The initial idea.
When the UK government announced a nationwide lockdown in March 2020, we knew our families would be up against it, with all the standard difficulties that lockdown brought but with the additional challenges of explaining social distancing, changes to routine and heightened anxities to children with alternative learning needs and some with behaviours that challenge.
The team got to work on thinking of a way to still provide a service to these families and on the 5th April 2020 Sensecere completed its first Sensory Activity box delivery. The boxes had multiple benefits - providing a structured activity for potentially frazzled parents and a reminder to the children that Sensecere was still around for them, even though it wasn't in the usual way.
What's in the box?
These boxes include five to six sensory activities which are designed to be safe, reusable and help parents to play and have fun with their children whilst at home .
Each activity comes with full PECS symbol instructions and the materials needed, including all items such as safe-for-children glue and paint. It was especially important to do this as we’re unable to make assumptions that households would have these items readily available or be able to access them in such difficult times.
The deliveries themselves offered a good opportunity to support parents with a distanced front-door chat every two weeks and a wave to the child from the window. This proved especially useful when children were struggling to be so out of routine (no school or weekend clubs). We were able to offer some strategies that could potentially eliviate anxiety or behaviours that challenge around this and also some reassurance to the parents.
Ongoing service and support to families in need.
Along with the boxes weekly texts were sent to parents, as a means to keep in touch. Parents responded kindly and shared photographs of the children using the activity box. Also included was an initial information pack signposting to relevant sites for further ideas. We also provided our contact details and encouraged all parents to call for support at any stage, as often as they wanted.
Before lockdown, we were always available to provide a listening ear, support, and guidance in using sensory materials to the parents. We would always have a hand-over chat with parents at the sessions which encouraged transparency and clear communication between service and family. Easing the impact of stress and isolation is one of Sensecere's priorities, I believe we are still accomplishing this now, albeit in a very different way.
So far, we have completed five delivery box runs (every two weeks) to families in Fareham, Eastleigh and surrounding areas.
The feedback has been that these have been a life line, the children have been excited to receive them and it has inspired parents to try sensory messy play activities at home. Sensecere has increased its numbers of children as we have reached out to parents of another local playscheme to see if they would also like to recieve these activity boxes.
The bottom line.
Resources are costly, particularly resources that need to be adapted for children who have challenges with dexterity. Our families have been so grateful for the difference these boxes have made - parents feel confident in using sensory materials, children are more relaxed and happy which in turn creates a happier home for all of the family. We hope to be able to continue with this service to our existing families and others who may need us.