We’re thrilled to be bringing free play sessions for disabled children to more locations in England

Thanks to an incredible grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, our Connect and Play service is growing! This means that we’re going to be able to offer free accessible play sessions to thousands more disabled children across England. 

Rachel, who heads up our programmes, explains why this support is so vital. 

A little girl lying on a cushion enjoys some sensory play, as an adult holds a colourful windmill toy for her to look at.

All children deserve to get the best possible start in life. But often that’s denied for children with complex disabilities. 

That’s why Sense launched Connect and Play this year. At our Hubs in Birmingham, Loughborough and Denbigh, we offer free play sessions for 0-8-year-olds.

Our play leaders support disabled children to communicate and explore the world, and help their families learn how to play and connect with them. 

We’re thrilled that, thanks to an amazing £1.2 million grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, we’re going to be able to take this service to thousands more families across England. 

Play isn’t just fun – it’s vital for children’s development and communication

We’ve heard from families with children with complex disabilities that there’s very little support available to them in their children’s early years. Often, they can’t access mainstream play groups. 

One of the most common reasons that parents come to Sense in the first place is that they don’t know how to play with their young children. 

Connect and Play has given families a safe space, where they can not only learn how to do this, but simply have fun and experience joy with their children. 

It also gives them the opportunity to meet other parents in similar situations. They can share experiences, and form a community. 

Sense has provided a real lifeline for these families. 

two young children are painting on a table while stiting down

So far, we’ve supported over 800 children and their families

Since launching earlier this year, we’ve supported over 800 children and their families in Birmingham, Loughborough and Denbigh and through our virtual programme. This has been so successful, and the feedback we’ve had has shown how much families needed this support. 

We’ve offered a range of different activities, all designed to help parents learn how to communicate with their children. Whether it’s forest school, sensory play, arts and crafts or rowdy dancing sessions!

We’ve also introduced families to communication tools and accessible technology that has opened up their worlds.

Our play leaders bring a huge range of expertise, from hospital-based play therapy, to baby massage and speech and language therapy. 

We’ve also created dedicated play studios in Birmingham and Loughborough, thanks to support from other funders.

Children with complex disabilities and their families often have to make lots of hospital visits. The spaces we’ve created at Sense are warm, friendly and welcoming. They’re packed with specialist accessible equipment, so there’s something for every child. 

With this funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, we’ll be able to have ten dedicated staff members working across seven play studios, to bring joy to even more families. 

A young boy is sitting in a wooden high chair playing with yellow feathers.

Thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund, we’ll reach thousands more families

Our ambition is to reach 5,000 more disabled children and their families with our Connect and Play service by 2026.

I’m absolutely thrilled that, thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund, we’ll be able to build a solid foundation to reach that goal, and to keep supporting thousands of children for many years into the future. 

We’ll be setting up new accessible play studios in four more locations around England, and launching a virtual Connect and Play service, too. 

That means thousands more children and their families will be supported to build relationships with each other. 

Connect and Play is all about the fun and joy we can bring to people’s lives. I’m so excited to be able to do that all over the country. 

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