A VITAL support service for families with children who have special needs is appealing for more volunteers to aid its work.

The Parent Partnership Service has been running in Darlington for nearly three years, bringing a wealth of advice and information to about 175 families in that time.

The part-time scheme operates from Harewood House, near the town centre, where the Barnardo's charity and social services also have premises.

A team of 15 volunteers serves the town, providing information and support on a one-to-one basis to families with youngsters aged up to 19.

Six new recruits were recently added to the team, which is part of the local education authority, making it one of the largest parent partnership organisations in the country.

The workers undergo an intensive ten-week training course in education legislation, statutory procedures and getting parents involved in their child's education.

Service coordinator Sue Wilson said: "Our volunteers come from a range of backgrounds. They may be parents or grandparents of children with special needs, who know how complicated the procedures can be."

Now, Mrs Wilson is looking for more volunteers.

They will provide families with someone independent to talk to in confidence, help with filling in forms, someone to attend meetings with and an explanation of educational terms in a straight-forward way.

Parents or schools interested in getting further information about the service should telephone (01325) 254548.