Family newsletter December 2022

Welcome to our final family newsletter of the year!

Read on for:

It’s been great to see many of you in person at our family events this year and we look forward to seeing you in more virtual and in-person activities in 2023.

Rebecca Liddiard, head of Sense specialist services for children and young people

Looking back at 2022

Thank you for your feedback!

Your thoughts on our recent survey were invaluable. Highlights included:

  • 89% of you said that your children enjoy taking part in our virtual activities.
  • 82.1% feel more confident communicating with their child.
  • 100% would recommend the activities to other families.

It was great to hear the different ways your children show that they enjoy the sessions: smiling, laughing, gestures and more. You also told us about improvements you’d like and we’re now simplifying the booking process and broadening our activities.

You can send feedback at any time to your identified worker or our support manager, Caroline: [email protected].

What’s been going on in your area?

Our northern team have tried out new venues this year, which have proved really popular, including Mayna Science Adventure Centre and an ice skating rink!

The midlands team were excited to hold events in our new dedicated children’s space at Touchbase Pears and welcomed 35 families over the summer for our weekly family days. Fun was had by all with creative experiences including sensory cupcakes, underwater seascapes, music and sensory stories.

Family activities in the East have been enjoyed at our family centre and have included dance and sport. Adventures have also included a canal boat trip in summer, forest school and Snozone!

In the south, family activities included a sensory story session led by the British Library and a yoga class from the Maha Devi Yoga Centre. We also held a climbing session at the Castle Climbing Centre. Soon we’ll be sharing details of how you can sign up for swimming sessions in our hydrotherapy pool.

One of our summer highlights in the south west was our canal boat rip. Some of the children even got to drive the boat! We also had a memorable day at Bristol cycling centre.

In Wales this summer, families took part in lots of arts and sports activities at our Caerphilly centre, including dance and hockey. We also had a workshop with Animal Encounters. We met a range of animals, including armadillos, tortoises, meerkats and snakes!

Our siblings and young carers’ residential

A group of children stand outside. They are wearing hard hats and watching an instructor

In October our siblings and young carers team visited Condover Hall for a residential trip. We sang, swam, climbed, fired arrows, danced and ate too many sweets! Most importantly, we had an amazing time.

The team are busy arranging virtual and in-person activities for siblings and young carers across the country.

Register for their upcoming sessions.

A group of children wave ribbons in a colourful room

Our new children’s room at TouchBase Pears opened

Our new children’s studio in Birmingham has sensory toys, adjustable play stations and specialist equipment for 700 disabled children. It includes unique, functional furniture that children can explore. Families have been using the space already and we look forward to many more fun-filled activities there.

Sense at the Conservative and Labour party conferences

Our policy team attended the Labour and Conservative party conferences. We spoke with parliamentarians about Sense’s campaigns, research and services for people with complex disabilities.

The 2022 Sense Awards

The 19th Sense Awards took place on 24 November. This special night is always a highlight of the year. It’s our way of celebrating the achievements of people with complex disabilities and the people who support them.

Coming up in 2023

Upcoming virtual activities calendar

If you’d like to come along to any of our regular virtual activities during term time, check out the calendar below.

Monday1-2pm Yoga (Limited spaces)
Tuesday11.30am-12.30pm Sparkles pre-school [email protected] 10-11am or 6.30-7.30pm Parent/carer activities (Limited spaces) [email protected]5-6pm After school club    
WednesdaySchool holiday virtual days 1:30-2:30pm Forest school [email protected]
Thursday1:30-2:30 Resonance board workshop [email protected]7-8pm Navigating the MSI world – Parent/carer information [email protected]
Friday1-2pm Navigating the MSI world – Parent/carer information [email protected]

Online Sparkles pre-school group

This specialist early years group for under-fives runs every Tuesday morning and focuses on communication and play. It’s open to all families and we provide practical resources to make sure everyone can take part.

Join the fun by contacting Natalie Cabrera on 07866986411 or emailing [email protected]

Save the date: upcoming in-person and virtual family events

We’ll be in touch with details on how to sign up shortly.


Try out music, dance, arts and crafts, sport, sensory stories and more! We’ll be in touch shortly with details on how to sign up. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

  • Saturday 7 January
  • Saturday 21 January
  • Saturday 4 February
  • Wednesday 15 February (half term event)
  • Saturday 18 February
  • Saturday 4 March
  • Saturday 18 March
  • Wednesday 12 April (Easter family event)
  • Wednesday 31 May (half term event)


Circus family events with Star Circus (free): 11 January (Cambridge), 16 January (Norwich), 23 January (Peterborough). All performances start at 4.45pm.

Dance sessions at the Focus Centre Peterborough: 22 January, 19 February, 12 March. All sessions start at 2pm.


Teen/young people’s group: 28 January, 25 February, 25 March, 29 April, 27 May, 24 June. 11am–3pm.

Family Saturday Club: 28 January, 25 February, 25 March, 29 April, 27 May, 24 June. 10.30–2.30pm.

We will also be hosting family events in the children’s room on 23 February, 6 April, 1 June, 27 July.


We’ve got some exciting plans for 2023 in the north of England, including visits to:

  • Snozone snow sports centre.
  • Smithills Open Farm.
  • Ice skating.
  • The Space Centre in Preston.
  • Hollingworth lake.


We’re planning a yoga event in January, activities with the British Library at our Barnet centre over the February half term, and ice skating. Plus, look out for companion cycling at Bushy Park in May half term.

South West

The team in the south west are busy making plans for 2023 and will be in touch with details of exciting family events soon, look out for details in your email and on the Facebook group. We are planning events at Woodside and are also hoping to run family events including beach days, sailability, surfing and farm trips!

Our preschool group ‘Twiglets’ also continues to run at Sense Centre Woodside in Bristol, every Friday during term time.


Catch Star Circus at Llandudno Town Hall on Wednesday 25 January. Plus, we’ll be offering a new regular pre-school group during term times, based at Craig Y Parc School in Pentyrch, Cardiff. If you would like to join the group, please contact Caitlin on 07572311557.

Supporting families at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Our MSI practitioner Natalie Cabrera holds a clinic on the second Friday of each month at the sight and sound centre adjacent Great Ormond Street Hospital. If you’re visiting, pop by and say hello! You can contact Natalie on 07866 986411 or email: [email protected]

Sense Holidays in 2023

We’ll be opening applications for Sense Holidays on 14th December 2022. Following feedback from parents, for the first time in 2023 we’ll have some shorter holiday options available for children. Applications close on 27th January 2023.

Free webinar and Q&A: planning for the future with wills and trusts

Wednesday 22 February, 10am: Join our online session with solicitor Philip Warford from Renaissance Legal, as he explains how families can plan for the future. Email [email protected] or call us on 0300 330 9257 (Monday-Friday 9-5pm).

Advice in case of power blackouts

By now, we’ve all heard the warnings that there could be three-hour blackouts this winter if demand for power outstrips supply. These blackouts would be planned and announced in advance, and are likely to happen in the mornings or evenings.

Here are some ways that vulnerable families can prepare for power outages:

Sign up to the Thames Water priority services register

Thames Water customers can sign up to their priority services register. The service includes a dedicated 24-hour emergency helpline, tailored communications suited to your needs (for example, bills in braille or large print).

Shop online at Sense

Find a Christmas gift or unique card designs in Sense’s online shop or at your nearest Sense charity shop.