#SENDABetterMessage – Campaign Overview

Join us in demanding a fairer system of support for every disabled child and family. Sign up to the campaign.

The government has outlined a far-reaching reform programme to change how disabled children’s health and care works. This is an important opportunity to expose how confrontational and bureaucratic the current system is. But we also can’t let the government make it harder to access support. 


What is the #SENDABetterMessage campaign? 

#SENDABetterMessage calls on the government to use its SEND reform programme to create a more just, fairer system of support for disabled children and families – one that is easier to navigate and gets them the services they’re entitled without having to fight for them.   

Currently, too many disabled children and families have to battle through a confrontational and bureaucratic system to get the services they’re entitled to in order to live a good quality of life – with different services providers not working well together and unclear accountability. This campaign aims to challenge this broken system.  

The campaign was launched shortly after the government published its SEND Green Paper in March 2022 and was designed with parent carers and supporter organisations from the DCP. 

Download our full briefing on the campaign and the Green Paper.


How can I get involved? 

This is a fast-moving campaign, with ways to get involved changing quickly. Here are the current main campaign actions: 


What campaigning has happened so far?

When the government’s SEND Green Paper consultation was live between March 2022 and July 2022, thousands of parents, young people, professionals and others took action for the rights of disabled children: 

  •  Over 1,300 people emailed their MP and demanded a fairer system for every disabled child. As a result, over 30 parliamentarians and their staff attended our virtual event on 17 June to hear from disabled children and families. 
  • An astonishing 1,8000 people answered our ‘6 simple questions on SEND’ directly feeding their views on SEND reform proposals into the government. 
  • Over 1,000 people took our urgent action emailing Steve Barclay and James Cleverly MP directly, demanding hugely worrying proposals in the SEND Green Paper are dropped. 

 We can’t thank everyone that took action enough. You have helped make our campaign a success and hugely raised the voices of families with disabled children. 


What is the SEND Review? What is a green paper?

The SEND Review is the name given to the government’s plans to reform disabled children’s services. It first launched in 2019, and eventually launched a green paper on 29 March 2022, which ran until 22 July 2022. 

A green paper is a large-scale government consultation, giving wide sections of society the opportunity to feed into what the government plans to do. Members of the public, businesses, charities, councils and more can all get involved.  

The SEND Green Paper contained the recommendations to improve services from the SEND review, alongside a series of questions the government asked about these recommendations and how better to improve services for disabled children.   


What is the DCP’s view on the reforms in the government’s SEND Green Paper? 

We recognise and agree with a lot of the description of the problems in disabled children’s services in the green paper. However, we are very concerned that some of the proposals will restrict families with disabled children from getting services and create extra barriers in an already burdensome system.   

In particular, we are concerned by the proposals to:  

  • Only let families pick a school from a pre-defined list – this could limit choice and prevent a young person from accessing the school that is best for them.  
  • Decide the levels of support disabled children get from a national banding system which may restrict access to support – it should be based on individual need, as was laid out in the Children and Families Act 2014.  
  • Make mediation mandatory before allowing families to go to Tribunal – this adds an extra step and could make it harder for families to access tribunals.  

Finally, the green paper does not answer the biggest issue for many families – how are councils, schools, the health service and others going to be held to account if they don’t meet their legal duties? 

Download our full briefing on the campaign and the Green Paper.

At DCP our focus is on health and care. For detailed points on education policy, we would recommend reading the briefing from the Special Education Consortium (SEC).


Our latest research 

Our latest report Left Behind: 6 months on, based on surveying hundreds of parent carers of disabled children, has revealed that the pandemic has severely exacerbated challenges that families with disabled children already faced accessing support. Stark statistics from the report include: 

  • A third of disabled children are experiencing more pain as their support is delayed or reduced. 
  • 2 in 3 disabled children have seen their emotional or mental health deteriorate due to not getting the right support.   
  • 43% of families with disabled children have waited over a year to get respite care they deserve.  
  • 3 in 5 parent carers have seen their relationships with friends and family suffer due to lack of support.  
  • Half of siblings of disabled children are lonely because their family is not getting the right support.  
  • Nearly 70% of parent carers of disabled children have seen their physical health deteriorate because the right support wasn’t there. 

This is why reform is urgently needed. And it is why we can’t let the government further restrict families with disabled children from accessing support. 

Read the full report. 


 If you have any questions about the #SENDABetterMessage campaign, you can email us at disabledchildrens.partnership@mencap.org.uk