MALVERN-based charity Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral Skills (ARCOS) has launched a new service to support families with special needs during the pandemic.

The ARCOS Family Support and Information Line (AFSIL) will be available for families and others involved with helping children and young adults who have special or additional needs.

The advice line is being set up in response to issues raised by a survey carried out by ARCOS, summarised in a report called Scarcely Special, based on its experiences with parents and children during the first lockdown last year.

The charity talked to the families of children with special needs to identify future support the charity can provide after the lockdown.

The report quotes family members saying of the lockdown: "It feels like a never-ending battle when you have children with special needs" and "The whole situation was awful - I would not relive it".

ARCOS clinical director Kay Coombes said: "The negative impact on everyday life and the implications for families with one or more children who have special educational needs became very evident during the first lockdown.

"Failures in the current SEND [special educational needs or disability] system and support services were also exposed during conversations with parents.

"If it is the case that the findings of this project are representative of lockdown experience nationwide, then the impact and long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic should be considered a major concern."

ARCOS, which has been based in Great Malvern since the early 1990s, provides and promotes specialist therapies, training and support for people with communication or swallowing difficulties, caused by a variety of conditions.

The free service will be available on Mondays and Tuesdays between 9.30am and 12.30pm, starting on Monday, March 8. The email address is

For more information about ARCOS, contact 01684 576795 or