It’s always a great feeling to see the completion of a major project and after more than two years of relentless fundraising, design changes and hard work, we are thrilled that our ‘Space to Play’ project at our Footprints children’s care home has finally opened.

Originally, we were just looking to refurbish the outdated soft play and sensory room but after the initial launch, we discovered that the project was actually far bigger than first imagined and realised that major building works were required to create a new extension. The new space would house not just the sensory room but an indoor playroom and would also bring the two respite care rooms, which were in a separate building, into the main house.

It’s never easy when the goalposts change (particularly when your fundraising target increases by more than five times) but with some fantastic support from trusts, local community groups, businesses and individuals we got there in the end.

Footprints now boast a fabulous new extension which is full of natural light and really brings the outside in, enabling the children to enjoy the garden, even on rainy days. The sensory room is full of wonderful new equipment and with the addition of a hoist system, it is now fully accessible to all of the children. The two new bedrooms and their adjoining bathroom are large, colourful and modern and finally a part of the main house.

The impact that this project has had on the children who use the services at Footprints is certainly clear for all to see, in particular for resident Katy. Katy has a variety of complex and severe health conditions which means that she is often unable to go outside. The new extension has been fitted with bi-fold doors which fully open up the exterior wall so that she is now able to feel that she is outside whilst remaining inside. There are light tunnels on the ceiling which also bring in daylight to the room, adding to the effect. She has also taken up residence in one of the previous respite rooms which have now been incorporated into the main building. This means that she no longer has to go outside in order to access the other rooms and facilities and has given her a much needed, bigger space. Her bedroom has also been fitted with the light tunnels so that she can now enjoy daylight on the days that she is too unwell to leave her bed. Due to the improvements made in the new sensory and soft playroom, Katy now has full access and the ability to enjoy the physical and mental health and educational benefits that a sensory experience can bring.

It was certainly a challenge but we are all thrilled at the results and look forward to what the next project may bring.

(Written by Christina Jones, Fundraiser at Strode Park Foundation)