Family Support

Our unique home visiting Family Support Service provides the practical support to enable Families and individuals with learning disability to use the information we provide from our drop-in centre, our help-line and on our website. This includes information and support around diagnosis, benefits, education, health & social care, housing, hate crime, transition, legal and leisure and much more. 

We have six Family Advisers who are experienced and qualified professionals in learning disabilities (LD) and Autism (ASD).  They are professionally led, supervised and supported to ensure that they provide the best service and have a wealth of information and knowledge about learning disability.  Their knowledge of the law and guidance governing services for disabled children and adults and their experience across RBC's Children's and Adult Services enables them to empower families, ensuring that they can go on to make informed choices with the support we provide.

Our Family Advisers can also give practical support to attend appointments, appeals, reviews, court hearings, Core Groups, Child Protection Conferences and any other meetings, help fill out forms, be a listening ear and give information about a variety of issues. 

You can contact the Family Support Team via our Centre at Alexandra Road or on 0118 966 2518 (our helpline), from 9.30am to 1.30pm, Monday to Friday throughout the the year for a home visit or an appointment at the Centre or just for a phone conversation.   

Our team includes a multilingual Family Adviser who speaks Urdu and Hindi, meaning we can offer advice and support to BME families where English is not their first language.

To see guides relating to charging for a contribution to your care and support needs click these links:

'How much will I pay for my care and support" click here

'Disability related Expenses' click here 

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How our Family Support Service makes a difference

Our Family Support service can be a lifeline to people who are isolated or unable to access help from other sources.

Audrey, (not her real name), has a learning disability. She also has depression and anxiety and as she lives on her own without support from her family she was starting to find some aspects of life difficult such as reading and understanding official letters and going to appointments.

She was told about the Reading Mencap Family Support service and one of our advisers visited her at home to talk over her situation.

Audrey now receives fortnightly support from her family adviser, which has made the world of difference to her.

Audrey and her adviser use the time to read and write letters, make appointments around her physical and mental health, attend her GP surgery and to give her support with financial or home maintenance issues.

Reading Mencap’s support has also enabled her to make a successful challenge to a decision to stop her Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Audrey said: “My Family Adviser knows my situation well and has really helped me to carry on managing in life. She is there to talk to and to help me when I get worried about things. I really trust her with everything as she is so helpful. I wouldn’t have been able to get my ESA back had my family adviser not helped with the letters, making the telephone calls and the appointments.

“Everyone at Reading Mencap is really nice and friendly and it is a place I feel safe to go to. My family adviser has really helped me so much. I know I can call her in between our meetings if I need to. She has really helped me with so much. I don’t get so anxious now.”

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'I'd feel lost if I couldn't come to Reading Mencap'

Christine says she would feel lost without the support of Reading Mencap.

She has a learning disability which affects her ability to understand complex issues and to interact with other people. She also experiences high levels of anxiety and needs to keep her mind occupied to keep her mind off her worries.

Christine (not her real name) is very capable but she cannot work so she is also at risk of social isolation and financial hardship. She lives by herself and cooks and cleans for herself but she doesn’t like to sit at home on her own all day.

She benefits from monthly face-to-face support from a family adviser and telephone support once a week. She uses this support for help with forms and benefits, challenging social care decisions, getting support at meetings and for developing strategies to cope with anxiety. This is hugely important as anxiety can be a real barrier to accessing services.

Christine enjoys being in the fresh air and her family adviser also helps her access and enjoy attending clubs, events and activities – both those run by Reading Mencap and in the community.

When she attends clubs, Christine can sometimes misread situations and the intentions of other people, which can lead her into conflict. She can also sometimes become distressed by the noise and ‘busyness’ of the clubs. One-to-one support from her family adviser helps her to manage her anxiety and she has learnt to recognise the triggers and use strategies to help her overcome her concerns.

Christine said: “I’d feel lost if I couldn’t come to Reading Mencap. I think it’s very good. It has helped me have experience of cooking and volunteering to help other people.

“I like the friendly people. They are always polite and helpful.”