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The Heathway Centre

COVID-19 update

From 7 September 2020, The Heathway Centre will no longer be operating or delivering services from 512a Heathway, Dagenham RM10 7SJ. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed extreme pressure on services across the council resulting in measures having to be put in place to protect both service users and staff and to be compliant with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines as some services such as schools are now resuming.

Due to these measures, many services have had to adapt and or re think their way of working to ensure the safety of everyone is paramount.  This has included Trinity special school, who work with our some of our most vulnerable children and young people. To be COVID-19 compliant, they require extended space to ensure social distancing can take place. Heathway Centre offers the additional space required as the centre is annexed to Trinity school and it would be more practical for the school and the pupils.


The Heathway Centre has now been relocated to Becontree Children's Centre, Stevens Road, Dagenham RM8 2QR, and will share the premises with both the Children Centre and the nursery provider who operate from the centre.

We are not currently in a position to open the building to the public for drop in services. All face to face contact with parents / carers, children and young people will be limited and will be on an appointment only basis. Where possible we will continue to use virtual methods of contacts such as video call or email / text messages.

Presently, we are unable to offer universal services such as after school clubs and holiday clubs, as the building requires some adaption to make it more accessible for our service users. We will use both Becontree Children's Centre and try to use other children’s centres across the borough to deliver satellite services if possible. This includes any respite provision that was previously held at the Heathway Centre. We are working hard to find alternative and suitable premises so respite sessions can resume.

Our Targeted Early Help offer will continue to be delivered as we have done over the COVID-19 period and our Early Interventions workers will continue to support families who have been identified as needing additional support.

Our phone line remains the same (for now), however, please ensure you leave your phone number on any voicemail messages as we do not have caller ID to return any missed calls. You can also email any enquiries to TheHeathwayCentre@lbbd.gov.uk or directly to all Heathway staff. 

We are feeling optimistic and excited about the move and have already been welcomed by all children centre staff. We hope to forge effective partnership working with all services who use the building and will support existing children centre services to look at ways their services can be more inclusive to meet the needs of all of our parent / carers, children and young people.

We have currently suspended all groups and activities delivered by the Heathway Centre, this includes all training delivered by partner agencies, meetings, contact sessions, Trident work placements and satellite services  such as the Citizens Advice Bureau sessions.

We have been notified that the following respite providers operating from the Heathway Centre are also implementing social distancing procedures:

  • Monday: Sycamore Trust Youth Group - Cancelled until further notice. They can be contacted on 0208 517 9317 for further details.
  • Saturday: Funky Willows - Currently waiting to be confirmed whether sessions will delivered. They can be contacted on 07415 070 436 for further details
  • Sunday: Purple Penguin Club - Cancelled until further notice. They can be contacted on 07881 949 799 for further details.

Despite the closure of our centre, we will be operating remotely during our normal working hours of Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. All Heathway staff will continue to be available to provide advice, information or support families and professionals as per usual.

We can be contacted on our office number: 0208 227 5500 or calls can be made directly to staff extension numbers which have been redirected to their work mobiles. We are also available via email and skype.

The Heathway Centre is an inclusive resource centre for families with children and young people aged 0 to 17 years (up to their 18th birthday) with additional needs or disabilities. We provide information and advice on a wide range of issues affecting families with children and young people with additional needs or disabilities. We also support families access to specialist training aimed at increasing confidence and awareness for those caring for a child with an additional need.

We’re in a purpose built building with a track and hoist system fitted throughout, wet room, fully equipped kitchen with adjustable height cooker and washing facilities. We have a secure outside play area with a wheelchair accessible swing and mobility adapted bikes.

We provide a variety of adapted resources including a multi sensory room, adjustable cooker, iPads, interactive floor, interactive screen and adapted IT equipment. We also have available a public use computer suite with free internet access.

We can signpost and refer you to specialist local organisations including:

Useful contact numbers for parents (PDF, 113.40 KB)

Targeted support

Targeted support is part of our early help offer. It is aimed at families who need additional help from a professional for a time limited period. This includes help around behaviour management, implementing routines, completing and reviewing care packages, transition into adult services and access to specific services that require professional referral and intervention.

We receive referrals through a variety of sources including multi agency panels (MAPs), Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), schools, external agencies and through cases stepped down from social care.

Free courses

Free courses are available for parents/carers looking after children with additional needs, run by Carers of Barking and Dagenham.

Activities and programmes

Due to the current Coronavirus outbreak, we regret that all our scheduled groups and activities have been cancelled until further notice. Please check here for further updates and information.

We offer a wide range of activities aimed at supporting parent/carers to:

  • increase their confidence
  • make new friends
  • share experiences
  • increase awareness of resources available

We provide fun activities for children and young people to support them develop their learning and communication skills and help them become more independent.

Our programmes are offered in consultation with parents/carers, children and young people. We encourage siblings to attend.

Holiday programmes

Our holiday programmes are very popular, offering families an opportunity to spend quality time together. We plan trips with the needs of all our children in mind and continue to offer activities during half terms and the summer holidays.

Our activities include:

  • family swimming
  • fencing
  • martial arts fitness
  • dance and drama
  • family fun
  • Down Syndrome support groups
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • free public internet access

Inclusive football taster sessions

For players with a disability.

Inclusive football taster sessions flyer (PDF, 503.30 KB)

SWAP - Speak With A Picture

SWAP is an exciting new project, starting in September 2018, aimed at pre-school children aged 2 to 4 who have social and communication difficulties. The aim of the programme is for children and their families to develop communication skills that can be widely used every day. SWAP is funded by BBC Children In Need but additional costs for materials must be funded by parents or carers. 

The programme is aimed at predominantly non-verbal children or children with limited communication skills, using an alternative communication system designed to provide individuals with the ability to share their own wants and needs, called PECS - picture exchange communication system. It uses pictures and symbols in a 6 stage approach to teaching. Children are encouraged to choose an image and exchange the symbol for a desired outcome, enabling them to have their needs met in any social situation.

The programme will be based at the Sycamore Trust in Dagenham. to join, families must commit to attend 12 weekly sessions with a view to improving communication skills and building parental confidence. The sessions will last approximately an hour each week and each child will be supported by two Sycamore Trust staff along with their parents.

How to apply

Families can be referred, using our referral form, by:

  • your child's GP
  • health visitor
  • CAMHs
  • nursery or preschool
  • paediatrician
  • social worker
  • children and adults disability team
  • portage worker
  • support worker
  • any other health professional involved with your child
  • self-referral

If you are interested in this exciting new programme for your child, or if you’re a professional with a family that you feel would benefit from the programme, contact the SWAP Team at SWAP@sycamoretrust.org.uk, telephone 020 8517 9317 for further information, or complete and return our referral form.

SWAP referral form

After you apply

We aim to place as many children who need our support as possible. If successful, we'll contact you to confirm your child's place on our waiting list.

Short breaks and respite

Short breaks

Short breaks offer a chance for children and young people who are disabled to access activities enabling them to have fun, spend time away from their carers, develop skills and independence and make new friends.

Short breaks can be offered to children and young people who can’t usually access mainstream services without support, to access leisure activities with their families and or friends. Short breaks can also be used to give parents and carers a break from their caring responsibilities.

Read our short breaks guidance for more details.

Short breaks guidance (PDF, 765.76 KB)


If you feel your child needs to attend a provision to support their development and also need a break from your caring responsibilities, you can apply for a short break, often referred to as respite.

Respite can be offered through a request being made for your child to attend a provision of your choice or a request for a carer to provide care for your child whilst you attend to day to day activities which you are unable to complete because of your caring responsibilities.

If you have an allocated social worker, early intervention worker or portage worker, they’ll need to complete an assessment to determine the impact this will have on your child and your family.

If you don’t have an allocated worker as above and don’t have an open CAF (Common Access Framework) in place, you can complete the short breaks self referral form. You can ask any early intervention professional at our children centres to check whether you have completed the form correctly.

Short breaks self-referral form 2018 (DOC, 89.50 KB)

Short Breaks 4 Me Grant

The ShortBreak4Me Grant for 2020/2021 is currently suspended.

Given the current climate, we do not want to advertise the vouchers and risk companies going into liquidation, or having to go into a second lockdown resulting in vouchers being worthless. There’s also no guarantee that the voucher companies will be able to fulfil many of the activities offered. With so much uncertainty the council has a difficult decision to make.

We will be sending out details of a questionnaires to parent/carers to complete so we can get some feedback on what they think might be available for them to access during this pandemic. This may inform us further on decisions around options in the future.

Families with children under 18 years of age, living in LBBD may be eligible to apply for the Short Breaks 4 Me Grant. The grant is offered as a virtual £200 allowance (subject to change) which is paid into your Short Breaks 4 Me online account. All applications must be completed online. You will need an email address to complete your application.

Apply online

Previous applicants

If you have previously applied for a SB4ME grant through the virtual e-market place between April 2017 and March 2020 and were successful, you will receive an email confirming your unique reference number to reapply for the next financial year April 2020 to March 2021. This number will allow your online application to be pre-approved. You must apply online as a previous applicant and not a new applicant.

If you do not receive your unique reference number by the end of May 2020 call us on 020 8227 5500.

Please note that we are reviewing applicants who continue to apply for the grant but do not spend it. This impacts on the numbers of people who can apply for the grant as it takes the money away from another family who may want to apply. Please be advised that any grant allowance that is not spent by the end of the financial year, will be withdrawn from your virtual account. We will consider rejecting applicants who continue to apply for the grant and fail to spend the allowance.

New applicants

If you are new applicant and you have never applied for a PSBG, you will need to apply online as a new applicant and complete a professional declaration form with details of your child’s disability. Applications that are received with no evidence will not be processed.

Help completing the form

Some parent/carers may need additional support to complete their application online. If you need help, contact us and we’ll arrange for somebody to assist you.

Contact us

020 8227 5500


Travel assistance

Parents do not need to apply annually for travel assistance. 

You will only need to complete an application form if:

  • your child does not receive travel support at the moment and they would like to make a new application
  • your child is at a transition phase of their education
  • your address changes
  • your child’s school placement changes
  • your child’s needs significantly change whereby the current support is no longer suitable
  • your circumstances change whereby they can no longer support their child to get to school

Parent/carers must complete our essential information forms to ensure up-to-date contact details are in place. These will be distributed via the buses.

More information on travel assistance

Please note that The Heathway Centre do not make decisions on travel assistance and cannot support with any appeals process.

Any queries on applications or appeals should be emailed to transport.request@lbbd.gov.uk

Carers’ cards and Max cards

Carers’ cards

Our carers' cards are aimed at helping parents and carers get recognition for caring for a child with a disability or additional need, valid until their 25th birthday. The card is transferable so can be used by any person caring for the child or young person to show that they are the carer. The card can be used as evidence when accessing some leisure activities, as many local and national attractions do offer discounts for a carer. You should always ask before booking an activity.

To apply for a new or replacement carers' card, complete our application form and return it electronically to TheHeathwayCentre@lbbd.gov.uk. You’ll need to attach a recent passport sized photo of your child with their full name and date of birth written on the back of the photograph. We are happy to receive a photograph of the completed form if you are unable to fill this out electronically. Please do not drop it off at the centre as the centre is currently closed to the public due to COVID.

A member of staff will contact you when it is ready for collection.

Carers card application form (PDF, 122KB)

Carers card application form (DOCX, 68KB)

Max cards, for ages up to 25

The Max card is a discount card for families of children with additional needs. It is available for children and young people up to 25 years.

The scheme is designed to help these families save money on great days out at castles, zoos, bowling alleys and more. Just show your Max card on entry to a venue for free or discounted admission to a variety of attractions and or events. 

The Heathway Centre offers the Max card for families who wish to register on the children with additional needs list. The card is offered at the cost price of £2.50.

Due to COVID social distancing measures, you are currently unable drop your completed applications to our new centre where payment would usually be taken. Please complete the form and email to: TheHeathwayCentre@lbbd.gov.uk and a staff member will contact you to arrange for your payment and Max card to be given to you. We are happy to accept photographs if you cannot scan and return.

MAX card application form (PDF, 402KB)

MAX card application form (DOCX, 1.8MB)

Radar keys

Do you have a child or young person with a learning difficulty or disability? Do they find it hard to wait to use a public toilet?

If yes, you can purchase a radar key from the Heathway Centre for £1.50. The radar key will allow you to gain access to toilets for disabled people.

Opening hours

Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm.

Fridays 9am to 5pm for telephone enquiries. Unless you have a booked appointment or meeting, you will not be seen.

We offer services Monday to Sunday.

GDPR - Email mailing list

We sent an email to all our parent/carers that were on our email contact list on the 22 June 2018, requesting an opt in or opt out option for receiving email updates from The Heathway Centre. We gave everyone a one month timescale to respond and confirmed that if we didn’t hear from you, we would remove your details from our list.

If you did not respond, we have removed you from our email list and you will no longer receive any updates.

If you would like to continue to receive updates, please email TheHeathwayCentre@lbbd.gov.uk requesting to be placed on our Parent/Carer email contact list.

Face covering exemption cards

Face covering exemption cards are for children, young people and adults who cannot wear a mask due to their disability or medical needs. If you feel that you or child may need an exemption card, you can print these off here:

Face covering exemption cards (PDF, 607KB)


Contact us

The Heathway Centre, Becontree Childrens Centre, Stevens Road, RM8 2QR

020 8227 5500