Anxiety and mental health resources
The NHS Every Mind Matters website has a range of information available about mental health and wellbeing – click here
Mind is the leading national mental health charity. It offers a mental health Helpline, a specialist legal helpline providing advice about mental health law and also has a range of online resources on its website. For more details – click here
Young Minds is a national charity that supports the mental health of children and young people, with Helpline, Textline and webchat support available and a range of online resources on its website for children and their parents/carers. For more details – click here
Anxiety UK is a specialist national charity which runs a helpline service and online support groups, along with workshops and courses about managing and reducing anxiety and stress – click here
The NHS in Berkshire has published a booklet to support young people in times of emotional distress. It looks at issues including anxiety, body image, relationships and anger and where to get help. The Little Blue Book of Sunshine can be downloaded at this link – https://www.berkshirewestccg.nhs.uk/patient-information/self-care/the-little-blue-book-of-sunshine/
No5 Young People provides confidential counselling and mental health support to young people aged 11 to 25 in Reading and nearby. Its services are free, open access and available by referral from professionals or self-referral by young people. The charity also provides the Looking for Direction? signposting website, to help young people find mental health and wellbeing resources.
Reading Community Outreach Service, run by the charity Together for Mental Wellbeing, provides mental health support in the community within Reading to improve the wellbeing of people, help build resilience and independence, provide preventative mental support and support people recovering from mental health issues – click here
The Berkshire West Breathing Space, also run by Together for Mental Wellbeing, offers a safe, welcoming and supportive space for anybody aged over 18 who is experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope. Based at Ajilon House, in Friar Street, Reading, the service is available to people living in the Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire council areas and can also provide support by phone and email – click here
Slough Borough Council’s public health team has information available about wellbeing and mental health support in the town – click here
East Berkshire Safe Haven, in Slough, provides out-of-hours drop-in mental health support to anyone aged 18 and over, in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It is open at 54 High Street from Thursday to Monday, between 5pm and 11pm – click here for more details.
The Wellbeing for Slough website has links to health and wellbeing support and services available in the borough council area, including NHS units, activities, sports and social groups – click here.
Tellmi is a safe, anonymous app where young people can talk about absolutely anything, from anxiety to autism, dating to depression, or self-harm to self-esteem, in an age-banded online community. Moderators check everything to keep users safe and in-house counsellors are available to offer extra support. The service is available to 11 to 17-year-olds who live in the Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire council areas – click here for more details and to download the app.
Kooth is a free online support network to help children and young people who are struggling with mental health difficulties, with counsellors available online to support them. The service is available to 11 to 19-year-olds – or up to 25 for young people with SEND – living in Bracknell Forest, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead – click here for more details and to register for the service.
And Kooth has published an FAQ for children and young people about how the service works and a guide for parents and carers to help them spot warning signs of possible mental health issues and how to support their child.
- Click here to download the FAQ for children and young people.
- Click here to download the guide for parents and carers.
The University Compare website has a guide for university students about understanding and managing anxiety and mental health on its website – click here.
Autism and disability websites, support services and forums
- ABLEize Berkshire Disability Resources – lists disability and special needs groups, clubs and support services – https://www.ableize.com/disabled-groups-and-clubs-by-county/berkshire/
- Alafia Reading – supports black and minority ethnic families with children with additional needs – https://acrereading.org/alafia/
- Ambitious About Autism – http://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk
- ASD Family Help (Wokingham and West Berkshire) – http://www.asdfamilyhelp.org
- Asperger and ASD UK online forum – http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum
- Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation – http://www.aspergerfoundation.org.uk.
- AutAngel (Reading) – http://www.autangel.org.uk
- Autism & Bilingualism – online information and leaflets to download in 16 languages, plus a clinical practice guide for health professionals – https://autism-bilingualism.github.io/resources/
- Autism Bucks – support for autistic adults and their carers in Buckinghamshire – https://autism-bucks.charity/newsite/
- Autism Education Trust (AET) – http://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk
- Autism Family Support Oxfordshire – https://www.afso.org.uk/
- Autism Independent UK (SFTAH) – http://www.autismuk.com
- Autism Kids on Tour – reviews of days out, holidays, restaurants, accommodations, products and activities, plus blog posts about autism and parenting – https://autismkidsontour.com
- Autism Links – a directory of autism advice and services in the UK – http://www.autismlinks.co.uk
- Autism West Midlands – information sheets about autism to download in French, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Somali and several South Asian languages http://www.autismwestmidlands.org.uk
- Autistica UK – charity funding autism research – https://www.autistica.org.uk/
- Autistica Network – network which connects autistic people and families in the UK with autism researchers seeking participants for studies https://www.autistica.org.uk/get-involved/take-part-in-research
- BILD – British Institute of Learning Disabilities – http://www.bild.org.uk
- Bullying Online – http://www.bullying.co.uk
- Carers Trust – http://www.carers.org
- Cerebra – charity for families of children with brain conditions – http://www.cerebra.org.uk
- Chinese Autism Support Group – Chinese/English bilingual booklet about autism available to download – https://chineseinwales.org.uk/autismchinese/
- Communicating with an Autistic Child: a parents’ guide – http://www.wiseoldsayings.com
- Contact – charity supporting families with disabled children – http://www.cafamily.org.uk
- Dental Care advice for autism – US website but has general advice about dental care and autism – https://www.emergencydentistsusa.com/autism-and-dental-care/
- Dingley’s Promise, supports under-5s with additional needs & disabilities and their families in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire – http://www.dingley.org.uk
- Equality and Human Rights Commission – challenges discrimination and protects human rights – http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/
- ERIC – Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence – http://www.eric.org.uk
- Family Fund – provides grants to families raising disabled or seriously-ill children aged 17 or under – http://www.familyfund.org.uk
- Learning Disability England – https://www.learningdisabilityengland.org.uk
- Living Well with Autism – US parent-run website with lots of ideas and free or inexpensive resources – http://livingwellwithautism.com/welcome
- Living with an autistic partner – https://natalieroberts.com/files/10-unhealthy-habits-when-your-partner-has-aspergers.pdf
- Mencap – a leading UK charity working with people with a learning disability and their families/carers – http://www.mencap.org.uk
- Reading Mencap – http://www.readingmencap.org.uk
- Me2 Club – supports children and young people with additional needs and disabilities, aged 5-19, living in the boroughs of Reading and Wokingham, so they can attend mainstream activity clubs – http://me2club.org.uk/
- National Autistic Society (NAS) – http://www.autism.org.uk
- NAS Autism Services Directory – resources and support services in the UK – https://www.autism.org.uk/directory
- NAS South Bucks branch – https://www.facebook.com/sbucksbranch
- NAS Surrey branch – https://nassurreybranch.org/
- Parenting Special Children – Berkshire special needs charity – http://www.parentingspecialchildren.co.uk
- PDA Society – information, support and training about the pathological demand avoidance profile of autism – https://www.pdasociety.org.uk
- Phoebe Caldwell’s autism training films – http://www.phoebecaldwell.co.uk/films.asp
- RAFT Club (Reading Autism Families Together) – for families of autistic children aged 4 to 12 living in Reading https://theraftclub.weebly.com/
- Reading Autism Hub – links to autism support services in the town – https://www.reading.gov.uk/adult-care/adultcare/support-services/autism/
- Reading Families’ Forum – http://www.readingfamiliesforum.co.uk
- Reading and West Berkshire Carers’ Partnership, run by Communicare, Reading Mencap, Age UK Reading and Age UK Berkshire to support unpaid family carers – https://carerspartnership.org.uk/
- SEND Voices – Wokingham’s parent carer forum – https://www.sendvoiceswokingham.org.uk/
- SEND Voices RBWM – Windsor & Maidenhead’s parent carer forum – https://rbwm.afcinfo.org.uk/pages/local-offer/information-and-advice/send-voices-rbwm-parent-carer-forum
- Sibs, a national charity supporting brothers and sisters of disabled people of all ages https://www.sibs.org.uk/
- Slough Carers’ Support – https://sloughcarerssupport.co.uk/
- Special iApps, a range of education apps for children with SEN, including autism – https://www.specialiapps.org/en
- Special Voices, Slough’s parent carer forum – http://specialvoices.co.uk
- Stepping Forward, Reading-based disability advice and support charity, providing training and advocacy support – https://www.stepping-forward.org.uk/
- Swings & Smiles, a playcentre for all children with special needs and their families, wherever they live, in Thatcham, West Berkshire https://www.swingsandsmiles.co.uk/
- Dr Temple Grandin’s website – http://www.templegrandin.com
- The DIY Garden website has advice about how to create a sensory garden at home – https://diygardening.co.uk/create-sensory-garden/
- The Dyspraxia Foundation – www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk
- The Engine Shed (Reading) special interest club for autistic children, young people and adults (siblings also welcome) who love trains – http://www.theengineshed.org.uk and http://www.facebook.com/theengineshed/
- Professor Tony Attwood’s website – www.tonyattwood.com.au
- Wenn Lawson’s website – autism consultant and psychologist – www.mugsy.org/wendy
- West Berkshire Parent Carer Forum – https://www.wbpcf.org.uk/
- West Berkshire PDA Support Group – www.westberkspdasupportgroup.co.uk/
- Wokingham Carers’ Hub, run by TuVida to support unpaid family carers in the borough – https://www.tuvida.org/wokingham-outreach-service
- Wrong Planet online community for autistic and neurodivergent people – http://wrongplanet.net/
Speech and Language Therapist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Ann Wilson provides online CBT sessions for autistic adults who want to understand their autism diagnosis better or are struggling with low mood and/or anxiety. She has 17 years’ experience in the NHS with Berkshire Healthcare Trust diagnosing autism and is now providing CBT support on a private basis. For more details, email email@example.com to arrange a free initial consultation.
Louise Ordish is an Oxford-University-trained psychodynamic counsellor based in Newbury. She self-diagnosed with autism in adulthood and specialises in working with young people (16 and older) and adults who have, or think they may have, autism or pathological demand avoidance (PDA). You can contact Louise on 07456 665592 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more at www.louiseordishcounselling.co.uk
A number of charities in Berkshire provide advice about claiming benefits and assistance with making applications, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals to benefits tribunals. See below for details:
- Citizens Advice: Information about benefits, including a free online benefits calculator, is available from the national Citizens Advice website at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/. And there are local Citizens Advice services in the Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire council areas, while East Berkshire Citizens Advice serves the Bracknell Forest, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead council areas. They can help you to fill in benefit application forms and advise you should you need to appeal if an initial application is turned down. You can search for contact details for the local services in Berkshire on the national Citizens Advice website at the link above.
- Reading Welfare Rights: Provides a comprehensive benefits advice and support service for borough residents, including help to fill in forms and with appeals, including representation at hearings and benefits tribunals. See https://readingspecialist.co.uk/ or call 0118 955 1070.
- Communicare: Also based in Reading, offers advice about benefits entitlements, help to make applications and advice about mandatory reconsiderations and help to prepare for appeal hearings. See https://www.communicare.org.uk/benefits-checking/
- Stepping Forward UK: The Reading-based charity provides support to Berkshire residents to make applications for Disability Living Allowance for under-16s and and Personal Independence Payment for those aged 16+. See https://www.stepping-forward.org.uk/
- Promise Inclusion: Their family liaison team provides advice about benefits and help to fill in application forms for autistic and learning disabled people and their families in Bracknell Forest and Wokingham. See https://promiseinclusion.org/
- ASD Family Help: Their family liaison team provides advice about benefits and help to fill in application forms for autistic people and their families in Wokingham and West Berkshire, including Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and new-style Employment & Support Allowance. See https://asdfamilyhelp.org/
- Cerebra: The national charity supports families of children with brain conditions, including autism, and provides a free guide for parents and carers about claiming Disability Living Allowance for their children, with advice about making an application and how to appeal if turned down. The guide can be downloaded at https://cerebra.org.uk/download/disability-living-allowance-dla-guide/
- Contact: The national charity supports families with disabled children, and has a series of online guides about entitlement to benefits and tax credits and how to claim them. See https://contact.org.uk/help-for-families/information-advice-services/benefits-financial-help/
- Turn2Us: The charity offers advice and practical help to families who are struggling financially, including advice about entitlement to benefits and an online benefits calculator. See https://www.turn2us.org.uk/
- National Autistic Society: Offers a range of information about entitlement to benefits, the application process, making an appeal and managing your finances. See https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/benefits-and-money
See below for official Government information about benefits and contact numbers for enquiries.
- Department for Work & Pensions Benefits information
- For Personal Independence Payment (PIP) enquiries:
Telephone 0800 121 4433
Textphone 0800 121 4493
- For Disability Living Allowance (DLA) enquiries:
Telephone 0800 121 4600
Textphone 0800 121 4523
- For Universal Credit enquiries:
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
- For Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) enquiries:
Telephone 0800 169 0310
Textphone 0800 169 0314
- For Carer’s Allowance enquiries:
Telephone 0800 731 0297
Textphone 0800 731 0317
Local Offer provision from councils
Under the Children and Families Act 2014, all local authorities must publish a Local Offer guide, detailing what support is available for families of children with special educational needs. For details of Local Offer provision in your council area, click on the relevant link below.
- Bracknell Forest – www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk
- Reading – www.reading.gov.uk
- Slough – www.slough.gov.uk
- West Berkshire – www.westberks.gov.uk
- Windsor & Maidenhead – www.rbwm.gov.uk
- Wokingham – www.wokingham.gov.uk
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust – www.berkshirehealthcare.nhs.uk – runs the CAMHS and adult autism diagnosis services.
The trust has a dedicated website for its services for Children, Young People and Families – https://cypf.berkshirehealthcare.nhs.uk
The Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West NHS Integrated Care System (ICS) – https://www.bucksoxonberksw.icb.nhs.uk/ – contracts Autism Berkshire and Parenting Special Children to provide the Berkshire West Autism & ADHD Support Service.
The following Local Healthwatch organisations monitor health and social care services on behalf of patients and service users:
- Bracknell Forest – www.healthwatchbracknellforest.co.uk
- Reading – www.healthwatchreading.org.uk
- Slough – www.healthwatchslough.co.uk
- West Berkshire – www.healthwatchwestberks.org.uk
- Windsor, Ascot & Maidenhead – www.healthwatchwam.co.uk
- Wokingham – www.healthwatchwokingham.co.uk
Education Information Advice and Support Services
These are statutory services offering information, advice and support to parents and carers about special education needs (SEN), including Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Their staff can go into schools to support parents and carers over educational, health and care matters.
- Bracknell Forest – https://bracknellforestiass.co.uk/
- Reading – https://www.readingiass.org/
- Slough – https://www.sloughsendiass.org.uk/
- West Berkshire – www.westberksiass.info
- Windsor & Maidenhead – www.ias-rbwm.info
- Wokingham – https://www.sendiasswokingham.org.uk/
Other education websites
- ACE Education – independent advice about state schools – www.ace-ed.org.uk
- Autism Education Trust – www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk
- IPSEA (the Independent Panel for Special Educational Needs) is a charity providing support and training about SEN laws for parents – www.ipsea.org.uk
- Adviza, based in Reading, provides a single point of access for young people to help them prepare for the transition to work and adult life – https://www.adviza.org.uk/
- Do2Learn offers a variety of free resources for people with special needs – www.do2learn.com
- Network 81 offers advice on opportunities and training for children with special educational needs – http://www.network81.org.uk/index.shtml
- Skill, the National Bureau for Students With Disabilities – www.skill.org.uk
- Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
- Studying in the UK as a Disabled Student – Graduate student Caroline Mathiasen, who is hearing impaired, looks at the rights of disabled students, the support available at universities and funding – https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2018/august/studying-uk-disabled-student
- The Shine Team is a specialist support service helping autistic children aged 4 to 18 who are being educated in mainstream schools in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and also supports 19 to 25-year-olds at college – http://www.theshineteam.com/
- The Transition Information Network, run by the Council for Disabled Children, provides information about the transition process for disabled young people, parents/carers and professionals – https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/transition-information-network
- West Berkshire Autistic Spectrum Advisory Service supports autistic students in the area and their schools – https://directory.westberks.gov.uk/kb5/westberkshire/directory/service.page?id=aRleWigXnaY
- What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)? – https://educationadvocacy.co.uk/what-is-a-ehcp/
Further education courses, tailored for individuals with special educational needs, are offered by:
- BCA (Berkshire College of Agriculture) – https://www.bca.ac.uk/student-information/support-safeguarding/additional-learning-support/
- Reading College – https://reading.activatelearning.ac.uk/college-life/supporting-you/learners-with-learning-difficulties-and-or-disabilities/
- Newbury College – https://newbury-college.ac.uk/high-needs?highlight=WyJkaXNhYmlsaXRpZXMiXQ==
- Windsor Forest Colleges Group – https://www.windsor-forest.ac.uk/support/support-with-your-learning.html
- Access to Work is a Government scheme to help the disabled and people with mental or physical health conditions. Grants for equipment and other support are available in some circumstances –https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work
- Adviza, based in Reading, provides a single point of access for young people to help them prepare for the transition to work and adult life – https://www.adviza.org.uk/
- Dimensions, based in Theale, offers support into employment for people with learning disabilities and autism – www.dimensions-uk.org
- Graft Thames Valley aims to eradicate barriers to employment for disabled or disadvantaged people struggling to find a job and offers Survival Guide to Employment courses for autistic adults – www.graft.org.uk
- The National Autistic Society offers employment and training advice for autistic people who are looking for work – https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/employment
- The Shaw Trust provides training and work opportunities for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market due to disability, ill health or other social circumstances – https://www.shawtrust.org.uk/
- A Guide to Workplace Bullying offers advice and information for people who may be experiencing bullying or discrimination at work – www.autoenrolment.co.uk/guides/workplace-bullying
Spectroomz is a site that links up prospective employers with autistic freelancers who find it easier to work from home and avoid the stress associated with traditional workplaces – www.spectroomz.com
The Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office runs the Victims First website to help victims of crime. It includes information and advice, including signposting to services to help victims of crime to cope and recover from the impact of the crime.
The Stop Loan Sharks project aims to combat unlicensed illegal money lending and to protect vulnerable people from exploitation.
The project has published a guide on how to spot if someone may be being exploited by loan sharks. It is designed to help health and social care professionals but contains information that parents, carers and friends may also find useful. A 24-hour Helpline is also available on 0300 555 2222.
Click here to download the guide.