November 27, 2021

Membership Scheme

Sparkle Sheffield offer Four Membership Packages.

Bronze: FREE

Silver £20

Gold £30

Platinum £40

To see what each level has to offer, please see below. (Price per year)

Bronze Membership Includes:

Bi-monthly Newsletter:

Keep up to date with everything Sparkle with a bi-monthly newsletter, letting you know what we have been doing, as well as what we are up to in the coming months. Our newsletter also contains exclusive information about upcoming events and experiences.

Access to our very own Sparkle Sheffield App:

Our new App is bursting with information, links and tips for all our Sparkle families. these include: Out and About – useful information when out, including shop recommendations based on the experiences of autistic people and their families! Events – details of all our upcoming Sparkle Sheffield events Useful Contacts – how to contact the Sparkle Sheffield team, and our recommended services. News – the latest news and updates, including any important information you need to know. Helpful Strategies – helpful information to support and empower autistic people and their families. Business Directory – a list of businesses run by Autistic people and/or their parents/carers – support small and loca


Our Silver Package Includes the above PLUS:

Additional Content via the App:

MEMBERS EXCLUSIVE AREAS! – Exclusive information specially for our Sparkle Sheffield membership holders and their families!

Bookable 1:1 Support / Advice Sessions:

Support sessions are 30 minutes in length and held with a Sparkle Sheffield representative. These will be either a parent/carer of children with additional needs, and/or a professional who is experienced in working with children/young people with additional needs. We will advise, signpost and support on an individual basis.

Parent Training Sessions / Workshops:

Members have access to free parent training sessions throughout the year. Training sessions cover a range of topics including challenging behaviour, sensory issues, communication and puberty. Training sessions are hosted by a Sparkle Sheffield representative. This will be either a parent/carer of children with additional needs, and/or a professional who is experienced in working with children/young people with additional needs.

Access to Sparkle Tots/ Sparkle/ Sparkle On/ Twinkle Events:

Membership of Silver, Gold and Platinum packages will entitle discounted admission for all individuals listed on the membership to Sparkle Tots, Sparkle On and Twinkle sessions. Non-members are welcome to attend Sparkle Sheffield events, which will be at the full admission price for each event.

Sensory Equipment and Books Loan Scheme:

Members are able to loan sensory equipment and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities related reading materials from Sparkle Sheffield. Resources include a range of items to stimulate all the senses, and others that may have a calming effect. Books available to loan to members cover a range of topics including supporting emotions, talking to siblings about autism, and the teen years. These resources aim to enable families to try products before having to pay out for costly items.

Our GOLD Package Includes all the above PLUS:

Priority Booking for Sparkle Sheffield Events:

Members are able to book places upon Sparkle Sheffield children’s events, and Sparkle Sheffield parent/carer events, 48 hours before tickets go on general release. For events that are strictly limited, members will receive priority booking and if sold out, tickets will not go on general release.

Our Platinum Package Includes all the above PLUS:

Exclusive Events:

Members of Sparkle Sheffield can access exclusive events for their family, which are only available to Platinum Members. These events do not go on general release. Events include days out, virtual experiences, physical activities and Access to the Sheffield Arena Sparkle Hospitality Suite for heavily discounted shows.

Discounted Entry to the South Yorkshire Autism Fayre:

Members of Sparkle Sheffield are entitled to a discount on tickets when attending the annual South Yorkshire Autism Fayre.

To Join, please follow the below link and complete our application form.

Before joining, please note:

*We do ask for evidence to be included to ensure that our members are vetted prior to joining the membership. No diagnosis is required to join the Sparkle Sheffield membership, but we do require your child to be on the pathway for investigations. We accept the following evidence.

  • A pathway letter (such as one from your investigating clinic (e.g., Ryegate), CAMHS or the local hospital)
  • A letter detailing your/your child’s diagnosis or:
  • A letter confirming your/ your child’s entitlement to Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Read More
November 24, 2021

Sparkle Sheffield Events Schedule

Virtual Events

Mondays, 5.30pm – Among Us club
Wednesdays, 6.30pm – Bedtime Stories
Fridays, 5.30pm – Minecraft club

All virtual events are hosted via Zoom – members will have the access codes in their welcome emails and/or on the Sparkle Sheffield app.

* Please note – if there is an in-person event at the same time as a virtual event (i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays), the virtual event will be re-scheduled – we’ll still host 3 online events per week! *

Coffee Mornings

Coffee mornings are back!

Come and meet parents and families, ask questions and generally have a chat with people that really do understand.

Everyone welcome!

Monday 15th November
Monday 22nd November
Monday 29th November
Monday 6th December

All 10am-12noon at Westfield Com.Unity Community Centre, 32 Westfield Centre, Westfield, Sheffield, S20 8ND.

2021 Events


Thursday 4th November – WWE at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Sunday 14th November – Sheffield Steelers vs. Cardiff Devils at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Tuesday 16th November – The National Videogame Museum
Monday 22nd November – Ninja Warrior


Thursday 2nd December – Gary Barlow at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Saturday 4th December – Madness at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Saturday 4th December – Santa Barge trips
Sunday 5th December – Santa Barge trips
Sunday 5th December – Mayfield Alpaca Animal Farm
Sunday 5th December – Sheffield Steelers vs. Dundee Stars at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Thursday 9th December – Sh**ged. Married. Annoyed at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Friday 10th December – Air Haus – NOW FULLY BOOKED!
Saturday 11th December – Santa Barge trips
Saturday 11th December – Sheffield Steelers vs. Coventry Blaze at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Sunday 12th December – Santa Barge trips
Thursday 16th – Sunday 19th December – Disney on Ice at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Saturday 18th December – Christmas Elf deliveries! – NOW FULLY BOOKED!
Monday 20th December – Breakfast with Santa – NOW FULLY BOOKED!
Wednesday 22nd December – Sheffield Steelers vs. Glasgow Clan at Sheffield Utilita Arena
Thursday 23rd December – Cinema showing of The Grinch – NOW FULLY BOOKED!
Monday 27th December – Christmas at Chatsworth – NOW FULLY BOOKED!

2022 Events

Friday 7th January 2022 – Snow White at Sheffield City Hall – NOW FULLY BOOKED!
Friday 21st January – Family swimming at Hillsborough Leisure Centre

More events coming soon! To take advantage of our Events, please visit our Membership Scheme Page.


Read More
November 11, 2021

Driving and Notifiable Medical Conditions

Full list of medical conditions drivers must declare or face £1,000 fine

The DVLA has warned drivers they must declare if they have certain medical conditions or they could face a £1,000 fine.

A full list of health conditions has been published on the organisation’s website, with motorists being urged to check whether their ability to drive might be affected.

They range from anxiety and brain tumours to having tunnel vision and schizophrenia. Drivers can declare conditions online or using a paper form and the agency will then make an assessment and can stop someone from driving if necessary. If someone has a condition they haven’t declared and they then have an accident, they could be prosecuted.

It is thought that around one million drivers are using the roads without properly declaring a medical condition to the DVLA. Some rules are different for drivers of cars compared to those behind the wheel of a bus or lorry. For example those who are deaf don’t need to tell the DVLA if they only have a car licence but do if they have a licence to drive HGVs. Some conditions only need to be declared if it is felt they affect a person’s ability to drive – with motorists being urged to check with their doctors first. Drivers should also notify the DVLA if there condition has got worse since the licence was awarded.

Full list of conditions car drivers may need to report to the DVLA:
Agoraphobia – if it affects your driving
Alcohol problems
Alzheimer’s disease
Angiomas or cavernomas
Ankylosing spondylitis – if it affects your driving
Anorexia nervosa – if it affects your driving
Anxiety – if it affects your driving
Aortic aneurysm- if it is 6 centimetres or more in diameter despite treatment
Arachnoid cyst
Arrhythmia – if you you have distracting or disabling symptoms
Arteriovenous malformation
Arthritis – if you use special controls for driving
ADHD – if it affects your driving
Bipolar disorder (manic depression)
Blood clots in the brain – but not in the lungs
Blood pressure – if you are experiencing side effects from treatment
Brachial plexus injury
Brain abscess, cyst or encephalitis
Brain aneurysm
Traumatic brain injury
Brain tumour
Broken limbs – if you’ll be unable to drive for more than 3 months
Brugada syndrome
Burr hole surgery
Cancer – if it will lead to problems with your brain or nervous system
Central venous thrombosis – if you’re still having problems a month later
Cerebral palsy
Cognitive problems
Congenital heart disease – if symptoms affect driving
Fits, seizures or convulsions and driving
Déjà vu – if you have seizures or epilepsy
If you have an implanted defibrillator
Depression – if it affects your ability to drive safely.
Diabetes – if your insulin treatment last over 3 months
Diplopia (double vision)
Dizziness or vertigo – if it is sudden, disabling or recurrent.
Drug use
Empyema (brain)
Essential tremor – if it affects your ability to drive safely.
Eye conditions
Guillain Barré syndrome
Serious head injury
Heart attacks – check with your doctor
Heart failure – if your symptoms affect your ability to drive
Heart palpitations
High blood pressure (hypertension) – if a doctor tells you to stop driving
Hodgkin’s lymphoma – if you develop problems with the brain or nervous system
Huntington’s disease – if it causes any symptoms.
Hydrocephalus with symptoms
Hypoxic brain damage
Intracerebral haemorrhage – if you’re still having problems a month later
Korsakoff’s syndrome
Labyrinthitis – if you have symptoms for 3 months or more.
Learning disabilities but not learning difficulties e.g dyslexia
Lewy body dementia
Limb disability
Long QT syndrome
Lung cancer – if your doctor says you can’t drive
Lymphoma – if your doctor says you can’t drive
Marfan’s syndrome
Meningioma – if it affects your driving
Motor neurone disease
Muscular dystrophy
Myasthenia gravis
Night blindness
Obsessive compulsive disorder – if it affects your driving.
Excessive sleepiness – if moderate or severe
Optic atrophy
Pacemakers – if you’ve had one fitted
Paranoid schizophrenia
Parkinson’s disease
Peripheral neuropathy
Personality disorder – if it affects your driving
Pituitary tumour
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – if it affects your driving.
Psychotic depression
Pulmonary arterial hypertension
Severe memory problems
Stroke – if you’re still having problems a month afterwards
Surgery – and you’re still unable to drive 3 months later.
Sleep apnoea – if its caused excessive sleepiness for at least three months
Schizo-affective disorder
Severe communication disorders
Spinal conditions, injuries or spinal surgery
Subarachnoid haemorrhage
Tourette’s syndrome – if it affects your ability to drive
Tunnel vision
Usher syndrome
Reduced visual acuity
Visual field defect
VP shunts
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

For more information on each of these conditions, check the DVLA website.

Read More
September 26, 2021

Maturing Child Trust Funds – What You Need to Know – UPDATE

People turning 18 from September 2020 can access the Child Trust Fund set up in their name – but nearly a third of all these funds are still unclaimed.

Nearly two million UK children are owed a collective £2 billion of free money, with the most valuable of these ‘lost’ funds being worth nearly £2,000 each.

Child Trust Funds were created in 2002 by Tony Blair’s Labour government, to give a financial leg-up to all children when they reach adulthood, but especially to the most disadvantaged.

Those born after August 2002 and before August 2010 were given at least £250 at birth in the form of a voucher that could be invested in a variety of funds. If the voucher wasn’t activated with 12 months, it was automatically invested in one of 14 different providers.

Parents could make deposits into their child’s Trust Fund, of between £10 and £364 a month, and on their seventh birthday children received an additional gift of £250.

However, children in households with income of £16,190 or less received £500 on each occasion, at birth and when they turned seven years old.

Now the first children to be enrolled in the Child Trust Fund scheme are reaching adulthood, and can access their money. But 1.8 million of these accounts remain unclaimed, either because the parents never knew about them, forgot about them, or moved home and lost their documents. As a result, around a hundred thousand children this year alone could miss out on a hugely valuable payment as they enter adulthood and independence.

How much could my Child Trust Fund be worth?

Even an unclaimed Child’s Trust Fund, containing no deposits other than the two minimum government contributions, will now have significant value thanks to 18 years of compound interest. Those receiving the lower level of contribution are worth nearly £1,000 by now, while the higher-contribution Trust Funds (given to children of poorer families) will hold nearly £2,000. If parents made additional deposits at any point, then the funds will be worth even more.

The most bitter twist of the Child Trust Fund saga is that around 80 per cent of these more valuable funds – i.e. those set up to help the least well off – have never been activated. The money is there and waiting to be accessed by those children when they reach adulthood, but the families may remain completely unaware that it exists.

Gavin Oldham, chairman and founder of The Share Foundation, called on today’s government to do more to inform those who are missing out. He said, ‘[This] is a life-changing amount of money to an 18-year-old. Tracing these funds could alter the prospects of a whole generation. But insufficient effort is being made to link families with their accounts.’

Onefamily CTF who manage Child Trust Funds decided to be more pragmatic and supportive in circumstances where a young person is Disabled and cannot access the Child Trust Fund themselves as problems were accruing around this . On being notified of the reason why a young person could not personally close their own account, where parents/carers were making it clear why the young person could not Onefamily Child Trust Fund account began ahead of any Government change enabled parents/carers to do it instead by seeking specified forms of identification and issuing to parents/carers in these circumstances declaration documents for them to complete, sign and send back to them accordingly.

Onefamily head of investments, Paul Bridgwater, said: ‘Every case is different, but in some circumstances it is possible to release the funds if sufficient proof of identification can be provided by the person responsible for managing the young person’s finances.

‘We aim to review each application sensitively and with compassion, and would encourage all customers who may be in this position to get in touch, so that we can give them all the support that they need.’

The parents /carers of as many as four in five Disabled young people unable to access their Child Trust Fund savings maybe now seeing a further shift and no longer having to go to court to get access to their child’s Child Trust Fund money after a way of avoiding the costly and time-consuming process was greenlit by savings providers too in February 2021. .

A majority of Child Trust Fund providers have now agreed to proposals first published in December 2020 which would allow the parents and guardians of Disabled young people who have up to £5,000 in their accounts and no other savings to access the money by filling out a five page application form and getting a medical practitioner to fill out another one page document.
Whilst this agreement and the shift forward for some children is welcome, for those falling outside of the agreement specifications it is still proving challenging and the pragmatism of Onefamily is needed in these circumstances too .

Do I really have a Child Trust Fund?

Yes! If you was born a UK citizen between the dates of 1 September 2002 and 1 January 2011, then a Child Trust Fund for you definitely exists somewhere. Note that children born between 1 August 2010 and 1 January 2011 will have received smaller government contributions, due to the cutbacks of the time. However, such ‘austerity Child Trust Funds’ should still be worth at least £70 after 10 years even if no parental deposits were made.

How do I trace a Child’s Trust Fund?

A Child Trust Fund the Government initially said can only be accessed by the child it is assigned to, once they turn 18 – parents/carers cannot access it on their behalf. However, as the above shows as a parent /carer you can still help your child to claim their fund. The first essential step is to trace the provider.

You can do this by going to the Government’s website of Child Trust Fund providers. Browse the list and see if you recognise your provider, whom you can then contact.

If you still can’t remember the name of your provider, or never knew you had one, then you can trace the fund directly at the Child Trust Fund website. Click the link under Find your provider and log in to the Government Gateway (if you don’t yet have an ID and password, click ‘Create sign in details’).

You will normally receive an initial response within 15 days, which may then ask you for further information such as a birth certificate or adoption certificate.

How long does it take to track down a Child Trust Fund?

Currently the system for tracing a lost or unclaimed Child Trust Fund can be quite cumbersome. Some parents have reported having to wait several months to track down the details so that the money can be released. It’s therefore worth starting the process now, even if your child won’t turn 18 for a while. The lockdown is a great opportunity to get the admin sorted out, and you know it will pay off in the end.

Once you know your money is on your way, you can choose a new savings account that can be accessed more easily.

If you don’t know or can’t remember who holds your / your child’s CTF, for more advice go to :

Read More
August 23, 2021

Post-16 Transport

We are receiving numerous questions about post-16 transport as the new school years approaches its start. The information below should be helpful in relation to post-16 transport.

As Contact point out “Transport for young people over 16 in England has particular criterion that should be considered when making application for support or when reviewing your Local Authorities response to such requests”.

Local authorities do not have to provide free transport to educational settings for young people over compulsory school age. This includes 16-17 year olds, even though 16-17 year olds must stay in education or training. It applies whether your son or daughter stays on at school after year 11, goes to college or does some kind of work based learning. Your son or daughters travel arrangements may be reassessed even if they are staying on at the same school. Some local authorities may continue to provide the same transport arrangements, but they may charge for this.

Although your local authority does not have to provide free transport, it must publish a transport policy statement setting out what travel arrangements are available to enable 16-19 year olds to participate in education or training. For Sheffield residents, this policy can be found here. The policy also applies to young people over 19 who are continuing a course started before their 19th birthday.

Local authorities should not have a blanket policy to restrict transport to certain groups of young people, for example those who have received transport to school in the past, or those who have been to special schools. They should consider individual needs and the distance and nature of the route when deciding who is eligible.

What kind of transport might be available?

Arrangements should be flexible enough to allow for reasonable choice of education and training places. Details should be set out in your local authority’s Local Offer section on their website.

Options might include:

  • A subsidised bus pass or railcard
  • Transport provided directly by the local authority. For example a minibus or taxi for an individual or group of young people.
  • Travel training. This can help your son or daughter learn to travel independently on public transport. It may be available through the college or a voluntary organisation. Travel training supports a young person to be independent, but is not right for everyone. Your son or daughter’s suitability for travel training should be assessed before a decision is made.

The local policy must include arrangements to help young people with SEND to get to education. As explained above, these may not be provided for free.

Young people with SEND may need help with transport because they may not be able to travel in the same way as other young people in the area, for example if:

  • They have a disability which prevents them from walking or using public transport to their place of education.
  • They have to travel further to attend a course suitable for their SEND.

The local authority can make specific travel arrangements if needed and should look at each case individually before making a decision about suitable transport. Guidance says that transport should enable a young person to reach their place of education or training without such stress strain or difficulty that would prevent them from benefiting from the education provided.

If applying for transport, provide supporting information about your son or daughter’s physical disability, awareness of risk or sensory difficulties that would make it difficult for them to walk or use existing transport arrangements.

Contributing to travel costs

Local authorities can ask families for a contribution to travel costs even if they were getting free transport previously. Details should be set out in the local authority policy. The amount should be reasonable and in line with travel costs for young people in the area without SEND. The contribution should also be affordable for low income families. Arrangements should give details about any help available with travel costs, who is eligible, and how to apply.

Other financial help

There may be alternative sources of funding to help with education costs, including transport. The 16-19 bursary may be available to help with education-related costs, including transport, if your son or daughter meets the eligibility criteria. For Sheffield residents, this document can be found here. Young people over 19 may qualify for discretionary funding from their college.

Your son or daughter’s school, college or training provider can give you more information about financial support available.

You or your son or daughter may also qualify for benefits.

Transport over 18

There is a separate duty to provide transport for adults aged 18 – 25.

The law says that local authorities must make transport arrangements if they consider it necessary to enable adults to attend education. Such arrangements must be free of charge. The local authority policy must also specify travel arrangements for adults in the area with Education, Health and Care plans. The adult transport policy is often published together with the policy for 16-18 year olds.

Adults who are eligible for social care may also receive help with transport to education as part of their Care and Support plan.

Challenging decisions

You may be unhappy with a local authority decision on school transport, either because they have decided your son or daughter is not eligible or you think that the transport offered is not suitable. Your local authority should have a complaints and appeals procedure for transport decisions. This should be published alongside the transport policy.

Read More
August 10, 2021

Available Support Services

Some really useful signposting to support services, especially over the summer holidays where lots of services are reduced 💜

If a child, young person or adult is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening emergency or they cannot keep themselves safe call 999 or go to A&E. 


If you’re worried about a child’s health contact your GP or go to (for people aged 5 and over only) or call NHS direct on 111 

If a child, young person or adult is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening emergency or they cannot keep themselves safe call 999 or go to A&E.

Samaritans – call 116 123 

A free, confidential, 24/7 non-judgemental support if you are feeling suicidal. You may also email [email protected] 

UPDATE 23/06/2021: due to the coronavirus outbreak, they are unable to offer face to face services, telephone and email services remains the same.

Young Minds Crisis Messenger – Text “YM” to 85258 

A free, confidential, 24/7 crisis text message support service for young people experiencing a mental health crisis with suicidal thoughts, abuse or assault, self-harm, bullying or relationship issues.

Young Minds Parent Helpline – 0808 802 5544 

Monday to Fridays 9.30am – 4pm for parents and carers worried about a child or young person under 25 or have any questions about a child’s behaviour, emotional wellbeing, mental health condition, or have questions about the treatment a child is receiving who’s already been admitted to NHS Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The AFC Crisis Messenger – Text ‘AFC’ to 85258 

A free, confidential, 24/7 crisis text message support service for anyone (primary and secondary school pupils, parents/carers and school staff) who is feeling overwhelmed or is struggling to cope. Service helps with suicidal thoughts, abuse or assault, self-harm bullying or relationship issues. 

On My Mind – AFC 

Webpage with information for young people to make informed choices about their mental health and wellbeing

Shout – Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 

A free, confidential, 24/7 crisis text message support service for anyone who is struggling to cope with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, relationship problems, bullying or if you’re simply feeling overwhelmed.

The Mix Crisis Messenger – Text ‘THEMIX’ to 85258 

A free, confidential, 24/7 crisis text message support service. The Mix offers essential support for under-25s on anything from mental health to drink, drugs, sex and relationships and much more. Email will be responded by trained supporters within 24 hours. A one to one chat service, as well as group chat service is available via the website from 3pm – 11.15pm. The Mix also offers telephone counselling service for 10-18 year olds. A helpline is also available between 3pm-12am everyday, call 080 808 4994.

ChildLine – call 0800 1111 

Talk to a trained counsellor for free, anytime between 7.30am till 3.30am every day. 

UPDATE 23/06/2021: Due to current circumstances their telephone service times have changed to: Monday to Fridays 7.30am – 3.30am, Saturday and Sundays 9am to 3.30am. You can also log in for 1-2-1 chat (the same start times as their telephone service, except their online chat closes at midnight every night) or email, although it may take them a little longer to reply back to emails.


A free, safe and anonymous online counselling service for young people (aged 10-16). Service provides support from qualified counsellors via mobile, tablet and desktop computer. Young people can access support directly without needing a referral, although they will need to register to sign up for counselling. Counselling available on Monday to Fridays 12pm – 10pm or Saturday and Sundays 6pm – 10pm.

Papyrus – call 0800 068 41 41 or text 0778 6209697

A charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide with a specialist telephone service called HOPELINEUK. HOPELINEUK is Papyrus’s digital platform that offers support, practical advice and information to young people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone who is concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide. Available every day, 365 days a year, 9am – 12 midnight.

CALM – call 0800 58 58 58 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) offer a free, confidential, anonymous support, information and signposting telephone and webchat service to anyone in the UK who is feeling down or have hit a wall for any reason. Service is available every day from 5pm – 12 midnight 365 days a year. 

UPDATE 23/06/2021: They are taking calls from more people than usual so they may take a little longer to answer. Calls are taken in order, so it’s best to stay in a queue rather than redial.

No Panic Youth Helpline: 0330 606 1174 

Service for 13-20 year olds who need help with anxiety, panics, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder or any other anxiety related problems, available Mondays to Wednesdays 3pm – 6pm, Fridays 3pm – 6pm or Thursdays 3pm – 8pm, Saturdays 6pm – 8pm. Email support is also available [email protected]

Anxiety UK – call 03444 775 774 

Free and confidential service is available 9.30am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. It’s not a counselling service but they can point parents and young people in the direction of further help and support. There is also text support 07537 416 905 or email them [email protected] Website has lots of information and resources.

Family Lives –  call 0808 800 2222 

Free confidential service for families in England and Wales for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life from age 0 to teenage years (previously known as Parentline). Service is available Monday to Fridays 9am – 9pm, weekends 10am – 3pm. Online chat www.familylives/chat and email support available via [email protected], as well as several online parenting courses.

SANE – Out of hours helpline 07984 967 708 

SANE is a mental health charity. Service provides emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including families, friends and carers.
UPDATE 23/06/2021: Due to current circumstances the helpline is operating differently to before the pandemic. Please leave a message on above phone number giving your first name and a contact number and one of their professionals or senior volunteers will call you back as soon as practicable. Service is available every day from 4.30pm – 10.30pm. You can also contact them via email [email protected]

The Ollie Foundation – call 07715 311891

A charity dedicated to delivering suicide awareness, intervention and prevention training by working with the community to promote good mental health among young people and those that support them. Email [email protected].

Switchboard LGBT Helpline – 0300 330 0630 

Confidential service available 10am – 10pm, every day 365 days a year. Service provides a safe space listening service via telephone, email or online chat, for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people of all ages from all over the UK, or anyone considering issues around their sexuality and/or gender, or any LGBT related issue including their emotional wellbeing. Service is also open to friends, parents, or any family members of LGBT who are looking for general advice and support.

Parent Talk – Action for Children

A charity that offers free advice for parents of children (age 0-19) from weaning tips, behaviour, teenage worries to the mental wellbeing of children and parents via website or 1:1 online chats, available Monday 12:30-19:30, Tuesday 10:30-16:30, Wednesday 09:30-16:30, Thursday 12:30- 19:30, Friday 09:30-16:00. Outside of these times, leave them a message and one of their parenting coaches will reply within 3 working days.

Hub of Hope is part of Chasing the Stigma charity that provides a database which lists mental health support nationally and in the local area

A useful website with CBT help to mental health problems, includes self-help downloadable worksheets (e.g. STOPP techniques, thought diary etc.) videos, audios, therapy resources and information sheets on a range of A to Z mental health topics (e.g. ADHD, anger, coronavirus, mindfulness, OCD, sleep hygiene, tolerating uncertainty, plus many other topics).

MindEd – is a free educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults working with, or caring for, infants, children or teenagers. Website aims to give adults the knowledge, understanding and confidence to act on concerns about mental health.

Family-Action – call 0808 802 6666 

A free FamilyLine service that offers emotional and listening support, guidance or practical information to family members aged 18 years old and over from anywhere in England who are facing difficult situations including financial hardship, mental health problems, social isolation, learning disabilities, domestic abuse, or substance misuse and alcohol problems. Service is via telephone, text message, web chat or email. Available Monday to Friday, 9am – 9pm. Text message service: 07537 404 282, email: [email protected] There’s an out of hours service for people in crisis – leave a voice-message for a call-back service from a trained professional. In addition Family-Action provides SEND support and guidance to young people and their families. Text FAMILYACTION to 85258.

Beat Eating Disorders – Youthline 0808 801 0711. 

Youthline is a helpline for those under 18 and provides support and information about eating disorders. Helplines are open 365 days a year from 9am–8pm during the week, and 4pm–8pm on weekends/bank holidays. A further two helplines are available; Helpline for those over 18: 0808 801 0677; Studentline (for all students): 0808 801 0811. 1:1 webchats are also available.

NSPCC helpline – 0808 800 5000 

Helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or weekends 9am – 6pm. Staffed by trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support to anyone who is concerned or worried about a child’s safety or needs information and guidance.

Read More
August 9, 2021

Maturing Child Trust Funds – What You Need to Know

Our advocacy service has been making representation at the request of families to ask Government to review and redress this system of having to complete nearly  100 pages of a court application just to try to access a young persons savings and to open bank accounts where they have Autism or a learning impairment and need assistance with this. The rules being imposed mean that 150,000  young people  can’t access their money without permission from the Court of Protection.

The stance being taken by Government and the courts is informed by a prevailing concern that there may be a risk of savings that are made by a family for their child’s future being open to being abused by the very same family or unlawfully spent by the family concerned .

Many families have been saving for when their children reaches 18 to help to further independence, under the understanding that this money saved by them will not necessitate them having to them jump through procedural and procrastination hoops when they come to recalling it to benefit their disabled child. 

Families are now expected, in order to gain access to the saved funds, to complete a lengthy and time consuming application and to have acknowledgement of receipt within 10 days of submitting the 43 page application, but in reality, it is far in excess of 10 days that families have been hearing back; and then only to be issued with a further form containing another 50 pages to complete and return.

Numerous families have been struggling under the strain and the intricacies of the form content. 

Once the latter 50-page form is also completed and submitted, the laborious process then moves to a judge who then decides whether to grant the application based on the forms completed content.

The families consider the process could and should be simplified. 

The Ministry of Justice said in May to our advocacy service and to others making representation on the challenges with the forms  that the Court of Protection Rules Committee felt it “was not necessary or appropriate” to make applications more straightforward.

They also said that “more could be done to raise awareness that parents need to apply to the court”. This awareness raising relates to Government duties to do so.  

The complications and challenges with gaining access to funds saved first became clear a year ago when the first holders of child trust funds reached maturity.

These funds were set up in the early 2000’s and children can access their funds once they turn 18. However, parents/carers of disabled children found they couldn’t get the money on their young people’s behalf without what is known as a deputyship. This has also been an issue for those holding Junior ISA’s.

As Government considers that the number of people affected so far has been small it was felt by them that the issue did not warrant discussion, families noted. That number amounts to 150,000. 

So far, just four parents have been successful in going to court with our service helping them. 

When children were given the child trust fund monies, many families who have disabled children moved the money into a Junior ISA, or other routes, and added to this over the years in case so that by the time the trust fund could be accessed it has accrued several thousand pounds for the child concerned. 

Although many parents/carers are appointees for their children, which means the Department for Work and Pensions allows them to manage the young person’s benefits, they still have to make the lengthy application. The money that families are trying to access is needed in most cases for the next transition into the adulthood stage of their children’s life; hence from birth families are planning ahead to save for this transition and the need to access the funding at this very point in their children’s lives . 

Justice ministers Lord Wolfson and Alex Chalk MP admitted to the Conservative peer Lord Young last month that just 15 successful deputy applications featuring a child trust fund have been made to the Court of Protection in 11 months. Of these, only four were solely to access a child’s savings. 

This is deemed by families to be a shockingly low figure. 

We are aware of a significant back long of cases. 

We are grateful to the ministers who are now pledging to us that they will consult on a legislative fix to the lock-out before the end of the year. A Government working group was set up in January. The Ministry of Justice said it would announce proposals “in due course”. 

In the interim, we and partners have managed to secure some child trust fund or Junior ISA companies giving parents/carers access to their disabled  children’s money. This is via a doctor’s consent through a simpler process with just five forms, which is worth bearing in mind if you as a Sparkle Sheffield family are finding yourself in this conundrum.

One supporter saying: 

 “We believe they shouldn’t be made to jump through hoops,” said Teddy Nyahasha, the head of OneFamily, the biggest child trust fund firm.

This pragmatic and compassionate approach is very mich welcomed by us in Sparkle Sheffield .

We also hope that urgent changes with the court process will be imminently forthcoming as they cannot come soon enough for the sake of young disabled people and their parents/carers.

Read More
June 17, 2021

Sparkle Sheffield Membership Scheme

Sparkle Sheffield is a registered charity which looks to benefit children and young people with additional needs and their families. No diagnosis is required to access any of our services, although due to personal circumstances and experience we specialise in supporting those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This is done by providing parental support, education about the complexities of living with children with additional needs, and coping strategies to deal with the challenging behaviour that autism often presents. Helping the parent/carers to understand and help their children have a better quality of life and increase the child’s opportunities by targeting their main care givers understanding of the complex condition.

What is our membership scheme all about?

The Sparkle Sheffield membership scheme aims to incorporate a support package for families of autistic children.

Membership starts from just £20 per family, per year – however we are currently running this for FREE until August 2021.

In 2020, our members accessed a range of experiences, including…

  • Over 250 virtual events, including Taekwondo, drama lessons, circus shows, Christmas activities, science entertainers, family events, magic shows, bingo, dance classes and more!
  • #sparkleusabedtime stories read exclusively for us by a range of celebrities
  • Priority booking for in-person (where possible) and virtual events
  • Discounted access to wider events such as the World’s First Interactive Pantomime!
  • … and much much more!

As soon as it is safe to do so, we aim to have our in-person events back up and running! This includes social events and parent support sessions, as well as whole family and siblings only sessions. In the meantime, our virtual events continue every day (after school hours) with activities including Lego club, Among Us club, cooking classes and bedtime stories! Sparkle Sheffield membership means you can access these events either as individuals or as a whole family – everyone is welcome!

Our members also receive exclusive access to parts of our Sparkle Sheffield app – meaning you get more information than just what we share on our social media pages and website.

Fill in the forms using the link below – and we’ll be in touch with everything you need to know!

If you have any questions feel free to contact us on [email protected]

*** Eligibility Criteria ***

Membership is applicable per household, therefore completion of the application form in full is essential with details of all relevant individuals. Application forms will be screened by Sparkle Sheffield personnel, so please ensure that they are completed with as much detail as possible. A valid email address is required upon the commencement of membership, as communications, notifications and other information will be delivered via the given email address.

Evidence of additional needs will be required upon completion of the Sparkle Sheffield membership application form. This must be one of the following pieces of documentation;

  • A pathway letter (such as one from Ryegate, CAMHS or the local hospital) detailing an appointment with neurodisability, the paediatric assessments unit, or other investigating clinic or;
  • A letter detailing your/your child’s diagnosis or;
  • A letter confirming you/ your child’s entitlement to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

If you have any questions feel free to contact us on [email protected]

Read More
June 13, 2021

Applying for PIP (Personal Independence Payment)

DWP’s 14 questions to claim PIP and how much money you could receive each month

If you as a Disabled person or if you as a parent with a Disabled child who has a long term physical or mental health condition or impairment , you may want to consider applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

You can claim PIP from age 16 to State Pension Age.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is made up of two parts – a daily living part and a mobility part.

Whether you get one or both of these and how much you’ll get depends on how severely your child’s/ your condition affects you.

You’ll need an assessment to work out how much you’ll get. Yours/ your child’s rate will be regularly reviewed to make sure you’re getting the right support.

The health professional who conducts the assessment will base their questions on the answers you provide in the ‘How Your Disability Affects You’ ( or your child) evidence form, also referred to as the ‘PIP2’.

This form asks about how your/ your child’s health condition or disability/impairment affects you or your child on a daily basis and is your opportunity to explain fully and honestly how it impacts on your daily life.
Along with the form, you will also need to provide any supporting information as ‘evidence’ for your claim – this might be a letter from your doctor, specialist or social worker.

The form itself is quite straightforward and contains 10 activities for the daily living part and two for the mobility part – 14 questions in total.
The DWP will use your answers to look at whether you / your child can carry out these 12 activities safely and the amount of help you/ your child need to do so.

A score is given for each answer, which is why some people refer to this document as the ‘PIP test’.

If your total score for the daily living activities is between 8 and 11, your child/ you’ll be awarded the standard rate of PIP. If your score is 12 or more, you’ll be awarded the enhanced rate.

This points system is the same for responses given to the mobility questions.

However, the most common mistake that PIP claimants make when filling in the form, either by themselves, or having a family member or support worker do it for them, is that the answers are not detailed enough to accurately reflect how their condition affects them.

The reason for this is often that claimants/carers are so used to performing an activity or task in a way that works for them, that they do not realise how complicated or difficult it really is.

These ‘workarounds’ can make a huge difference when it comes to PIP awards and could result in someone receiving no additional financial support or the incorrect amount.

Our advice is to not rush completing the form, take a step back and imagine your child/ you’re doing the task or activity for the first time and explaining it to someone with the same condition as yourself – before your child/ you developed their/ your own workarounds.

While it may seem like a long process, remember, the assessor uses your answers to build a picture of how your impairments/ disability or health condition affects your child / you ( if you are Disabled and claiming for yourself) on a day-to-day basis.

And if the claim form is completed in full with comprehensive detailed information, the assessment may go more smoothly than you expect.

There are also ‘Additional Information’ sections at the end of each question which you should use to add any information that is relevant to the way your condition affects you.

This is particularly important if you feel you have answered questions that did not offer a real chance to demonstrate how your child/ you manage on a day-to-day basis.

While you do not have to fill in every free line available, do not submit your completed form until you are satisfied that when a complete stranger reads it, they will understand exactly how challenging every day can be.

We have listed all 14 questions you will be asked to complete on the form below to help you understand the process.

Here are the 10 daily activity question topics and possible maximum scores:-

Preparing food – scored out of 8
Eating and drinking – scored out of 10
Managing your treatments – scored out of 8
Washing and bathing – scored out of 8
Managing your toilet needs – scored out of 8
Dressing and undressing – scored out of 8
Communicating – scored out of 12
Reading – scored out of 8
Mixing with other people – scored out of 8
Making budgeting decisions – scored out of 6

Here are the 2 mobility question topics and possible maximum scores:

Planning and following a journey – scored out of 12
Moving around (outside the home) – scored out of 12

What are the current PIP payment rates?

You could be awarded the following amounts per week depending on your circumstances, which are paid every four weeks in arrears.

This means a successful claim could be worth between £23.70 and £608.60 every month.

Daily living component
Standard rate: £60.00
Enhanced rate: £89.60

Mobility component
Standard rate: £23.70
Enhanced rate: £62.55

Filling in the ‘how your disability affects you’ (or your child’s) claim form.

Below are all the questions on the claim form.

Q1: List your health professionals
You need to give the DWP details of any health professional you’ve seen about your child’s/your condition.

Q2: List your child’s/your conditions, medications and treatments
List all the physical and mental health conditions and impairments/ disabilities your child or you and the date they started.

Q3: Preparing and cooking a meal
This question is about how the condition(s) makes it difficult for your chikd/you to prepare a simple meal for one and heating it on a hob or in a microwave until it’s safe to eat.

Q4: Eating and drinking
This question is about how the condition (s) makes it difficult for your child/you to eat and drink. This means being able to cut up food into pieces, put it in your mouth, chew and swallow it. You should say if there is a need prompting or reminding to eat, as well if you have physical difficulties.

Q5: Managing treatments
This question is about how the health condition(s) makes it difficult for your child/you to:
– manage treatments
– monitor own health condition, including mental health and take action to
– stop the condition getting worse

Q6: Washing and bathing
This question is about whether the condition (s) makes it difficult for your child/ you to wash or bathe in a standard bath or shower that hasn’t been adapted in any way. It’s also about whether your child/you use any aids or appliances to help with washing or bathing.

Q7: Managing toilet needs
This question is about how the condition(s) makes it difficult for your child/you to:
– get on and off an unadapted toilet seat clean themselves/ yourself
– afterwards if applicable, manage incontinence

Q8: Dressing and undressing
This question is for you to describe any difficulties with dressing or undressing. This means putting on and taking off unmodified, appropriate clothes – including shoes and socks. ‘Appropriate clothes’ means clothes that are appropriate for:
– the weather
– the occasion
– the time of day

Q9: Communicating verbally
This question is about how the condition(s) makes it difficult for your child/you to:
– speak to others so that you’re understood
– hear and understand what other people are saying to them/ you

Q10: Reading
This question is about how the condition (s) makes it difficult for them/you to:
– read information that is a standard text size (not large print)
– read signs – for example, emergency exit signs
– read indoors and outside

Q11: Mixing with other people
This question is about how their/ your condition makes it difficult for them/ you to:
– meet people and mix with them
– judge situations when they’re/you’re with other people and behave appropriately
– establish relationships with people – for example make friends

Q12: Making decisions about money
This question is about how their/your condition makes it difficult for them/you to manage everyday purchases
This means things like:
– paying in shops and restaurants
– budgeting for and paying their/ your bills
– budgeting for bigger things such as a TV

Q13: Going out
This question is about how their/ your condition makes it difficult for them/ you to:
– plan and follow a route to a place they/you know (it doesn’t matter how they/ you get there)
– plan and follow a bus or train route to a place they/ you don’t know
– cope in places that they/you don’t know or if applicable, leave the house because of stress or anxiety

Q14: Moving around (outside the home)
This question is about how their/your condition makes it difficult for them/you to:
– stand safely outside without help walk safely outside without stopping and without help

Additional information
This is a blank page that you can use if you run out of space on the claim form. You can also use it to give any additional information you think necessary. There’s no right or wrong type of information to include but it’s a good idea to use this space to tell the DWP if:
– someone had to fill in the form for your child/ you and explain why
– your child or you filled in the form slowly or with pain
– filling in the form caused them/ you anxiety or stress,
– you’re attaching medical evidence to support your claim – for example, an EHCP , or other type of health or care plan

How to apply for PIP

To start the application process, you will need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 0800 917 2222 (textphone 0800 917 7777) where you can ask for a paper copy to be sent.

Read More
May 9, 2021

Disability Benefits and Entitlements

If you, or your child, have a disability or other long-term health condition, there is a range of support services – including financial support – out there.

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance, or DLA, is to help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:

  • is under 16
  • has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability

There are two components to DLA, care and mobility. Children will need to meet the eligibility criteria to be awarded this benefit, and the amount ranges between £23.70 and £152.15 per week.

More information can be found at

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, can help with some of the extra costs if you have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability. This is for people aged over 16, but under State Pension Age.

The amount you get depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. You’ll be assessed by a health professional to work out the level of help you can get.

There are two components to PIP, daily living and mobility. There are eligibility criteria in order to receive PIP, although you can work and receive PIP at the same time. The amount recieved ranges from £23.70 to £152.15 per week.

More information can be found at

Employment Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance, or ESA, is aimed at those who have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

As always, there are eligibility criteria including if you have been impacted by Covid-19.

The amount you will receive ranges between £59.20 and £114.10 per week.

More information on ESA can be found at

Carers Allowance

You can claim carers allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits (this includes DLA or PIP).

You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.

You do not get paid extra if you care for more than one person. If someone else also cares for the same person as you, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance (for example, only 1 parent can claim per child).

The amount is £67.60 per week, although claiming Carers Allowance does affect any other claimed benefits (for example, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit).

More information can be found at

Child Tax Credit Disability Premium

If you need extra help with the costs of bringing up children, you can now only make a new claim for Child Tax Credit if you’re getting Working Tax Credit. If you don’t, you’ll have to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you’re already getting Child Tax Credit and your child develops a disability or long-term health condition, you might
be able to claim an additional disabled premium for them.

The amount recieved ranges between £3,435 and £4,825 a year.

Usually Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit support is limited to the first two children if any were born after 6th April 2017. However, all disabled children are protected. So if you make a new claim you’ll still be able to get the disabled premium or disabled child addition for any of your children who are sick or disabled.

Find out more information about Child Tax Credit at

Universal Credit Housing Costs Element

Universal Credit Housing Costs Element can be applicable for those who already receive housing benefits. This benefit can cover more of the rent costs if a child in your household has a disability or long-term health condition.

More information can be found on Universal Credit at

If you’re a homeowner, and getting certain means-tested benefits including Universal Credit, you might be able to apply for support for mortgage, interest, which is paid as a loan. More information on homeowners benefits can be found at

Council Tax Discount

If you are responsible for paying Council Tax, a council tax discount could apply. More of your bill might be covered if a child in your household has a disability or long-term health condition.

To qualify for a reduction, your property must be the main home of at least one disabled person. This can be an adult or a child – it doesn’t have to be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax.

Your property must also have features that are essential, or of major importance, to the well-being of the disabled person, for example:

  • a room (other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet) that is used predominantly by the disabled person
  • an additional bathroom (excluding a toilet) or kitchen required to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • adaptations to allow the use of a wheelchair inside the property

In Sheffield, the reduction will be equivalent to re-banding your property into the next lower Council Tax band. The reduction for Band A properties will be the equivalent of one 9th of Band D.

Find out more and apply for a Council Tax discount in Sheffield at

Cold Weather Payments

Cold weather payments are available for those who receive certain benefits. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

The amount received is £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

You can find more information about Cold Weather Payments at

Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is different (and a separate payment) to the cold weather payments detailed above.

You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The scheme opens on 18 October 2021. The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.

Eligibility criteria applies – find out more at

Water Bill Discount

There’s a scheme in England and Wales called WaterSure, which is designed to help people struggling with their water bills. You may qualify if you’re on certain benefits and need to use a lot of water for medical reasons. You also need to be on a water meter (or be waiting to have one installed).

The scheme caps your water bill, so you won’t pay more than the average metered bill in your area – if you use less than the average, you’ll simply pay for what you use.

This scheme is to make sure that these customers don’t cut back on how much water they use because they are worried about how they will pay their bill.

Eligibility criteria apply, and can be found at

Motability and Blue Badges

People getting the higher rate mobility element of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment – the scheme can provide a car, motorised wheelchair or scooter.

For more information on Motability visit

Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge scheme helps you park closer to your destination if you have a disability or health condition that affects your mobility or you care for a child with a health condition. This includes using marked disabled bays when out and about.

People with hidden disabilities, including autism and severe mental health conditions, are able to apply for a Blue Badge as of 31 August 2019.

The Blue Badge scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.

The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:

  • cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
  • cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
  • have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)

In Sheffield, you can find out more, and apply for a blue badge, online at

Disabled Facilities Grant

You could get a grant from your council if you’re disabled and need to make changes to your home, for example to:

  • widen doors and install ramps
  • improve access to rooms and facilities – eg stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
  • provide a heating system suitable for your needs
  • adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use

The amount received is based on a case-by-case basis, but in England is up to £30,000. Depending on your income, you may need to pay towards the cost of the work to the property, however, disabled children under 18 years can get a grant without their parents’ income being taken into account.

More information on DFG’s can be found at, or for local information in Sheffield visit

VAT Exemption

If you’re disabled or have a long-term illness, the Government says you shouldn’t be charged VAT on items which have been designed or adapted for your personal use – for example, wheelchairs or equipment to help you get around your house. This also covers installation, repairs/maintenance and spare parts or accessories.

For VAT purposes, you’re disabled (or have a long-term illness) if:

  • You have a physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out everyday activities, eg, blindness.
  • You have a condition that’s treated as chronic sickness, like diabetes.
  • You’re terminally ill.

The Government says you don’t qualify if you’re elderly but able-bodied, or if you’re temporarily disabled.

See the Government’s VAT relief guidance for the full list, but examples include: 

  • Medical and surgical appliances
  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • Equipment to aid the hard of hearing, and low-vision aids
  • Specialist beds, chair and stairlifts, rise and recline chairs and other lifting equipment and sanitary devices
  • Goods that have been designed solely for disabled people
  • Computer equipment designed solely for use by disabled people
  • Emergency alarm call systems

Free Prescriptions

People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions if they have a valid medical exemption certificate. Free prescriptions apply to those over the age of 16 (children have free prescriptions as standard).

A medical exemption certificate:

  • entitles you to free NHS prescriptions only
  • doesn’t cover dental treatment or help with other health costs
  • should be shown when you collect a prescription
  • is valid for five years (or until your 60th birthday, whichever is sooner)

It’s your responsibility to check the expiry date, and if you claim free prescriptions after your certificate expires, you could have to pay a penalty charge of up to £100.

Find out more information at

Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by suppliers and network operators. Help you can get by being on the register includes;

  • Advance notice of planned power cuts
  • Priority support in an emergency
  • Identification scheme to reassure you that callers, for example meter readers, are genuine
  • Nominee scheme
  • Accessible information
  • Meter reading services at appropriate intervals

Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register. To get on it, you need to contact your energy supplier.

For more information visit

Disabled Students Allowance

If you’re over 18, studying and need help with costs you have to pay in relation to your course as the result of a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty, then disabled students’ allowances (DSAs) can help you. There are three different allowances:

  • Specialist equipment (up to £5,849). Such as a new computer, if you’re assessed as needing one.
  • Non-medical helpers (up to £23,258). For example, a sign-language interpreter.
  • General allowance (up to £1,954). For example, extra travel, photocopying and other disability-related costs.

Find more information on student support for those with disabilities at

Free Bus Travel

You can get discounted, or free, travel on public transport with a disabled person’s travel pass.

A disabled person’s travel pass enables free public transport for those who qualify within the South Yorkshire area. This is open to people aged 5 to 66 years old.

In Sheffield, you can find out more information and apply online at

Disabled Person’s Railcard

If you have a disability that makes travelling by train difficult, you may qualify for a Disabled Person’s Railcard.

It costs £20 for one year, or £54 for three years and gets you one-third off most train travel.

If you travel with another adult, they’ll also get one-third off their ticket. The accompanying adult does not have to have a disability, but does need to travel with you for the duration of the journey to qualify.

If your child (aged 5-15) has one of the eligible disabilities, they can apply for a Disabled Person’s Railcard (or you can apply on their behalf). They won’t get discounted child fares, but the card will allow one adult travelling with them to get one-third off.

Find more information and apply online at

Toll Charge Exemption

If you have a blue badge for disabled parking or receive certain benefits, you may be exempt from paying tolls on roads such as the M6. Criteria for exemption varies, and for some roads you may need to apply in advance – with others you can simply present your blue badge at the toll booth.

Check each toll separately as differing rules apply, but locations include;

  • M6 Toll
  • Dartford Crossing
  • Mersey Gateway Bridge and Silver Jubilee Bridge
  • Mersey Tunnels
  • Humber Bridge
  • Tyne Tunnels

Car Tax Exemption

If you’re disabled and receiving certain benefits, you may be exempt from paying vehicle tax, or be able to get a 50% discount. 

You can apply for an exemption if you get the:

  • Higher-rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA).
  • Enhanced-rate mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).
  • War pensioners’ mobility supplement.
  • Armed forces independence payment.

The vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name. It must only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs. It cannot be used by the nominated driver for their own personal use.

More information on tax exemption can be found at

Airport Assistance

If you have a disability, reduced mobility or difficulty with communication or social interaction, you have a legal right to special assistance when you travel. This applies on any flights out of the UK or anywhere in the EU, or if you’re flying to an airport in the EU (or UK) on an EU airline.

If you think you need special assistance, you can declare your disability to the airline. This should be done in advance in order that airports and airlines can prepare. If left until the last minute, support cannot be guaranteed.

The aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority says help is available from the moment you arrive at an airport and can cover:

  • Your journey through your departure airport
  • Boarding the aircraft and during the flight
  • Disembarking the aircraft
  • Transferring between flights
  • Travelling through your destination airport

Contact each airport/airline individually for more information.

Access Card

An issue many disabled people face is having to ‘prove’ they need special assistance or reasonable adjustments made, eg, at music venues or when dealing with service providers. One solution to this is to get an Access Card, which costs £15 for three years.

To apply, you’ll need to fill out a form and provide evidence of your disability, eg, a letter from your doctor. You’ll then be sent your Access Card, which will display symbols relevant to your needs – these can include wheelchair access, urgent toilet needs or difficulty with standing and queuing although there is a full list of conditions. The idea is that staff will quickly and discreetly understand what assistance you require.

While it’s not necessary to have an Access Card in order to get assistance, even in venues which specifically work with the scheme, many say it can make the process a lot easier if you can simply flash a card.

More information on the Access Card can be found at

Free Cinema Tickets

The CEA Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema. The card is in the child’s name, so any accompanying carer can enter for free.

The Card is also one way for cinemas to make sure they look after their disabled guests. If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, cinema staff should make them for you whether you have a CEA Card or not.

More information, and how to apply for a CEA card can be found at

Free/Discounted Access to Major Attractions

Lots of major attractions offer free, or discounted, entry for carers accompanying a disabled person. These can vary from a carer being admitted for free with a paying disabled person, or discounted entry for both the individual and an accompanying carer.

Theme parks often also issue queue jump passes, meaning that you won’t have to queue as long for a particular ride. These can sometimes be limited to certain days/times, for certain rides, or with T&C’s attached (for example, one ride per hour, or a limit on the number of people who can use the pass at once).

It’s always best to check out an attractions website before you attend, they will often list any discounts or accommodations they offer on there. If not, get in touch and ask in advance, it’s always best to know beforehand in case you are required to take photographic evidence or any other items with you.

If you know of any places or services offering discounts or benefits, please do let us know and we’ll add them to the list!

Read More