It’s an inspiring place with an inspiring space.
Preston’s multisensory venue The Space Centre on Pedders Lane, Ashton, which caters for those with special needs, was forced to shut its doors in March due to the pandemic.
But now it has reopened, albeit with fewer sessions and has proved so popular that places are fully booked until September.
With three sensory rooms and other facilities it is the largest multisensory centre in the U.K catering for people with a range of disabilities from autism to physical disabilities.
Acting Manager Laurie Deacon said: “Our staff have just been brilliant working so hard to get it all turned round. Thorough cleaning and social distancing measures are in place, as well as a temperature check on arrival.
“As many of our service users are vulnerable and therefore still shielding, we will be offering a sensory library, giving our clients the chance to hire our specialist equipment .”
The Centre is open only for pre-booked visitors with additional needs and their households. Numbers are restricted and the number of sessions offered have been reduced due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Laurie said: “For over 25 years we have provided sensory sessions for the members of our community with special needs, offering a lifeline for families, who otherwise, wouldn’t have anywhere else to go. For many, visiting the Space Centre provided the only chance for relaxation, letting off steam in a safe space, therapy and special time with loved ones, therefore it was truly heartbreaking when we were no longer able to provide a service that is so important to so many people.
“In over a week we received countless enquiries for sessions, with people desperate to access the Centre once more. We (usually) have two to 12 sessions a day with one to 25 persons in a session. Now we are down to around six to eight sessions a day to allow for the cleaning time and we’re trying to run a reduced staff so there are not too many (people) in at a time.”
The restrictions have meant that a family unit i.e. all who live in the same household, can come in and use a sensory room for an hour. Some adults have also come in for sessions.
Equipment ranges from slides to water beds and light displays but the Centre’s ball pools are not in use at the moment. Staff must wear full protective equipment to disinfect each room and clean all the equipment between bookings.
All the team at the Centre are well aware of how vital their service is. Laurie said: “We desperately want to help as many families as possible, many of whom have felt extremely isolated and frustrated during lockdown.
“Furthermore, as a charity that relies on contributions to fund our state of the art equipment, we have been negatively impacted, like many others, by a decrease in donations throughout the pandemic. We hope that in the coming months, our local community can come together to help support us through this difficult period so that we can continue to provide a service that is vital for so many.”