2019, what a year it was for Sense Abilities. It was full of highs and a couple of lows. Last year saw us receiving funding to put on free community sensory sessions which were a huge success.
Sense Abilities could be evolving.
Where it all started.
The idea behind Sense Abilities started a few years ago when the founder, Suzannah Jones, wanted to create a public sensory cafe and garden. To her back then it was a huge one to undertake so it stayed as just that, an idea!
After much thought in 2016 and determined to do something with it she decided to scale it down. The planning started on launching a sensory bus instead. Again not an easy task and one that would need a fair bit of funding to get going. Not deterred this idea evolved into a more simplistic one, pop-up sensory rooms, and Sense Abilities was born. We now have a fantastic equipment range, including dark tents and dens, to create pop-up sensory environments at any venue. Our pop-up sensory environments are enjoyed by any age or ability. They create a unique mobile versatility for individuals, groups and organisations.
But why now?
Through the journey Sense Abilities has had so far, several things have come to light.
Torquay Town Centre has very few family friendly venues that are engaging for their young visitors. Also there are no public sensory spaces in Torbay that are accessible to any age or ability and certainly none that brings Sensory into the normality of every day life inviting everyone, not just a select few, to enjoy the benefits of accessing a good sensory environment.
We decided we want to offer a venue that not only fills this gap but encourages inclusion and diversity within the town centre.
At the moment we are looking into the possibility creating a Sense Abilities Sensory Cafe/Hub with in Torquay Town Centre. We don’t want this to replicate the Play Cafe model as we already have a fantastic Play Cafe within the Bay and in fact we have had the pleasure of ‘popping up’ with our Dark Tent and equipment of their SEN Sunday Sessions before now.
We want this to be a unique offering for the Town Centre and one that compliments what is already available with stimulating the senses being the main objective of the venue.
Whilst Sense Abilities offers pop-up sensory environments we would like to have a static venue that is all inclusive and can be used daily. We want to put sensory on the high-street!
We would propose to have a range of sensory equipment within for all to benefit from and enjoy. A small cafe area would complement this offering a range of healthy refreshments, snacks and light bites. Individuals, Groups, Visitors and Organisations would be able to use and hire areas of the venue.
For example: How great would it be to have an area of the venue bringing the ‘outdoors in’, an indoor garden with the sight, sounds and feel of the outdoors. This would be in addition to specialist lighting and interactive sensory equipment.
We would like to provide sensory sessions, group activities and other organisational sessions that would enhance what the Sensory Cafe/Hub has to offer daily. A Small information point perhaps?
The possibilities are endless and our creative juices are definitely flowing. We are full of ideas but want to get it right and get a good foundation developed first. We have put out our first market research survey which was extremely useful in gathering the thoughts of local people about this new idea.
So far over 87% who have completed the survey have seen this proposal as a positive one for the town centre which is an amazing result!
Not completed our survey? You can find it HERE
So where are we now?
We’ve submitted a property proposal for a property in town and now waiting on whether this will be accepted or not. If it is then it will be all systems go with cash flows, business planning and that all important funding bid writing. If it isn’t, well it’s not the end, far from it. We’ll continue to build up the foundations ready for when the right property comes along.
We hasten to add that our pop-ups, which are our flagship service will not change. We want to continue to offer these as an outreach service that compliments the Hub.
It is indeed a ‘watch this space’ moment.
We’re possibly evolving, just not sure of the time frame!
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