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New sensory hub open at Seashells Children's Centre in Sheerness

A new safe sensory hub is now offically open for youngsters to have fun.

The new room, designed as a safe place for children with disabilities or learning difficulties to enjoy, is now open at Seashells Children’s Centre in Sheerness.

A six-figure grant from the National Lottery made the room possible.

Seashells Children and Families Centre, already has a sensory garden. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Seashells Children and Families Centre, already has a sensory garden. Picture: Simon Hildrew

Ian Townsend-Blazier is business development manager at Children and Families, a charity set up in 2002 to support young people and parents.

He said: “There’s nothing like this across the Island. We started putting together an application for funding last year.

"We started from the ground up, asking parents and carers what they thought we needed.

“A lot of them were telling us there was no sensory provision locally, so it was the first thing we put on our application.”

The award-winning Seashells Children’s Centre had a grant worth nearly £400,000 approved by the National Lottery’s Reaching Communities Programme in October.

It is expected to help thousands of families learn and play.

Seashells Children and Families Centre, Rose Street, Sheerness. Picture: Steve Crispe
Seashells Children and Families Centre, Rose Street, Sheerness. Picture: Steve Crispe

Mr Townsend-Blazier said: “We had a small pop-up sensory room open for two days a week - we had around 500 families visit us a week.

“This hub will be open for five or a six days a week.

“We’re expecting it will help thousands of people.”

Sensory rooms can be a place to relax, learn and play for children with additional needs or complex disabilities.

They can feature soft play areas as well as lights, sounds, smells and textures.

More than 80,000 people visited Seashells Children’s Centre last year.

Inside Seashells Children's and Families Centre, Sheerness. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Inside Seashells Children's and Families Centre, Sheerness. Picture: Simon Hildrew

The Rose Street centre provides community support including mental health services for children and teenagers, adult education courses and parenting programmes.

On top of the new sensory hub, the funding has created five jobs, including three family support workers.

The money will go towards a community volunteer scheme aimed at getting parents back into work.

It will also help set up workshops to raise awareness of personal safety issues both online and in the community.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheerness

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