on the chatbot button located at the bottom right-hand side of our website to get started.
If Charlie cannot find the advice or information you are looking for, you can choose to get in touch with the team by Live Chat, email or phone.
We aim to respond within 10 working days.
We aim to respond within10 working days.