Our Growing Great Places programme is all about connecting people who want to make our local places even better. There are many places within our local communities that provide a vital point of connection for people who may otherwise find it difficult to take part in daily activities. Life in lockdown has made the importance of our local venues, and of ways that we can connect with each other, even clearer.
Sensory World in Dewsbury is a multi-sensory centre supporting children and adults with disabilities or additional needs. They have a large sensory room with sensory lighting, bubble tube, climbing wall and many other features. Through crowdfunding with Growing Great Places, they hope to get enough pledges to develop a new sensory garden on their terrace.
The sensory garden would be a safe and secure space for mindful stimulation, with activity boards, herbs to smell and the sounds of bells and chimes. A seating area would provide a place to sit, relax, talk and have lunch.
Sensory World want to provide a space for socialising and making new friends. The garden area would become an extended space for the social café, which supports those who may be isolated or lonely. The garden would also be a relaxed and safe area for those living with dementia, autism and disabilities.
We spoke to Linda, the Project Delivery Manager, about what the centre offers and why this makes a difference for people.
“A lot of our users might have autism or dementia and find it difficult to be around lots of people. Sensory World offers a safe space they can use and prevents them being isolated. I’ve known people who have come here for the first time, stayed 10 minutes and left, maybe because they were anxious or scared. But after a few weeks it all changes as they keep coming back for longer. The carers of those who live in supported living homes tell me that they’ve never seen them so relaxed.
“Being able to add a sensory garden next to the cafe would improve the opportunities for our members. Currently I provide catering inside, but a garden would allow people to sit outside and enjoy a range of different sensory experiences. Bit by bit, they can grow in confidence.”
Lockdown hasn’t been easy for anyone, but even though Sensory World is temporarily closed Linda hasn’t let this stop her supporting some of the 80 weekly visitors who have learning difficulties or disabilities.
“There are some of our members and others in the community who aren’t able to cook for themselves. Getting food delivered to those with learning difficulties isn’t always easy. They need reassurance. Along with Elim Church and Dewsbury Community Outreach, we’ve been catering and delivering food to those most in need.
“We needed to come together as a community and like people in many other people places, we have.”
Through the Growing Great Places crowdfunding programme, Sensory World are aiming to raise £9,061 for the new sensory garden. Kirklees Council have pledged £5,000 towards the target.
Sensory World are now seeking pledges from other people and organisations as they strive to hit their target and be able to provide new ways for people to grow their confidence and connections.