Young people

Young People

Resources to help

We have a range of free resources for you to download by clicking on the link.

I’m Thinking Ahead: How to be part of the world of work

One of our latest resources is a new section of the I’m Thinking Ahead guide: ‘How to be part of the world of work’.

How this guide can help:

  • Encourages thinking and talking about work during school and college years
  • See the benefits and possibilities of working
  • Ideas and tools to try things out, build local links with community organisations and businesses
  • Be better prepared for Education, Health and Care Plan meetings

The PDF contains fillable text boxes (tinted blue) that you can type into to save your ideas. You will need to download and save to create an offline copy. The coloured tint in the text boxes will not appear when you print a copy.
Download the guide here

On the Resources and Information/Essex page you can download a version of this guide written for Essex County Council with information about relevant local services and organisations.

A local version helps to give to give employment the focus that is needed give people with learning disabilities improved opportunites to be in work.
If you would like to enquire about a local version of this guide for your council, please email us for more information.


I'm Thinking Ahead

I’m Thinking Ahead

The original 3 sections of this easy read guide are:

  • How to plan
  • How to make choices
  • How to get the right housing and support

They help people have conversations with their family, friends and supporters. This helps people to gain confidence and ideas about planning for the future.

‘How to Plan’, ‘How to make choices’ and ‘How to be part of the world of work’ may be useful from around the age of 13.

Click here to download. The PDF contains fillable text boxes that can be used to record ideas that come from the conversations and can used to share thoughts with others, for future reference and to keep information updated.

On the Resources and Information page, you can find more information and also download the 3 sections individually.


Thinking ahead: a planning guide for families

Thinking Ahead: a planning guide for families

A guide to support families in talking about, and planning for, the future.

Click here to download. The PDF contains fillable text boxes (tinted blue) that you can type into to save your ideas. You will need to download and save to create an offline copy. The coloured tint in the text boxes will not appear when you print a copy. 

To see the nine sections in the guide click on the diagram below for a full-sized image.


Thinking Ahead Planning Guide


On the Resources and Information page you have the option to download each of the 9 sections individually.

A number of the sections are particularly useful for parents, and other family carers, of young people:

  • Making decisions
  • Making plans for the future in a person-centred way
  • Building friendships and support networks
  • Housing and support

    Click here for a leaflet about the Thinking Ahead guides: please share with others you know 


Workshops, training and development work


We run a number of workshops and training sessions using the Thinking Ahead and I’m Thinking Ahead guides.
Some of the options are:

  • workshops for family carers on using the Thinking Ahead and I’m Thinking Ahead guides to give families ideas on planning for adult life (this could be, for example, through a Parent Carer Forum, a school or college)
  • a workshop on a specific topic that families might be keen to know about, such as supporting choices and understanding decision-making post-16
  • training for 16-25 social work teams and/or Preparing for Adulthood teams to see how the guides can support them in their planning with young people and their families
  • training for education practitioners and career advisers on using I’m Thinking Ahead with young people, with  a focus on ‘How to be part of the world of work’
  • a webinar for people in strategic and commissioning roles to understand how they can use Thinking Ahead guides to achieve their priorities.

We aim to make our training, workshops and development work affordable to everyone. Please get in touch to discuss what you need and our charges.


    Having an aim

    What we are aiming to change


    • Future planning: young people and their families have structure, tools and ideas to help them be more confident and informed when thinking about how they would like their life to be when they move on from school, college and children’s services

    • Including everyone: young people with complex support needs and profound disabilities have a transition plan that includes friendships, community inclusion, aspirations for learning as well as their health and support needs

    • Friendships and community connections: greater recognition of the importance of friendships, connections, and opportunities in their local community for young people as a way to be confident, happy and healthy in adult life

    • Being part of the world of work: young people have many more opportunities to think and talk about the world of work as well to meet people with local jobs and businesses, leading to opportunities to try things out and find work that is right for them.

    Lewis and mum

    Michael Nelson’s experience of using the Thinking Ahead guides

    Michael and Doriel have 5 children, the youngest, Lewis, is 22 years old and has autism with moderate learning difficulties.

    “When Lewis was first diagnosed at approximately 4-5 years old, we were devastated, although we knew something was not right with his development. Even at that time, our first thoughts were would he be able to work, live a ‘normal’ life and what would happen to him when we had passed. We had no reference as to what the future would hold and, in retrospect, we realise that the journey is different for all families. Lewis has grown up to be a very likeable adult who attended a specialist autistic school, college and is now starting an internship at a local hospital. We have achieved all these placements by ‘fighting’ with the authorities to get the support he’s needed.

    All the time we were achieving these milestones in his education, bringing up our other children and holding down our careers, we still had the same nagging doubts about planning for his future but never seem to get started. One of the biggest steps involved discussion about getting older and bereavement. Our other children were always quick to state they would look after their younger brother, but we realised this was impractical once they were in relationships and had their own family. When talking with Lewis about bereavement and where he would like to live, he said “not to worry, I’ll die at the same time as you”. Not the practical solution we were looking for!

    Someone recommended we talk to our local Mencap about independent living options and it was there I was given a hard copy of ‘Thinking Ahead: a planning guide for families’. This has been our bible for the last few years. It is not necessary to follow it linearly, but we jump in and out of the relevant sections as and when.

    The Making Decisions section gave us the tools and legislation to assist in submitting applications for services. We also took out Lasting Powers of Attorney for Lewis and ourselves for both financial and health and welfare. This helped in opening bank accounts, online access, medical reports etc.

    We went ahead and produced our wills, put a Discretionary Trust in place and had discussions with all the family re the appointment of trustees and executors. After this, some of the children admitted they had been worrying about what would happen to Lewis after we passed and were relieved that we were formulating a plan. His aunty in Devon was involved in discussions and this has led to Lewis choosing to spend a week with her each year whilst my wife and I have a holiday.

    The emergency plan is in place and kicked into place when I had severe flu and my wife was rushed into hospital early one morning: our older sons went to hospital and our home and everything was okay after 24 hrs. We have also set up processes with neighbours to help in emergencies.

    We realise that independent living is a slow and long process and we commenced this some years ago and are now waiting for the occupational therapist assessment.

    All of these processes can be monitored in the final chapter of Thinking Ahead, which acts as a checklist where we can enter dates and names of professionals we have met.

    We have recently discovered the ‘I’m Thinking Ahead’ guide which is a very useful, person-centric and dynamic document. It makes it easy for our son to express his likes and aspirations and note any changes to his wishes as he grows older (this could be a very valuable tool for an annual EHCP). The section on How to get the right housing and support is helpful for Lewis to think about what he needs in relation to moving home. We are still thinking ahead re future work opportunities.

    We would thoroughly recommend these guides for families with SEN young adults as it has given the whole family peace of mind and put a lot of our own anxieties to rest.”

     Michael Nelson, September 2019


    The information on this page has been written by Christine Towers of Together Matters. Last reviewed on September 11th, 2023. We welcome your feedback on the content about Young People.