Hundreds set to join Leeds protest over the national special education needs crisis

The protest is being held outside Leeds Art Gallery on Thursday.
The protest is being held outside Leeds Art Gallery on Thursday.
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Leeds will be one of 27 locations around the country where protests will be held in a bid to highlight the national crisis in funding and delivery of services for children and young people with special needs.

Thousands of parents, disabled children and young people, and professionals who work with them will be taking to the streets on Thursday under the ‘SEND National Crisis’ banner, to demand that the Government takes action to change the system.

The founder of the campaign and the organiser of the Leeds protest says parents have had to re-mortgage their homes to cover the legal costs of trying to get access to services while one youngster was left suicidal because of how he was being treated in mainstream school.

Nadia Turki, of Huddersfield, said: "I started this out of frustration. I had my own nightmare with my son and getting access to the system. He is blind and and a registered braillist so he was only offered one school - nowhere near our home which has an impact on your life. There was very little advice, parents are being refused help and have to go to appeals and tribunals. You have to fund all the costs for these appeals and tribunals and one woman I know was £40,000 in debt.

"It is far beyond expectation. When I had had enough I started the campaign group on facebook and it went crazy. I expected it to plateu but it didn't and has grown and grown."

The parents and industry professionals taking part in the Leeds rally, outside the Art Gallery, along with those around the country are doing so in the first national action of its kind and the predicted numbers of people coming on Thursday has far outweighed expectation and is expected to be in the hundreds.

SEND National Crisis will deliver a petition with over 12,000 signatures to Downing Street at 12pm on Thursday, followed by a rally in nearby Parliament Square from 1-3pm. The regional protests will be taking place at the same time.

Protesters are hoping that they can create enough awareness to have a national summit and to eventually have more funding made available and more understanding from those in local authority making the decisions about individual cases.

Mrs Turki added: "There is a complete lack of understanding."