SEND News, Information & Support

Information and advice available from Variety, the children’s charity.

Dear friend,

I want to update you on some exciting news from Variety.

As someone who works with children and young people you will know that families all over the UK are finding it hard to manage the demands of home schooling and the current restrictions on movement are proving to be really tough. We know from the families we support that the effects of being stuck inside and the change of routine can be difficult for both children and their parents, but for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities this can be even harder.

Variety is here to help.

We have developed a new range of support resources for families which we hope will help them navigate the time in lockdown to reduce anxiety, help their children remain calm and focused, and ultimately to relax and enjoy being together more. We also hope that they will go on being helpful long after this awful situation is over, and wanted to make you aware of these resources so you can share them with the families you support.

Pod-Ability, Variety’s new podcast

Our podcast series offers inspiration and support along with practical tips while tackling the often complex challenges facing the parents and families of disabled children. With topics ranging from education choices, access to activities and more lockdown-specific areas such as managing your child’s sensory needs at home, episodes feature relevant experts as well as parents who are experiencing the same issues. The podcast can be downloaded from the Variety website, iTunes and other podcast platforms. The latest episode, which focuses on managing your child’s mental health and wellbeing during the lockdown, is available now.

Listen now

Pod-Ability Facebook support group

This closed group offers a safe, private space for the parents and families of children with SEND to share experiences, swap information, and provide support and understanding. It uses the Variety Pod-Ability podcasts as conversation starters and whether a child has a formal diagnosis or not, parents are welcome to join.

Join the group  

Make your own sensory kit!

We have also recently launched our new guide to making your own sensory resources at home. With the aim of helping parents and carers to support their child’s sensory inputs more effectively, all of the ideas can be made from items lying around the house or, if not, they can be picked up easily and cheaply.

The guide will be of particular benefit for children and young people with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other conditions which affect a child’s sensory profile. Packed with over 30 ideas for how to provide stimulation across all the senses, how to calm and relax and how to help with focus and concentration, the guide is available to download free from the Variety website. Please share through your networks and pass onto any parents or carers you think might need a bit of extra help at the moment.    

Get the sensory kit guide here.

Variety funding for specialist equipment and Sunshine Coaches

Our regular grant giving programmes are still running, and we continue to accept applications in the usual way. You can find more detail about what Variety funds in our information leaflet.

Families who need specialist equipment such as communication aids, specialist car seats, orthopedic seating, wheelchairs, eating assistants and more can apply for a grant via our website.

Organisations are also eligible to apply for a grant as well as for one of our Sunshine Coaches, please visit our website for more information. 

We hope that you and the families you work with will find these resources useful as the lockdown restrictions continue. We’d love to hear from you on anything featured here so let us know what you think of the sensory guide or what topics you think we should cover in Pod-Ability by emailing me at

With my very best wishes at this difficult time.

Dave King

Head of Programmes