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Poole Refuge 'Helping Hands' Garden Project with Sensory Garden

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As I’m sure many are aware due to the nature of the Refuge for women and men who have suffered domestic violence and their children who have lived with and witnessed traumatic scenes, residents are not allowed any friends to visit.  The location must remain highly confidential because some perpetrators can go to extraordinary lengths to find their victims.  This is why it is important that we have an outdoor space where children and adults can be stimulated and have space to personally develop thus start to recover.  Our aim as Poole Refuge ‘Helping Hands’ charity is to make everyone’s stay at Refuge a positive experience, enhancing self-esteem and enabling positive future independence.

Helping Hands Charity Supporting Poole Domestic Abuse Refuge

Our vision for the ‘Garden Project with Sensory Garden’ is to create a Garden which has multifunctional spaces and inclusive equipment to create multi ability play areas.  We want to create a diverse outdoor space which can stimulate different senses and allow each child to play independently or with their peers and allows adults to relax, contemplate and heal.

We have planned the following; Seating area for all with sail shading, Quad Play Fort with climbing, slide, balance bridge etc, benches creating quiet areas, raised planters for recreational planting and a sensory garden with equipment and sensory planting.  The whole project will serve many victims of Domestic Abuse for many years to come, giving it longevity and real purpose.

The purpose of our sensory garden would be to trigger various neurological experiences, these sensory experiences can be highly impactful – residents can become more receptive to the world around them in a positive manner.  This allows children and adults to improve elements of their cognitive function, whilst remaining in a safe, relaxing environment.  Many play areas are focused towards physical activity and may be quite busy and loud.  Some children can find these types of places intimidating and scary, but sensory play gardens are designed in a different way.  We have chosen items to include the following;

Sensory Panels where children can get hands on experiences and feel the different textures of a variety of materials, to reflect, which are transparent, some that feel hot, cold and hard, whilst others are warm and soft, where different colours attract different children.

Chimes, soothing musical set of eight multicoloured chimes will bring music to our garden allowing creation of melodies.

Vertical Xylophone with its pleasing notes can let children make music effortlessly, creating different tones as well as developing physical coordination.

Light and Sound Arch will be a striking gateway to our sensory garden which includes multi-coloured panels that cast an ever-changing light show, combined with more outdoor musical chimes.
Drums. Set of four bass drums where children can tap out rhythms with their hands on high impact drums.

Outdoor Ball Tower with timber chutes and wooden balls will be suitable for repetitive play and motor skill's development, but most of all will be a fun item.

Within the sensory sarden we plan to have raised beds edged with engraved seating which will allow etching of engraved designs, be easier to use for all and will also stop plants getting trampled.  The beds will be filled with scented and edible plants, play sculptures and touch pads.  Mirrors will be positioned in the centre of raised beds to enhance the visual effect.

The walkway around the sensory garden will be made up of different surfaces including bark/wood chip, pebbles, grass and outdoor play carpet.

We also planned to have in another area of the garden a small Nature Reserve inviting numerous creatures for all to explore and learn about nature and its wonderful flora and fauna.  With a Bug Hotel all can observe minibeasts, creating opportunities to learn and care for wildlife thus teaching children to observe, respect and handle sensitively.  Planting in this area will be native wild flowers including daisies and buttercups attracting wildlife.  Ivy’s flowers and seeds are a good source of food and pollen.  By installing cameras into bird boxes all can watch birds nesting in the spring, bringing up the next generation of fledglings into the world.  An activity making ‘Fat Cakes’ will keep our feathered friends happy and full over the winter.  A shallow water feature will attract the widest range of wildlife which is essential for the lifecycles of frogs, dragonflies and water beetles, and will also make it easier for creatures like hedgehogs and birds to bathe.

Fort Play Structure which will incorporate fun and physical activity to promote healthy play and offers an imaginative adventure.  With combinations of five decks set at 1.5m high and featuring a multitude of towers, bridges, slides, steps, and climbers, children can explore to their hearts content.

A Log Train Set would be a popular imaginative play item letting children explore their imaginations through play, taking them into a fantasy world allowing them to escape the traumas they have previously experienced.

A Mud Kitchen will also be used for sensory play and can help develop children’s imagination and social skills.  Social skills with children who have suffered traumas can often be challenging.  A mud kitchen can create freedom and fun whilst collaborating and creating together, offering a perfect therapeutic environment.  Children can mix, sieve, sort, slosh, mash and stir, explore materials, create messy concoctions or experiment with liquids.

A Play Sandpit featuring a wooden roof, is perfect to protect children from the sun and rain, allowing all year round learning and development.  There are basically no rules or instructions when playing with sand – children can dig around, build with it, pretend with it, sift it, and explore.  The act of pouring sand in and out of containers gives children a thorough understanding of volume and capacity.  Simply by adding some containers, buckets or measuring cups, children will experiment and learn, along with developing Science Concepts.

We require a Central Seating area for all, allowing social interaction between all who have suffered.  The resident women, men and children can gain support and strength from each other, in an environment which is inviting, relaxing and comfortable.  Survivors have frequently said that the best support for dealing with domestic abuse and its aftermath was to talk to other victims who had experienced it themselves.  One of the reasons survivors find it hard to talk to family members or friends is that they do not have first-hand knowledge of domestic violence and abuse.

We are now fundraising for the 'Garden Project with Sensory Garden' and hope to have it completed by Summer 2022, if not sooner.  During COVID we have realised the urgency and need for this Project is paramount.  During Lockdown residents have no escape and the garden became a solace however at the moment, as it stands, it is totally inadequate as a place of refuge and healing.  We estimate that the whole project will cost £35,000 plus a contingency of £3,000.  If you can help by organising a fundraising event no matter how big or small or you know of a Company who are looking for a charity to support then please contact the Karen and Kevin on 07743 782695 or Email [email protected]

Thank You. 

To keep up to date with progress, please visit the Poole Refuge Helping Hands Facebook page.

Poole Refuge Helping Hands Charity No: 117467

Boy Garden

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