Wigan Council Updates
Wigan Council are providing as many updates as possible through the Wigan Council website, and you can find things like the latest updates and advice on Covid-19 and any suspended services here (https://www.wigan.gov.uk/index.aspx&source=gmail&ust=1586343723950000&usg=AFQjCNH90BEoXp1hym-dnvy7fNTNuFg15 Q"> https://www.wigan.gov.uk/index.aspx )
We know that a number of individuals, families and businesses will be affected by Covid-19 and may mean they start to struggle financially. More information on the support available can be found here (https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Benefit-Grants/Benefit-Grants.aspx&source=gmail&ust=1586343723950000&usg=AFQjCNEXS0sJkrB0VA2bwa0nNR7J4L0Dk A"> https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Benefit-Grants/Benefit-Grants.aspx ). Which includes information on areas such as:
- Support with council tax reduction, discount and exemption
- Housing benefit support
- Eligibility for universal credit
- Applying for free school meals
- Business rate relief
New webpages are being written and made live to support residents, tenants and businesses providing advice, support and signposting to support services. And we will continue to update you as these become available.
A new contact helpline and digital offer to support vulnerable residents that are self-isolating went live on 24th March, signposting to relevant community groups or supported through the Service Delivery Footprint (SDF) Community Hubs for additional support, if they have no one else to turn to. SDF Community Hubs are being set up across the borough working with voluntary networks to support residents. Requests for support can be made by completing our ‘Self-isolation Welfare Support’ form at http://www.wigan.gov.uk/bekind&source=gmail&ust=1586343723950000&usg=AFQjCNGAoFSpNh96GZC_P7YVBi8SnOnFJ w">www.wigan.gov.uk/bekind or by calling the support line on 01942 489018.
We are also providing a general welfare support offer over the phone which customers can access by ringing 01942 705 221. Food parcels are also being made available at Wigan Life Centre to support customers.
Key Working Co-Ordinator
People Directorate Children Adults and Families
Wigan Life Centre (South site), College Avenue, Wigan WN1 1NJ
Dear Parents and Carers
I hope you are all keeping well at these challenging times.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to reassure you that wherever possible autism panel assessments will still be going ahead.
We have been thinking of different ways of working through the coming months of social distancing and working from home, that will not impact your child’s waiting time for a panel assessment. We have had a proposal agreed by Health and Education to hold virtual multi agency panel assessments during this time.
I would like to reassure you all that whilst this is a different way of working in the short term, we will ensure every case adheres to NICE guidelines.
Following on from your child’s panel discussion the normal processes will still be in place, you will be informed of the panel outcome by a phone call from me and a letter sent to yourselves and school in the normal way. If you have any questions, worries or concerns, please get in touch. I will be happy to help.
ASC Pathway Manager
ASC Pathway Manager
People Directorate Children Adults and Families
Wigan Life Centre (South)
PArent Carer Forum's Questions from families to LA
Dear Parents, Carers, Families and Young People
COVID-19: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Education, Health and
Care Plans (EHCPs)
I hope that you and your family are well at this very challenging time. Apologies for the
delay in our communication to you, we have been working through the initial
emergency planning procedures and implementing the Guidance from Government
which as I am sure you are aware is updated or changing daily!
I want to assure you that we have not forgotten our families and that we really
appreciate your patience and support at this time while we work through this together.
I am also writing to update you on what we are doing to continue to ensure that children and
young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) continue to be able to
access education during the Covid-19 pandemic. As you will know, children with SEND face
particular challenges at the current time as do their families, and those who support them,
care for them and provide the education opportunities they deserve.
I want to reassure you that we are here to support you as much as we possibly can through
these uncertain times. We will continue to ensure that our systems and processes are still in
operation, and that we continue to ensure that your needs are met as much as possible,
whilst respecting the requirements of public protection.
Specifically, I want to outline the actions we are taking, in response to Government
guidance, and the approach which is set out in the Minister’s open letter, which is attached
for your information):
a. The SEND Team – the team are working remotely at the moment. We will do all
we can to continue to respond to queries and requests for advice, but please bear
with us as it may take longer than usual for us to respond.
b. Support – We will be launching a website this week with lots of advice and
guidance and we also have a specific number (01942 489018) you can call if you
need any support.
SENDIASS and the Parent Carers Forum are still available to support and have
some specific Facebook and WhatsApp groups that families may find useful;
Facebook Support Group: http://bit.ly/WPCFParentPower
WhatsApp (new) : http://bit.ly/WPCFWhatsApp
c. Keeping as many schools open as possible – we are working with schools to
ensure as many stay open as possible to support the most vulnerable, and children
of critical key workers, this is also during school holidays.
d. Special schools staying open, and working together – we are working with our
special schools to retain their provision. Although Landgate had to close temporarily,
we will continue to work with them to reopen as required.
e. Ensuring the needs of children placed out of area are prioritised – we are
ensuring that we are in regular contact with all schools to ensure they continue to be
providing the support our children deserve.
f. Risk assessing and variations to EHCPs – we are risk assessing each child and
young person with an EHCP. This look at each individual child/young person need
and will incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents
wherever possible. This will inform the decision about whether needs should continue
to be met in school or college, or whether needs can be met at home safely. The
Coronavirus Act 2020 allows the Secretary of State, where appropriate, to
temporarily lift the statutory duty on local authorities to maintain the precise provision
in EHC plans; with local authorities needing instead to apply ‘reasonable endeavors’
to support children and their families.
g. Hop, Skip & Jump, Crossroads and Leisure 4 All – we have been able this
week to agree retaining the Hop, Skip and Jump service with support through the
Council. They will aim to continue the delivery of this service when the current
situation allows. We have also ensured the continue funding of Crossroads to enable
them to continue to operate in Wigan. So, in the meantime they along with Leisure 4
All will be providing support where needed to families.
These are uniquely challenging times, and we need to continue to balance the need to
operate as much as possible with the need to safeguard you, staff and partners. We are
working hard to keep things moving forward and once thinks are calmer we will continue to
prioritise the SEND transformation work.
I can assure you we are doing everything we can to ensure that you continue to receive the
best possible support during this difficult time. We have attached responses to some specific
questions that were raised by the Parent Carer Forum that I hope you will find useful.
Karen Turner Cath Pealing
Enhanced Service Manager AD Education
SHORT BREAKS UPDATE
Short Breaks guidance for parents and carers relating to COVID-19
Government guidance is very clear that children and young people with special
educational needs and/or disabilities should stay at home with their families during
the current period, where it is safer for them to do so.
For some children with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs), parents and
schools will decide that the child or young person’s needs can be met best if they
continue to attend school. The Local Authority is working with schools, early years
settings and colleges to make sure that all children and young people who need to
attend, are able to attend. Children who may need to attend school include those
who have EHCPs, other vulnerabilities, and those whose parents are key workers,
Government guidance recommends that households stay at home for most of the
day except for a maximum hour a day exercising or shopping. It also recommends
social distancing - keeping a distance of 2 meters from people who are not part of
the household. This means that families should not be having visitors who are not
part of their household.
A very small number of families have children with significant support needs that are
usually met through a short breaks provider coming into the home. This might be to
help the parent by providing sitting services or personal care for the child/young
person. Other families may receive support from a provider to take the child/young
person out of the home to access community activities.
During this unprecedented time, the local authority is advising parents/carers to
consider whether it is absolutely necessary to their own and their child’s needs to
have a short breaks provider visiting their home.
If this is necessary to keep the child safe and to prevent carer burnout, the Well Child
charity has produced some useful advice on how to manage carers coming to the
The charity also has some advice on keeping children with complex needs safe at
If it is essential for a child’s wellbeing that they continue to be taken out of the home
by a befriending service provider, both the child and provider should follow
government guidance on handwashing and social distancing. The provider should
ensure the child/young person is only out of the house for the one hour a day
permitted and is kept away from crowded areas to allow for social distancing. The
worker should avoid taking the child on public transport.
If any member of the household or the service provider suspects they have the virus,
they should immediately self-isolate and follow all government health guidance.
The local authority is working with short breaks providers to make sure they can stay
in business and where possible continue to provide their usual short breaks services
to families once the Coronavirus emergency is over. Across Children’s Services we
are working with teams and our commissioned providers to identify children, young
people and families who require additional support. Some of our commissioned
providers will help us to stay in contact with you via phone or digital platforms to see
if there is anything specific we can support you with.
Overnight short breaks
The vast majority of disabled children are safest staying within their own household.
Children and young people who receive a residential overnight short break may
continue to do so only if the parent/social worker and provider agree that the
child/young person will be safer continuing to receive this than being looked after full
time at home. However, at this time overnight short breaks have been reduced to 2
nights per week (on days that they are open). Please contact Targeted Disability
Team if you usually access this and are struggling.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Can we still have the targeted direct payment for a befriender during these
In the current circumstances we can’t agree to you using your direct payment for a
befriender unless there are exceptional reasons, however we will support you to look
at other ways this payment could be used. You could bank your hours and use them
later in the year to pay for a befriender, or you could use your money to buy
equipment for your child to use at home to keep them occupied or help them get
some exercise, while you get a break.
Ideas for using your direct payment: what about a television subscription, equipment
such as games, sensory toys, I-pads, 3D Virtual stuff, big tent for the garden /
indoors, cookery equipment, indoor mini gym equipment.
These are just some ideas, if you are not sure what you can spend your money on,
contact the Targeted Disability Team duty social workers on 01942 828468.
My child has a specialist short break payment can we still have this payment
as my Personal Assistant says she is happy to carry on?
If the only way your child’s needs can be met is through help from a Personal
Assistant, yes, as long as you are following Public health England guidance:
Sessions may need to take place in the home. Also, look at the guidance from Well
Child charity: https://www.wellchild.org.uk/2020/03/18/seven-rules-for-managing-
If my Personal Assistant is not happy to continue can I still pay them?
If you employ your own Personal Assistant, you could ask them if they are willing to
bank the hours they normally provide for use later in the year. You could pay your
PA for the next month while you both review the situation. The PA may be entitled to
government support while they are not able to provide short breaks services to
The local authority is working with agencies that provide personal assistance and
befriending services for families, to make sure they are able to continue offering
services once the Coronavirus situation is over
Will my short break service still continue?
This will depend on the service you are receiving. If your service provider is not
able to operate at this current time we may consider a another form of support or if a
direct payment would be an appropriate temporary alternative to meet your family’s
needs. For instance, if you normally receive a befriending service to take your child
to the gym, we could look at providing a direct payment for play or exercise
equipment that your child can use at home.
Alternatively, you could bank the hours you usually receive from the short breaks
service and have them once life is back to normal.
If the child/young person is accessing school would this count as a short
break offer rather than banking hours?
Many schools will be able to offer some support to children of key workers and
vulnerable children, including disabled children over school holidays, so check with
your child’s school as this may provide the break you need currently.
If this is not the case the local authority would recommend you banking the hours
until the current restrictions are lifted.
Can I use my direct payment to pay a member of my family?
The government guidance on minimising contact with people outside your household
also applies to family members. It is especially important for older people, such as
grandparents who are over 70 or who have underlying health conditions to stay and
You could use your direct payment to buy play equipment which other members of
the family who live in your household could use with your disabled child.
What about playschemes? If they are not running will there be an alternative?
Schools can continue to offer support to vulnerable children and children of key
workers over school holidays. Speak to your school about what is available.
Hop Skip and Jump and Leisure for All after school clubs and holiday clubs are not
currently operating due to government guidelines, however there will still be some
outreach support offered where needed. This however is limited, and the offer is
dependent upon individual circumstances and needs, and in line with government
guidelines and when safe to do so. Again if you feel you need to access this support
then please contact Targeted Disability Team.
What help will I get through this time?
● Regular updates / resources through the Councils website and Facebook
● We will be launching a website this week with lots of advice and guidance and
we also have a specific number (01942 489018) you can call if you need any
welfare support for example food banks, other financial support.
● Connection with other parents though the Wigan Parent Carer Forum
https://wiganpcf.org.uk/and the Facebook Page:
● SENDIASS: will continue to offer advice and guidance on the telephone and
other platforms. https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Education/Special-
● Wigan Council Corona Virus Help Line and updates:
● Please visit Wigan Council’s #bekind website- if you require any additional
help and/or support - www.wigan.gov.uk/bekind
My child is bored at home. How can I keep them occupied?
All schools are sending out resources to pupils who are at home and putting
resources on their websites. Special schools are also sharing resources on their
websites that are suitable for primary and secondary pupils with special educational
The council is currently co-ordinating contact with families through council teams, our
commissioned providers and Schools.
Encourage your child to keep in touch with their friends and relatives through phone
calls or social media following the national on-line safety advice.
I was due for a short breaks review - how will this now happen so I can
continue to get short breaks support?
Your social worker or key worker will contact you to arrange for your support to
continue if you still need it until they can arrange for a proper review. They may
need to change the type of support you receive depending on your individual
Covid 19 Approved Letter - Autism/LD
I hope everyone is keeping well! Sorry for the confusion and delay in getting this letter to you.
In line with the COVID-19 updated government guidance from 9th April, on the relaxation of advice on leaving your home for the purpose of exercise for people with learning difficulties and/or autism, please find attached an approved letter for parents/carers and residents of Wigan borough to carry with them if they were to be stopped by police. Please print and fill in your relevant personal information and use this letter only when needed. I have attached the letter in 3 formats, PDF, word document and easy read format.
The updated advise states that.....
The Government has now published new guidance< https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do > making clear that, if you're autistic or have a learning disability, you can leave your home more than once a day and travel beyond your local area if this is important to your health. If you need carers with you, they don't have to stay the two metres apart from you that is usually required by social distancing. However, it is still important to be careful and only go out when you really need to, to reduce the chance of getting ill or infecting other people.
Please can we ask all families to follow the guidance below:
* Each child must be accompanied at all times by a parent or carer
* If you are over the age of 18 you can leave your house alone or with a carer
* Wherever possible, please carry your diagnosis letter alongside this residents letter or prof of ID
* Only leave your home when absolutely necessary, following social distancing measures
* Stay as close to your home as possible
* This letter must not be shared on social media and is for use by you or your child only
* Anyone found to be in breach of this criteria will have the letter removed
Elaine Walker/Danny Dowd
ASC Pathway Manager/Engagement Officer
People Directorate Children Adults and Families/Adult Health and Social care
Wigan Life Centre (South)
Letter can be found here:
Home to school Transport
Letter regarding the re-opening of schools.
Responses from Wigan Council to queries raised by families in calls and online session.