Health and wellbeing

Funding level: Up to £1,000


The-Zone! is a charity, based in Farnborough, that supports families living with autism or other additional needs in the Hampshire/Surrey border area. The-Zone! runs activities and trips for families at the weekend and during school holidays, as well as coffee mornings and a Facebook group for parents. The group is run by volunteers who are mostly all parents of children with autism.

Autism affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. A person with autism might struggle with body language, facial expressions, taking things literally and seeing another’s point of view. They may experience anxiety and sensory overload when out and about. It can be really hard for families to go out and take part in things when their children can’t cope or others are not accepting of their resultant behaviour.

The project that we would like to use the Aviva funding for is our ‘Saturday Zone’ sessions. We run these once per month during term-time. We have games consoles, laptops, toys, crafts, sensory equipment, music tech sessions and a resource library inside. Outside we have the use of a playing field and a children’s play area, as well as go-karts/bikes and outdoor games for when the weather is dry and we also hire bouncy castles in the summer.

Our aim is to provide an environment where children with autism or other additional needs and their families can come along to join in with activities and socialise with others. Families benefit from the opportunity to connect, where autism and similar needs are the norm and where everyone can feel accepted. Children with autism have difficulties with social communication and often struggle to fit in and make friends in a mainstream environment; our sessions provide the opportunity for the children to interact with others who are similar to themselves and build relationships and thus improve their social skills within a safe environment. Families often find that they and their children can become isolated as they can’t just sign up to join in with mainstream activities because of their children’s anxieties, sensory issues or resultant behaviour when they can’t cope with what is going on around them. Sometimes the children can’t even cope with school which adds to their isolation. The children’s mental health can also suffer. Our sessions make a big difference to families, enabling them to get their children out of the house and joining in with activities, improving their wellbeing. Our activities are for the whole family - the parents attend the activities with their child and any siblings.

The Aviva Community Fund money would make a huge difference to us as it would enable us to provide these Saturday sessions for the local families. We would use the money for room hire, to purchase crafts, toys and activities, and bouncy castle hire in the summer. Over the last year we have lost a significant amount of local authority funding due to cuts and changes to the eligibility criteria. We rely solely on fundraising and kind donations.

We would really appreciate you voting for our project so that we can continue to provide our much needed services. We are a volunteer run charity and have been running as The-Zone! for over 4 years. Our families struggle to find suitable and affordable activities for their children with autism or other additional needs and we believe that we are helping to fill that gap. We have over 500 parent members in our Facebook group, and we have around 100 families who attend our range of activities across the year.


Moment of Pride

We are proud of our volunteers who keep The-Zone! running & the parents who are so supportive of each other. For some children this is their only chance to join in with activities and socialise. For a few who are very isolated The-Zone! may be a lifeline. It is great to see the children progress.

Location: Hampshire


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