Four new community drop-in hubs opened for neurodiverse children and young people

Four new community neurodiversity drop-in hubs have opened across Derbyshire to support children, young people, their families and their carers.

Local charities and voluntary organisations are providing advice, support and guidance to children and young people – and to their families and carers – as part of a plan to improve services.

Neurodivergence includes conditions such as autism spectrum, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, foetal alcohol syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and social anxiety.

The aim of the service in the new “neuro hubs” is to help provide early support – without the need for an assessment or diagnosis. This will help to prevent any impact from the condition from getting worse and will support children, young people aged up to 25, their families and carers to manage their condition successfully.

The four new hubs are the result of a new partnership between NHS Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board, Derbyshire Autism Services, Citizens Advice Mid Mercia and a range of other charities who provide face to face contact and support. Parents and carers also helped to shape the service to meet their needs.

The NHS has invested £200,000 in this financial year 2023/24 to enable the hubs to set up and run for the first year, with a commitment to continue funding during 2024-2026.

Hubs are:

  • providing a safe and supportive environment where users can ask questions and be heard
  • providing compassionate and supportive staff who act as guides
  • identifying and bringing together a range of organisations to support users
  • offering information and support services on topics such as benefits, housing, employment, and clinical services
  • available for children and young people whether or not they have had a diagnosis

Derbyshire Autism Services is acting as lead delivery partner for hubs in Derby (operated by St James Centre), Buxton (operated by Zink), and Chesterfield (operated by Monkey Park) and Ripley (operated by Derbyshire Autism Services). The Ripley and Chesterfield sites operate as two branches of one hub to cover north and mid Derbyshire.

Chris Pienaar, chief executive of Derbyshire Autism Services, said: “These hubs are the outcome of two years of joint working to identify a better way of supporting neurodivergent children and young people, and their parents and carers.

“This project saw us working together with children and young people, their families and carers, with the NHS, with local councils and with a wide range of voluntary and community groups to create the solutions that has now led to these hubs.

“We wanted to provide support for the key areas that parents and carers told us about – being out and about, eating, sleeping, communicating and interacting, creating a positive environment, toileting, behaviour and sensory processing.

“As parent and carers wanted, the hubs are local, they provide a listening ear and range of non-clinical services close to home that are relevant to needs with or without diagnosis.

“They are available without long waits and on a ‘return whenever you like’ basis. We aim to be like trusted friend.”

Sarah Brown, chief operating officer, Citizens Advice Mid Mercia, which is providing the hub in South Derbyshire, said: “We have found that people have really valued the opportunity to drop in and have a chat.

“Already we have had around 50 parents, carers, children and young people come along and they have been supported by 18 different professionals.

“We hope that will start to improve the quality of life for children and young people in our communities.”

Nicola Smith, head of children’s commissioning at Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board, said: “These four hubs are an important part of our work across health and social care to improve the experience and health outcomes of children and young people who are neurodivergent.

“We found that families and carers were often asking for a clinical assessment to support them and then having to waiting long periods for that to happen.

“However, we also found that they could have received the support they needed from local community organisations much quicker and that this would have met their needs better.

“These hubs should help to improve quality of life both for children and young people, and for their families, carers, schools and their wider community.”

Michael, from Buxton, was one of the parents who contributed views that have helped inform the new service. He is autistic himself and provides training to parents of autistic children through Derbyshire Autism Services and Children First in Derby.

He said: “Life can be very tough and lonely as the parent of an autistic child. When parents get together they can share experiences and support each other, knowing that they have faced similar challenges.

“Parents are looking for the support they need to help their children to understand who they are, and from that to become confident and happy.

“That can produce massively better outcomes for children, resulting in a better life at home, at school and for the future.

“I also hope these hubs will ease the burden on NHS services because children and their parents get earlier support, which means problems don’t escalate to the point of needing the NHS.

“And I hope that parents will be directed straight to the service they need, rather than having to be referred from one service to another.”

The hubs can be contacted and visited in:


Monday to Friday 3:30pm to 6:30pm, Saturday 10am to 1pm

Unit 3a Unicorn Business Park, Wellington Street, Ripley, DE5 3EH

07510 928349



Booked appointments on Tuesdays 12:30pm to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday 10am to 4pm

Drop ins Wednesday 10am to 3pm, Friday 10am to 1pm

Monkey Park Community Hub, 128a Chester Street, Chesterfield S40 1DN

07874 941890



Monday to Thursday 10am to 1:30pm, Friday 10am to 1pm

St James’ Centre, Malcolm Street, Derby, DE23 8LU

07561 856320



Tuesday 12pm to 7pm, Wednesday to Friday 10am to 4pm

Zink HQ, Clough Street, Buxton, SK17 6LJ

07498 892525



Citizens Advice Mid Mercia, 114 Church St, Church Gresley, Swadlincote, DE11 9NR

01332 228 790

Please call for drop in date times