Children & Young People

Supporting children, young people and their families who need extra support

At some time in their lives, children, young people and their families may need extra support around health, education, and care.

We work closely with partners across the city to support parents, families and professionals to ensure everyone gets the right support they need.

Physical health

Keeping physically active every day is important to ensure a healthy development of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and children.

Babies (under 1 year)

Try to include at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day when they’re awake.

For more ideas, visit How to keep your baby or toddler active – NHS (

Toddlers (aged 1 to 2)

Toddlers should be physically active every day for at least three hours every day.

Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games, ball games, are the best ways for this age group to get moving.

Pre-schoolers (aged 3-4)

Pre-schoolers should spend at least three hours a day doing a variety of physical activities, including active and outdoor play.

All children under 5 who are overweight can improve their health by meeting the activity guidelines.

Find out what to do if your child is overweight: What can I do if my child is overweight? – NHS (

Children and young people (aged 5-18)

Children and young people aged 5-18 years should aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a day and need to take part in two types of physical activity every week:

  • Moderate exercise
  • Walking to school or walking the dog
  • Playground activities, jumping, running, catching
  • Physical education
  • Sports, like football or tennis
  • Swimming
  • Skipping
  • Dancing
  • Skateboarding or rollerblading
  • Cycling
  • Exercise to strengthen their muscles and bones
  • Gymnastics
  • Football
  • Jumping
  • Martial arts
  • Resistance exercises with exercise bands, weight machines, or handled weights
  • Sit-ups, press-ups, and other similar exercises

10 minute Shake Up games

Whatever the weather, there are many ways to stay active in your home. The NHS have teamed up with Disney to bring you 10-minute bursts of fun and games inspired by children’s favourite Marvel, Pixar and Disney characters. Visit 10 Minute Shake Up games – Healthier Families – NHS (

Getting active in Portsmouth

Make the most of getting outdoors by exploring local parks, nature spots and Southsea Seafront.

Mental health

Many children and young people experience emotional and behavioural problems from time to time in childhood. They may be stressed about exams, unhappy about friendship problems, confused about changes to their body or anxious about the future. They may also experience worries and sadness, but there are local services that can help.

Social and emotional mental health guidance

Portsmouth City Council has created new guidance to help children and young people access the right mental health support at the right time. The guidance can be found on their website and contains clear information and advice for children, as well as their parents/carers and professionals.

You can find out where, how, and when children can access support as well as detailed information on areas of concern, self-help advice and contact details for local and national support services. Quick guides are also available for easy reference.


Kooth is a free online counselling and wellbeing support service, which is available to all young people aged 11-25 in Portsmouth.

Young people can chat to Kooth’s helpful team via message or live chat. They can also join conversations on discussion boards, write their own daily journal and read helpful articles featuring personal experiences and tips.

There are no waiting lists or referrals, just visit and register anonymously.  The site is available 24/7 with counselling available 12pm – 10pm on weekdays and 6pm – 10pm on weekends.

Early help and prevention

The Early Help and Prevention service provides extra practical help to families early on, to stop problems getting worse. The team works with the whole family to understand what’s most important to them, what might help, and what can be done differently to support them. Help is available for families with children aged 0-19.

Read more about the Early Help and Prevention Service on the Portsmouth City Council website.

Family Hubs

There are five family hubs in the city; located in Buckland, Somerstown, Milton Park, Hilsea and Paulsgrove. It’s where the Early Help and Prevention team provide some of their support to families and where other organisations run community groups such as Home-Start Portsmouth’s ‘Stay and Play’ groups. Find out more about Family Hubs on the Portsmouth City Council website.

Family Information Service

The Family Information Service (FIS) shares information, advice and guidance for families with children from pre-birth to aged 19, and those working with families. The service offers guidance on a range of topics including childcare, school meals, keeping children safe and much more.

Family Assist

Family Assist is an online portal to help parents and families access information and support during pregnancy, birth and beyond, all written and approved by local health professionals. Expectant or new parents will be invited to register via their health visiting service, and anyone with a child under two can sign up by visiting the portal.

Users can also connect with local professionals to ask a question, and receive an email response within two working days.

Wessex Healthier Together

The Wessex Healthier Together website provides advice for parents, young people and pregnant women in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, from healthcare professionals. You’ll find clear information on common childhood illnesses, including advice on what ‘red flag’ signs to look out for, where to seek help if required, what you should do to keep your child comfortable, and how long your child’s symptoms are likely to last.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Local Offer

The Portsmouth SEND Local Offer details the information, support and services that Portsmouth City Council expects to be available in the local area for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND).

The website contains a host of information for parents and carers, professionals and young people including a document hub, useful links, local events and latest news.


Neurodiversity usually refers to the range of different neurological brain functions and processes, such as:

  • Autism
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) – also referred to as Dyspraxia
  • Specific learning differences e.g., Dyslexia, Dyscalculia

There are local services that can provide support for neurodivergent children, young people and their families. You can read more on the Local Offer website.


Everyone is responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

If you think a child is being abused or neglected, please contact Portsmouth City Council’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH):

  • During office hours – phone 023 9268 8793 or email the team
  • Out of office hours – phone 0300 555 1373 – leave your name and number and the team will call you back as soon as possible

See more information from the Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Partnership Board.

Looked after children and care leavers

A child who has been in the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours in known as a looked-after child. Looked after children are also often referred to as ‘children in care’.

Children can be looked after by agreement with parents or by order of a court. Most are safe from harm and do well, however for some there are particular risks and many children face more vulnerabilities because of their experiences prior to being in care.

Children who are looked after may be living:

  • With foster parents
  • At home with their parents under the supervision of Children’s Social Care
  • In a residential children’s home
  • With extended family members (known as kinship placements)
  • With family friends (also known as non-relative placement)
  • Other residential settings like schools or secure units

Therefore, even though a child is looked after, they may not be living in what may be traditionally seen as a “care” environment. Read more about residential care for children on the Portsmouth City Council website.

A child stops being looked after when they are adopted, return home or turn 18, when they become known as a care leaver.

Health and wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers

Looked after children and care leavers are four times more likely to have an emotional or mental health need than their non-looked after peers.

Local authorities, commissioners and providers of healthcare have statutory duties to ensure that these children and young people have their health needs fully assessed.