Latest News and Events

CENTRE ALGARVE – Holiday Centre for people with special needs

Set in the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve – Portugal, just 2 minutes from the village of Moncarapacho, The Centre Algarve is mainland Europe’s only specialist holiday centre which is fully equipped to allow people with special needs young and old to experience a wonderful holiday with their family or carers.

Facilities include, multi-sensory discovery centre, animal experience, swimming pool, sensory and vegetable gardens and sensory room.

For full details please visit their website:

Centre Algarve flyer



Shortbreaks for Disabled Children and young People are offering free Max Cards to Essex County Council residents (excluding Southend and Thurrock) Max Card is a national, local authority commissioned discount scheme for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0-19 years. The scheme enables families to visit a huge range of attractions across the UK at a free or discounted rate.  The card would cover 2 adults and 2 children and lasts for two years Families simply need to show their Max Card on arrival to obtain discounted admission into any of the 1100 attractions listed on the website and in some occasions pre-book before your visit.

To apply please email the following details to

  • Name of child
  • Name of adult
  • Address
  • Contact number

If you are not currently registered with Shortbreaks you may be asked for some further details including confirmation of diagnosis.

Details of where you can use you the Max Card and also what discount and if pre-booking is needed can be found by clicking the link below and there is also on-line offers including merlin passes

The Max Card team are also prioritising attractions across Essex so if you have any suggestions on attractions please feel free to pass this on via email to or by calling 01133 947 951


iS ESSEX Drop In Sessions

EHCP ‘Drop In’ Session for Parent Carers

Please join Independent Support Essex for an information Session to help plan for the transfer of your son/daughters Statement of SEN to an Education Health & Care Plan (EHCP)

An Opportunity to:

  • Learn about the EHCP process and how you can play a full part in it
  • Find out how Independent Support can help you
  • Meet other Parent Carers going through the transfer process
  • Gain tips, resources and ideas to help your family

Colchester – Tues 12 Sept – 7.30pm-9.00pm – Kingsland Church

Harlow – Weds 20 Sept – 10.30am-12noon – Harlow Education Center

Chelmsford – Tue 26 Sept  – 10.30am-12noon – Moulsham Mill

Rayleigh – Weds 4 Oct – 10.30am-12noon – Rayleigh Mega Center

Pitsea – Tues 24 Oct – 7.30pm-9.00pm – Pitsea Leisure Center

Epping – Weds 1 Nov – 10.30am-12noon – Epping Hall

Clacton – Tues 14 Nov – 10.30am-12noon – CVS Tendring

Chelmsford – Weds 15 Nov – 10.30am-12noon – Moulsham Mill

Harlow – Weds 22 Nov – 10.30am-12noon – Harlow Education Center

Colchester – Tues 28 Nov – 10.30am-12noon – Kingsland Church

Places can be reserved online for any one of the sessions:

If you are unable to use the above link to book on line please


Text: 07506 566856

Call: 01245 608300

(please tell us your name & venue you require)

Independent Support Essex (iSEssex) is a service led by InterAct, Charity Reg No. 1048631. Independent Support is funded by The Department for Education through the Council for Disabled Children.

Independent Support For Parents During EHC Plan Assessments / Transfers

Please be aware that a new partnership between local voluntary organisations Families InFocus (Essex), InterAct, ecdp and parent/carer forum FACE exists to provide Independent Supporters to work with parents of children (up to 25) with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and directly with young people, as they go through the new assessment process for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan).

The role of Independent Supporters is to:

  • Focus on the main task of helping to transfer a statement into an EHCP
  • Help the parent/carer or young person understand the local offer
  • Act as a named contact for the parent/carer or young person throughout the assessment and planning process
  • Liaise across a range of agencies with the parent/carer or young person to help gather the information required for an EHCP
  • Provide information to parents/carers and young people on personal budgets
  • Support the parent/carer or young person in contributing to an EHCP that is then ready to be signed off by a designated professional, agreed as part of a local referral protocol process
  • Signpost parents/carers and young people, when the issue is outside the remit of an Independent Supporter, to organisations providing impartial information advice and support (IAS) services, e.g. Families InFocus (Essex) and Essex Parent Partnership Services.

Please get in touch with us if you require information and support.

Apex Parent Support Group, Chelmsford

For families whose children have social, communication difficulties, which may involve the autistic spectrum.

To be held at The Apex, Thriftwood School, Slades Lane, Chelmsford CM2 8RW (10.00 am to 12.00 noon).

Thursday 16th March, 20th April, 11th May, 8th June, 13th July, 14th September, 12th October, 9th November and 14th December 2017.

For more information, please contact Claire Smith