Parent Information - Additional Information & FAQ
Voluntary Organisations in NI
Your young adult may be involved with a voluntary organisation that can provide support during the transition from school to adult life or offer services when they leave school. In Northern Ireland there are a lot of organisations that provide different types of support to people with learning disability. Support can include structured day opportunities within community groups or social enterprises or employment programmes. There are also organisations that provide social and leisure opportunities. Each organisation will have their own eligibility criteria which may include where you live and what support your young adult requires. There may also be differences in the referral and application process and programmes may or may not have time limits.
Below is a brief overview of some voluntary organisations that are part of the Northern Ireland Association of Supported Employment who can support people with learning disability and/or Autism. This is not an exhaustive list and your social worker, school, careers advisors or transition co-ordinator may be able to provide you with details of other services in your area.
Specialist Employment Services
1. AEL (Access Employment Limited)
Larne, Co Antrim
2. Appleby Trust
Learning disability and Autism Spectrum
Armagh and Dungannnon
3. Cedar Foundation
Physical disability and Brian Injury and also deliver Autism Service
Northern Ireland wide
4. Clanrye Group
Pan disability including learning disability and Autism
Co. Armagh and Co.Down
5. Compass Advocacy Network
6. Disability Action
Pan disability (including learning disability and Autism)
Northern Ireland wide
7. Derry Youth and Community Workshop
Learning disability and Autism
8. Liberty Consortium
Learning disability and/or Autism
9. Mencap NI
Learning Disability and Autism
Northern Ireland wide
10. NOW Group
Learning disability and Autism
Belfast, Antrim & Newtownards, Ards and North Down and Mid & East Antrim
11. Orchardville Society
Learning disability and Autism
Belfast, Ards and North Down, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Derry~Londonderry, Strabane and Limavady
12. Specialisterne NI
13. Stepping Stone NI
Learning disability and Autism
Lisburn & Castlereagh Ards & North Down, Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon and Newry, Mourne and Down
14. Triangle Progression to Employment
Learning disability and Autism
Antrim, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Cookstown, Moyle,Ballymena, Ballymoney, Larne, Magherafelt, and Newtownabbey)
Pan disability (including learning disability and Autism)
Northern Ireland wide
Other useful resources: –
- Department for Communities is responsible for mainstream and specialist employment programmes to assist people to find work and provide in work support. Specialist employment programmes include:-
- Workable NI – in work support programme
- Access to Work NI – practical support for individuals and employers (such as specialised equipment, communication support, travel to work support etc)
For further information go to https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/employment-support/work-schemes-and-programmes
The Department for Communities has a network of 36 Jobs and Benefits Offices (hyperlink – https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/contacts/jobs-benefits-offices ) across Northern Ireland and also have an on-line recruitment site advertising job vacancies known as JobCentre On-line – https://www.jobcentreonline.com/JCOLFront/Home.aspx
- European Social Fund (ESF) Programme Directory 2018 – 2022. There are 67 ESF Projects of which 22 projects are funded to support people with disabilities to learn new skills and gain qualification as well as gain employability skill and gain employment. For further information go to https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/ESF-call-2-project-directory.pdf
Useful Contacts SEHSCT
Below is a list of venues and opportunities that offer various discounts/concessions to young people / adults with disabilities and/or their carer. This will support your young adult to get out and about in their local area to socialise.
South Eastern Area
Bangor Aurora and Blair Mayne Leisure Centre
Bangor Aurora and Blair Mayne Leisure Centre, Newtownards offer a ‘Buddycard’ which entitles the carer to gain free entry and priority queuing eg for swimming. You can obtain an application form from reception. Simply fill in and return in person or via post.
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum offer free of charge admission for carers and the child and priority queuing for children with ASD. Just let the staff at the ticket desk know.It is advisable to email before your visit email@example.com or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children age 4 and under are free.
Castle Espie, Comber provide free entry for carers. Simply explain at reception that you are a carer or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children age 4 and under are free.
Lisburn Leisureplex and Dundonald Icebowl
Lisburn Leisureplex and Dundonald Icebowl – Lisburn and Castlereagh Borough Council offer a ‘Buddycard’ which entitles the carer to gain free entry and priority queuing eg. for swimming, bowling, ice skating. You can obtain an application form from reception. Simply fill in and return in person or via post. You will need to pay a £5.00 administration charge upon collection of the card.
The Ark Open Farm
The Ark Open Farm provide free entry for carers. Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. Children age 3 and under are free.
Exploris Aquarium provide free entry for carers. Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. Children age 2 and under are free. Exploris is fully accessible.
Downpatrick Leisure Centre
Downpatrick Leisure Centre offer a ‘Buddycard’ which entitles the carer to gain free entry and priority queuing eg. for swimming. You can obtain an application form from reception. Simply fill in and return in person or via post. You will need to pay a £5.00 administration charge upon collection of the card.
Contacts Belfast Area
The Grand Opera House
The Grand Opera House – Essential Assistance – offer one companion seat to customers with disabilities who requires essential assistance to attend the theatre. Your companion must be able to assist you in the event of an evacuation. Please note, only patrons over 14 years old may avail of this offer. This offer is not open or intended for those who simply want a companion or require assistance with transportation to the theatre.
The person applying should be in receipt of one of the following:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Attendance Allowance (AA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Blind Persons Registration
- Disabled SMART Pass
- cESA – Employment and Support Allowance Contributory Group
- Industrial Injuries Benefit
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (with Guaranteed Income Payment only)
- Cred – Ability Card
Medical Authorisation – contact box office for more details
SSE Arena – ESSENTIAL AID TICKETS
We offer a number of essential aid or carers tickets (subject to availability) at discounted or no charge for concerts and events.
The Belfast Giants offer a concession rate instead.
This is eligible to customers who meet the criteria below and would be unable to attend an event without the support of another person, who can assist in the event of an emergency. These tickets need to be applied for via our Box Office at the time of purchase of the tickets.
Given the ability for the Arena to be used in an endless variety of formats, the precise combination of wheelchair spaces will be determined on an event by event basis dependent on event format, and where practicable, a choice of locations are offered.
How to apply:
Tickets within the wheelchair areas can be purchased online or via the Arena Box Office, however The SSE Arena strongly recommends that customers with disabilities notify them at the time of booking of any additional requirements or assistance needs in order to offer the best possible service.
To facilitate this, we have set up a database where we can hold details of those customers that need assistance to make it easier to make a booking and when attending a performance.
Customers can complete the Access Requirement form and submit it via email or post directly to the Arena, where they will be assigned a customer number. Then each subsequent time they want to make a booking, it is as simple as contacting the SSE Arena Box Office and quoting the customer number for our team to be able to help facilitate your requirement.
We ask that you provide one of the following when submitting your access requirement form –
- Front page of DLA (no specific rate required)
- Front page of Attendance Allowance letter (no specific rate required)
- Front page of PIP (no specific rate required)
Evidence that registered severely sight impaired (blind)
- Recognised Assistance Dog ID card
W5 offer free of charge admission for carers and priority queuing for children with ASD. It is advisable to email before your visit firstname.lastname@example.org or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children under 3 are free.
Titanic Belfast provide free entry for carers. Simply make yourself known as a carer at the Visitors Service’s Desk and they will print you out a free carers ticket. You can also receive priority queuing however it is advisable to email before your visit email@example.com. Please not that certain parts of the centre are not accessible for prams and wheelchairs however they will do all they can to accommodate these.
Belfast Zoo provide free entry for carers and priority queuing for children with ASD. It is advisable to email before your visit firstname.lastname@example.org or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children age 4 and under are free.
Streamvale Farm provide free entry for carers. Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. Children age 3 and under are free.
Contacts Northern Ireland & Ireland
The National Trust
The National Trust offer an ‘Access For All Card’ which entitles the carer to gain free entry at any National Trust site. The card is issued in the child’s name and it doesn’t have to be the same carer every time so grandparents, childminders etc. can use it. It is free of charge and it is valid for 1 year. Simply email email@example.com with ‘Access For All Card’ in the subject field. Provide the child’s name, condition/proof of diagnosis, date of birth and address and they post out to you within a few weeks.
National Trust now also offer a junior membership (children age 5-18) for only £10.00, which is valid for 1 year. Children under 5 are free.
Cinema – Children over 8 can apply for a CEA card which entitles the carer to gain free entry into the cinema-most cinemas accept it. Simply apply online or via post at ceacard.co.uk. You will be asked for proof of your child’s age, e.g. birth certificate/passport and an I.D. size photo of your child. They also charge a £6.00 administration fee for the card and it is valid for one year. It can take a week to receive the card.
Barry’s Amusements, Portrush – They provide a priority queuing pass for children with ASD, which allows them to access to a ride via an alternative route. Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report at the Information Desk at the entrance of Barry’s. Please note, as advised on their website, guests without suitable documentation will not be issued with a pass.
Mountpanther Farm – They provide free entry for carers. Simply explain at reception that you are a carer or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children under 2 are free. They also offer an admission discount for midweek, Monday – Friday.
Armagh Planetarium provide free entry for carers. Children under 16 are charged at £5.00 each. Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report.
Marble Arch Caves
Marble Arch Caves provide free entry for carers. Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. Children under 5 are free, however they still need a ticket. It is advisable to call prior to your visit due to water levels in the caves and to book your space on a tour. The caves, however, are not wheelchair or pram accessible and there is a lot of walking and steps, so it may not be suitable for some families.
Seaforde Butterfly House and Maze
Seaforde Butterfly House and Maze offer a discounted rate for the disabled person and their carer.
Butterfly House only:
£ 3.35 / child
£ 5.15 / adult
Combined ticket for the Butterfly House, Maze and Gardens:
£5.00 / child
£8.85 / adult
Simply present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report.
Dublin Zoo provide free entry for carers and reduced entry for disabled children, €5.80. They also give priority queuing for children with ASD. It is advisable to email before your visit firstname.lastname@example.org or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children age 3 and under are free.
Tayto Park, Dublin provide free entry for carers and a reduced entry for disabled children and adults, €12. They also give priority queuing for children with ASD for up to 8 rides, with the priority card provided for the child and their family. It is advisable to email before your visit, email@example.com or present your DLA entitlement letter or diagnosis report. It is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Children age 3 and under are free.
Funtasia Water Park
Funtasia Water Park, Dublin provide free entry for carers. Adults and children over 3 are charged at €12. They also give priority queuing for children with ASD. It is advisable to email before your visit (especially during the summer months), firstname.lastname@example.org or present your DLA entitlement letter, carers allowance letter or diagnosis report. Children age 3 and under are free.
Social Security Benefits and other grants available in the UK
Below are potential benefits parents or their children may be entitled to. This is an area that regularly changes so it is best to seek advice from an Independent Advice centre, the NI Direct website or use the Make The Call facility at your local social security office. They include:
- Disability Living Allowance (Children) or Personal Independence Payment (Adult)
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Carers Allowance
Self Directed Support
This is a fund which is available through your Health Trust and enables parents/carers and people with disabilities to take control of how their individual health and social care budget or allowance is spent. There are a number of options available with most parents using the Direct Payment element to employ a support worker to assist their young person to access opportunities in the community, usually social and leisure. You can also opt for a Managed Budget which means that an organisation will provide the support instead of the family employing support staff. Your social worker can discuss this in detail with you and will assess your young persons need and determine if this option is suitable and how many hours can be paid for.
Blue Badge Scheme
A £10 administration fee and passport sized photo required. You will automatically be entitled if you receive DLA High Rate Mobility Component, however you may still be entitled under section C1 if you have a supporting letter from a medical professional. Cases are assessed individually.
Disabled Persons Allowance
25% Rate Reduction – apply for this rate reduction if your home has been adapted for your child’s needs e.g. therapy room, sensory room, additional bathroom/toilet/shower (see Land and Property Service website for more details and application form)
The Cauldwell Fund For Children
The Family Fund
ENTITLEMENTS – IRELAND
When your son or daughter was a child, you may have received credits or payments such as the Respite Grant or Domiciliary Care Allowance. At the age of 16, these benefits generally end, and your son or daughter becomes eligible for other benefits and services in their own right. However, there may also be benefits available to you if your son or daughter remains in your care.
A few of the most relevant benefits are outlined in this section. However, there are many different benefits and entitlements relating to education, housing, employment, and more based on individual circumstances. You can visit Citizens Information to learn more about tax credits and reliefs and other entitlements to those with a disability.
Disability Allowance is a means-tested, weekly payment made to those aged 16- 65 who are substantially restricted from working as a direct result of their disability. This payment is available even if they still attend school. Disability Allowance is generally paid directly to the individual; however, the Department of Social Protection may appoint you as an agent to manage funds with or on behalf of, and for the benefit of your son or daughter, where it is deemed that such assistance is required.
An application must be completed and sent to the department of social welfare. The application can be printed online here, or you can pick up a copy at your local Intreo office or Citizens Information Centre.
If your young adult is approved for the Disability Allowance payment, they can also receive a free travel pass. This allows them to travel using most public transport services like the bus, rail, and Dublin Luas for free.
If they already have a public services card, the free travel card will be automatically provided when Disability Allowance is approved. If not, an application will need to be completed, which can be found on the Citizens information page in their how to apply section.
If a medical professional such as a GP has decided that the young adult requires assistance to travel, free travel will extend to and additional adult, a companion.
Getting Help – Advocacy
In Ireland, the National Advocacy Service (NAS) provide a free, confidential service to assist individuals in understanding their rights and options, making decisions, and accessing services and supports. They may be contacted by the person in need, a family member, or any other concerned individual, but will always work to represent the interests and wishes of the individual. Upon contacting the NAS, an appointed advocate will meet with the individual to establish the person’s needs and wishes, and explain how they might help.
Benefits Available to Carers
In some instances, parents of adults with a disability will remain eligible for payments or tax credits. This is generally true where the adult child remains home and under the family’s care.
You will find a much more comprehensive list of benefits on the Citizens Information page, but here are a few that may apply:
- Carer’s Allowance is a means-tested payment to those looking after someone who needs substantial support because of age, physical or learning disability or illness, including mental illness.
- Carer’s Benefit is not means-tested and may be available to carers who wish to leave the workforce for a period of up to 104 weeks to care for a person(s) in need of full-time care. Those accessing Carer’s benefit are entitled to Carer’s leave from work, protecting their job.
- Incapacitated Child Tax Credit is available to parents where a child is over 18 years of age and unable to support themselves.
Home Carer Tax Credit is available to married couples or civil partners (who are jointly assessed for tax) where one works in the home caring for a dependent person, including a person with a disability who requires care.
Planning for leaving education starts from age 14 at the Transition Planning Review which is organised by the Education Authority. Most parents usually wait until the penultimate year at school to research in more detail the options and application process and will involve their son/daughter at this stage. This is a good time to begin to gradually prepare young people for what they will do when they leave school. Preparing for leaving school can take a long time as new skills and independence will need to be developed. In the Preparationsection there are some practical ideas about what tasks you could begin asking your son/daughter to do to develop their independence around the house and when out in the community.
There are a number of agencies that can offer support, advice and guidance about post school options. They include the school, Transition Co-Ordinators from the Education Authority, your Social Worker, Careers Advisors and voluntary organisations that your son/daughter is involved with. Support can include information about potential options, how to apply for a place, arranging visits and practical support with preparing your child for leaving school. Agencies can also provide advice on social security entitlements and other adult services such as respite or supported living options.
This is very individual and will depend on the assessed needs of your young person as well as the option they are choosing. For example some college courses offer four days per week and some statutory and voluntary providers do not offer a full time programme either. It’s important to discuss with your social worker at an early stage the number of days your son/daughter may be offered as this can have implications for other aspects of home life eg parental working hours, availability of supervision etc
Most providers are more than happy to receive phone calls from parents and arrange an informal visit to see around a service without making a commitment. A social worker can also arrange for more formal opportunities to visit services which are funded by the Health Trusts. Many colleges and voluntary providers offer open days which young people, as well as their parents/carers, can attend.
Having a social worker often depends on the assessed needs of your young person. If you are considering applying for services that are funded by your local Health Trust you will need a social worker to assist with this. A social worker can guide you and your young adult through the process and inform you of available services and options. They can also assist you to complete the application to services including day opportunities as well as respite and supported living options.
This will depend on the service your son/daughter transitions to. For example, statutory day care services usually provide transport while Further Education colleges do not usually provide transport. An exception is BMC which may be able to provide transport for the first year depending on where you live. Voluntary sector day opportunity providers such as Orchardville, Promote, Triangle etc generally do not provide transport.
Transport options available include DATS which is managed by Disability Action and local Community buses such as Down Community Transport. You can register for these options by viewing their websites and your young person usually needs to be in receipt of DLA or PIP. Young people can apply for a Translink Smartpass which will entitle them to half price travel on buses and trains.
The cost of attending services is either met through a contract providers have with the Health Trust or in some situations through Self Directed Support (SDS) either as a direct payment or managed budget. Employment programmes are usually funded by the European Social Fund, Department for the Communities and Health Trusts. You may be asked to make a small contribution towards the cost of activities your son/daughter takes part in and most providers usually encourage young people to have a small amount of cash with them each day if they are out in the community and want to buy a coffee or their lunch.