A BUSINESSWOMAN has announced she is opening the first ‘sensory hub’ in the Borders.
Abby Allen, 23, who lives in Galashiels, decided in the throes of the second national lockdown in December to launch the hub as a meeting place tailored for supervised fun for children and their families.
Abby, a mum of three, had run classes for newborns and young children at the start of the December when restrictions were eased, which she had hoped to resume in the new year – these, however, have not restarted due to lockdown guidelines.
Abby and her family moved to the Borders from Inverclyde last year.
She said: “I always remember thinking with my little ones there was more of a need for things you could go to do indoors when it’s raining and there’s not an awful lot to do with little ones.
“It’s a small space but I really hope it will be valuable to families to just be able to drop in for an hour or so and just have somewhere to play safely that is also going to [have] a lot of benefits for their development as well.”
The not-for-profit hub on Bank Street is a member of Social Enterprise Scotland.
It will be divided into two spaces – the creative space and the sensory space. The creative space will include a sandpit, a chalkboard wall, a water wall, and tables for messy play.
The sensory area will also feature fibre optic lights, tactile boards, and musical instruments.
Abby said: “I do things like children’s yoga, baby massage, baby yoga, mindfulness, as well as the messy play sessions in the hub as well.
“They’ll be scheduled throughout the week. They’ll be more structured activities in the hub.”
When researching for the hub and branching out her business, Abby looked into providing spaces for children on the autism spectrum.
She said: “One of the things I made a lot of effort in through lockdown with this idea that I wanted to branch out was learning about autism and how that impacts all age groups.
“And that’s why we really worked hard to design a space that’s suitable for everybody.
“So there’s not anything that’s risky for babies, but at the same time it’s somewhere that’s comfortable and happy for those that do maybe have additional needs and could benefit from a space like this.”
Abby explained that some aspects of the hub are able to be switched off or moved in order to avoid over-stimulation.
She said: “Scotland-wide, there’s not a lot of sensory-dedicated spaces.
“And I just thought, in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve really become quite committed to the community here.
“And that’s why I just thought it would be a really nice thing for families to have here and give something to local families.”
She added: “It gives people somewhere to go.”
Abby is hopeful that the hub will be able to open in April, depending on COVID-19 guidelines at the time.
For more information, readers can search for the Borders Sensory Hub on Facebook.