Growing in confidence: with a Sense volunteer Buddy.

Two ladies smiling at the camera and one lady has one hand in the air.

Laely’s confidence to communicate and connect with the world is coming on leaps and bounds, thanks to Jenny, her volunteer Sense Buddy.

Laely is non-verbal and uses facial expressions, gestures, vocalisations and picture symbols to express herself.

Since joining the Sense Buddying scheme, Laely has developed a trusting, supportive friendship with her Sense Buddy.

Jenny has become an expert in Laely’s communication methods. They share many lovely moments of connection and plenty of giggles. Drawing together has become a unique means of conversation between the two, with Laely and Jenny taking turns to add to a picture before Laely proudly shows off the finished piece.

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We’re all going on a Summer Holiday!

Jai and Jack are stood smiling at the camera with a Maze in the background.

There’s nothing quite like the great British countryside. Fresh air, green grass and generous quantities of tea make the UK holiday experience something quite special. It is more than flip flops, food and factor 50. It’s a time to take a breather and focus on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. What makes Jack special was his decision to use his holiday to focus on the wellbeing of others; and he wouldn’t trade the experience for all the tea in Yorkshire.

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A new dance landscape

Sense Arts has been exploring imaginative ways of supporting people with complex disabilities to be dance leaders in the future. To develop this, a new partnership between Sense, pioneering disabled choreographer Lisa Simpson, and dancers from InterACTION are creating a new dance landscape.

Group of people positioned in an art formation with some standing up and some sat down/ lying down.

One of the guiding principles of Lisa Simpson’s dance sessions is that there is equality between everyone taking part: between instructors and students, disabled and non-disabled. A dance session is co-created between everyone who is taking part, where each person is part of a bigger whole.

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Piloting inclusive arts consultation at Sense Arts.

Young boy sat in a wheelchair being supported by a woman who is supporting him working on a Sense Arts project.

What’s it all about?

In late 2018, Sense Arts were delighted to get funding from Arts Council of England to develop a strategic arts plan for the next phase of inclusive arts at TouchBase Pears.

They want the strategy to reference the ethos and practice that they’re passionate about and showcase to the fullest, the talents of those they’re nurturing through this programme.

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It feels like home

How Sense staff at a supported living service in Sheffield helped Martin to live a more independent life.

Martin sitting on the sofa talking to his support worker
© Mike Pinches 2017

Sense first met Martin after a referral from the local authority. Martin had been living in a nursing home and staff were concerned that he was becoming increasingly withdrawn and unwilling to interact with others. The home wasn’t able to provide activities that Martin could participate in and there was a general lack of routine which left him feeling anxious and unsettled.

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After a lifetime of caring, no parent or disabled adult should be left fearing the future.

With approximately 1.7 million disabled adults being cared for by family and friends across the UK it is important that we recognise the invaluable contribution that these carers make to society.

That’s one of the reasons Sense has partnered this year with Carers Week – to recognise, celebrate and champion the amazing work that carers do, and call for more support for carers and their disabled loved ones. Particularly when it comes to thinking about and planning for the future.

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Who’s your Sense Superstar?

The Sense Awards are back for their 16th year and now is your chance to nominate your Sense Superstar. The Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as those who support them.

From celebrating carers that have provided outstanding support to their loved ones, to incredible fundraisers, or companies that have developed a new innovative product helping those with complex disabilities – there is a category for everyone and everything.

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New App to support visually impaired people at Heathrow Airport

The Aira app from Heathrow Airport

Late last year, I was really excited to see a press release from Heathrow talking about an app they were trialling to enable visually impaired people to be able to use the airport more independently.

Steven outside Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport

Like a lot of people, I find flying really stressful. I’m blind and hearing impaired and the whole environment (from security onwards) is really tricky to navigate around, plus it’s really noisy so communication can be challenging. All this can often mean that the process of checking in can take longer, thus leaving less time for important activities such as spending money in duty free and scoping out the nearest bar!  Even though you can book support through your airline, you are still reliant on this being put in place and working without a hitch, so anything that can give people more independence is to be welcomed.

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A new door opens

Portrait of Chis Punt
Sense Watford Communication Guide

Chris Punt is a good example of someone who felt very isolated and depressed when much of her remaining sight was lost. It was a very tough time for her, but with the support of her Sense Communicator Guide she has built a new life for herself.

Some people can’t wait to retire from work, others can find this a difficult transition – especially if this has been forced upon them.

Chris had always loved her work, and the people it brought her into contact with, but suddenly this was snatched away from her. “I spent my entire life supporting children and adults with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties,” she explains. “I did so many things. I had a football team with Watford Football Club; we did a bereavement group, we did music, art and craft. I just loved it so much.”

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GOT it! Ten years of incredible stories

On Monday 29 April, the Sense Get Out There (GOT) group, a community-based short break service that supports young disabled people, celebrated its 10-year anniversary. To mark the occasion, HRH The Princess Royal visited the group and was presented with a book of stories written by disabled people marking their growth in independence.

Each person’s story reveals how much their life has been touched by the Sense GOT group. For some, it is the opportunity to experience new things and visit new places that keeps them coming back. For others, it is simply the chance  to make friends. One thing is for certain, everyone has a story to tell.

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