About us

The Southampton Mencap Independent Support Service

What does an Independent Supporter do?
An Independent Supporter provides time limited impartial information and support to families and young people with special educational needs who are going through the process of developing an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.
Who is an Independent Supporter?

An Independent Supporter is someone who has been appointed, supported and supervised by a local service provider or the Information, Advice and Support Service. They would have completed accredited training provided by the Council for Disabled Children before offering impartial information and support to families and young people.

When can you use an Independent Supporter?

An Independent Supporter can support you at any stage of the EHC planning process and for advice around the annual review.

What can an Independent Supporter do to help?
  • Explain the EHC Assessment and how an EHC plan is developed
  • Explain who does what and when
  • Help you to recognise the difference between goals, aspirations and outcomes
  • Help you to navigate the Local Offer found on the local authority website
  • Ensure you have all the information you need to make a decision e.g. how to request a personal budget, how to choose a school or setting
  • Provide impartial information and support for you to be confident to express your views
  • Be a point of contact throughout the EHC Assessment, with your Key Worker if you wish


They are free, impartial and confidential services.

Local authorities must arrange for children with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, and their parents, and young people with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, to be provided with information and advice about matters relating to their SEN or disabilities, including matters relating to health and social care.
SEND Code of Practice 2014, DfE

How does an Independent Supporter help?
  • They make sure you have all the information you need for the EHC Assessment.
  • Help to produce your Family Journey and One Page Profile.
  • Help you prepare for and support you at meetings during the planning process.
  • Translate any jargon.
  • Review the proposed/draft EHC plan with you.
  • Signpost to further advice and support such as the local Information, Advice and Support Service .

Our Service will:
  • Respond promptly to your questions either through the telephone helpline, in face-to-face meetings or via email.
  • Support you in any contact you have with the school, Local Authority Officers or other professionals involved.
  • Accompany you to any meetings or visits where appropriate.
  • Ensure you have access as early as possible to relevant advice and information.
  • Ensure that any information given to you is clear, comprehensive and factual.
  • Discuss with you ways of offering a variety of support options, which take into account the individual needs and wishes of you and your child/parent.


What do people say about our service?

“Always available when needed, couldn’t have gone through the EHC plan application without the help of this service”

“I received a welcoming voice who guided me through what’s happening.”

“It was helpful to feel that I wasn’t trying to do this on my own.”

Contact us:

023 8055 7607 or 02380 582 110



187a Portswood Road, Southampton, SO17 2NF