Unique sensory experiences in Basildon designed for children with learning difficulties


Children in Basildon with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), are set to benefit from two newly renovated sensory rooms, built in Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service’s (ECFWS) facilities.

Virgin Care – which runs the service in partnership with children’s charity Barnardo’s and Essex County Council – has funded renovations for the sensory rooms at Northlands Park Family Hub and the All About Delivery Centre in Basildon.

The sensory rooms provide a stimulating yet calming experience for children with SEND, thanks to the unique resources and equipment. The rooms are used frequently and needed a refurbishment. It inspired Kasey Brazier, Deputy Hub Coordinator at ECFWS to apply for a grant from Virgin Care’s Feel the Difference fund. The fund is a £100,000 a-year pot of money, which employees can apply for if they have an idea that will benefit service users.

Children with SEND thrive in settings that awaken their senses, mainstream socialising can often be overwhelming for them. This results in families becoming isolated from social experiences with others. Having a smaller space, filled with specialised stimulating equipment means these families have a safe space to go to, where they can socialise with one other family, reducing isolation and in line with Covid regulations and the legal capacity.

Kasey Brazier said, “The new and improved sensory rooms are equipped with a range of tools, such as fibre optic carpet, an ultraviolet LED bar, a starlight projector and other interactive toys.

“Families can book out the sensory rooms, or if a child is struggling in the midst of a group session, they can use the area as a time out away from distractions to calm down.”

Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills and supports social interaction. It also encourages discovery and independent thinking as well as inspiring the imagination.

Richard Comerford, Virgin Care’s Managing Director for the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service said, “It’s fantastic that we’re able to offer such a beneficial facility to our families. A smaller environment can be helpful because it allows parents to spend time with their children without distractions, focused on the child’s emotional development and behaviour.

“The sensory rooms also give us an opportunity to build relationships with families, they are more likely to ask for help and support if they need it, and so it’s valuable early intervention. We look forward to inviting more and more families back into our highly valued centres as social restrictions ease within the coming weeks.”

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