History of South Yorkshire CANN

Leeds Children’s Additional Needs Network (Leeds CANN) started as an ambition to improve communication between the various charities operating in the Leeds area in the field of supporting children with additional needs and their families. The first meeting in Autumn 2016 was between the four groups / individuals involved, who agreed on a simple plan to reach out to their various contacts, establish the level of interest and meet to discuss how to take the idea forward. What emerged in the next few months was that there was interest from a number of organisations in meeting and exchanging ideas and news, that a Facebook page and a website would be essential tools, and that we should make progress, initially just within the Leeds area to test the concept.

Over the next couple of years, we have established a Facebook page for the member organisations, which have grown to number around 40 and to include statutory bodies working in the city, a Facebook page for families, and a website which acts as an information resource by offering a single portal, with a paragraph about each member organisation, summarising their offering and including contact details and a ‘click through’ to their own website. Meetings are held every 3/4 months, with the Chair, who is elected from the members, issuing a request for agenda items being issued two weeks before the next meeting, an agenda being issued one week before, and the minutes being issued within two weeks of the meeting. Attendance has varied but has generally been around half of the membership turning up to any meeting, all of which have been generously hosted by members. All development work during that period has been funded by contributions from SNAPS Yorkshire CIO (Special Needs and Parent Support) and Irwin Mitchell Leeds. No other funding has been sought or required.

The membership is a combination of national charities (operating across the UK), regional charities (operating across Yorkshire and beyond) and local charities (operating solely in Leeds), as well as statutory groups, such as Leeds City Council teams and management responsible for children with additional needs and their families across the city, and NHS teams with interests in this area. Most organisations have more than one representative, to help ensure cover, and in some case these are Trustees, rather than employees of the organisations concerned.

At a meeting in 2018, further to the successful expansion of the Network within Leeds, it was agreed that a programme to expand the reach of the Network to include all five authorities comprising West Yorkshire, would be implemented. To this end, a request was issued to all members to establish the operational cover of each organisation, i.e. whether they had a presence in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield as well as Leeds. The distribution has now been confirmed, and the next step is to identify the local organisations from the relevant local contacts in each authority, which are smaller and less visible outside of their own specific area. We have negotiated some funding to pay for developments to the website over the next three years, with the ‘infilling’ of the smaller organisations taking place during the coming months as an ongoing process, enabling the full West Yorkshire CANN to be properly launched in 2019.

As a separate initiative, with the support of Irwin Mitchell, South Yorkshire CANN was launched in late 2017 and North East CANN in 2022.

Purpose of South Yorkshire CANN

South Yorkshire Children’s Additional Needs Network (SYCANN) links children’s charities from the voluntary sector, with education, health and Local Authority services, all of which work with parents and carers of children with additional needs and disabilities across South Yorkshire. The primary aim is to connect organisations with each other to improve communication and the exchange of information and ideas between the various support services.

South Yorkshire CANN’s network helps member organisations to make their services more visible to families caring for children and young people with additional needs through a dedicated website and Facebook pages for both the member organisations and for parents and carers.

The Network is committed to improving access to information and advice for parent carers and will facilitate communication between member organisations to join up the planning and provision of services for children with additional needs.

SYCANN shares best practice, offers opportunities for collaborative working and provides a marketplace to benefit service users and providers alike through the website, social media and regular networking opportunities.

We aim to help families to navigate through the systems and processes they encounter as a trusted guide to ensure good provision and positive outcomes for all children and young people with additional needs living in South Yorkshire.

What South Yorkshire CANN Will Do

The South Yorkshire Children’s Additional Needs Network will:

  1. Create a closed Facebook page solely for access by Member Organisations, which will create a platform for sharing of information, ideas and opportunities for joint working
  2. Create a South Yorkshire CANN website which will act as a single entry point to access a wide range of information and ideas relevant to families of children with additional needs, and through that entry, access the websites of all Member Organisations
  3. Share ideas showing best practice between Member Organisations
  4. Share opportunities for single and joint events and activities, including information and training sessions
  5. Share information to advertise and cross promote services to respective organisations and the families they support;
  6. Work with Health, Social Care & Education professionals to improve their understanding of the needs of families with children with additional need. Where appropriate, provide guidance and information to pass on to their clients/patients;
  7. Review local needs regularly in line with national legislation and local initiatives and policy;