Skills for life

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


Rachel Rule and Jade Hedges-Stearn are Occupational Therapy students at Plymouth university. Both students have experience of supporting people with Autism, learning difficulties and mental health conditions and they are employed as paediatric enablers, working part time alongside their degree. As enablers they support young people to attend ‘Rooted’, a group run by Routeways who are a local Plymouth charity supporting children, young people and their families to overcome disadvantage. Rooted enables young people to engage in outdoor, gardening, baking or craft activities whilst teaching them social skills and offering emotional support.

Through attending the group with service users, Rachel and Jade recognised that the premises did not have somewhere for young people to escape to when they felt overwhelmed or needed some space. In line with Routeways current focus on becoming a mental health and wellbeing hub, whilst making the group accessible for young people with mental health conditions in addition to Autism, Rachel and Jade decided to volunteer to create this space at the group over their summer break from University.

The aim of the summer Sense-Aware project was to research and fundraise for a range of sensory equipment, educate others about the importance of supporting the management of sensory needs within this population and finally set up a sensory room within the already existing Routeways group, to benefit those with Autism and facilitate their engagement in a range of activities.

Having spent in excess of 100 voluntary hours researching, raising awareness and fundraising for the project during the summer break, the area that was available for the sensory area to be set up was sadly badly vandalised by a member of the public, leaving it unsuitable to use for the project.

Therefore, we are now seeking help to fund a new place to set up our group on the premises! The children have been so excited for this venture to commence and after everybody's hard work we would really hate for this project not to become a reality. The benefits that it could have for children/young people in the community could be vast - sensory based interventions are often used to support children to begin to recognise and regulate their own behaviour, in addition to learning about how they can affect themselves and others.


We have the opportunity to teach the children skills for life as well as a place to go to just "be" without the pressures of the outside world. As previously mentioned - we have spent 100+ hour over summer volunteering to make this a reality - it means the world to us!

Location: Plymouth