The team went to visit Little Miracles in Peterborough, which is a parent-led support group and charity for families with children that have additional needs, disabilities and life limiting conditions.
We met Michelle, the centre’s founder and Jack, Little Miracles’ Grant Writer and Fundraising Apprentice. We sat in their wonderfully relaxing Sensory Room for a chat to hear all about the great work they do.
About the Spinney
Michelle and Jack showed us around their fantastic and colourful centre, the Spinney. It was purpose built for them in 2013 by Children in Need and DIY SOS. The whole centre is designed to be fun, colourful and accessible to everyone, inside and out. The spacious hall is full of toys, the kitchen is designed to be used by adults and children of all abilities and the outdoor space is spectacular.
It includes a tree-house and a trampoline that were both wheelchair-accessible (which the team could not resist trying out!), as well as an edible garden. There is also a state of the art Sensory Room which uses interactive lights and sound to create a safe, relaxing space for children with additional needs.
How was Little Miracles founded?
Although Little Miracles was only founded four years ago, the organisation is rapidly and organically expanding. Little Miracles have since set up in several locations and also mentor other groups where there is a need for similar projects.
Michelle said “We never thought it would end up with over 3,000 children and their families, but our actions are led by the need for them so it has grown really quickly.”
We were really impressed and moved by the inspiring story of how the organisation began. Little Miracles was founded after Michelle realised that there was not nearly enough facilities for her own child. She and another mum started an informal coffee morning in a local café so that the children and parents could socialise and support one another.
As more people joined the group – and they realised how unfeasible it is to squeeze lots of wheelchairs around tables in a café – they relocated to a local hall. Then, after finding that they were unable to hire a hall nearby that was big enough to accommodate everyone and their needs, they ended up needing their own premises.
They acquired an old, falling down building that had asbestos, so they applied to Children in Need for help and successfully gained their support. In September 2013 Children in Need demolished the old building and built their impressive current facilities.
Helping children with disabilities and their parents
They now run 52 sessions per week for over 3,000 children, and they are expanding all the time, taking over more centres across the country. Little Miracles provides a hugely valuable service to the parents as well as children; in addition to the face to face support and activities they offer, they also have a live chat function on their website so they can provide emotional support and specialist one-to-one advice to parents.
Little Miracles focus much of their work on the needs of children with autism and end of life care – Michelle told us since there is no children’s hospice nearby, these services were really needed in the area.
We were taken aback by how friendly and supportive the atmosphere at the centre was. The Spinney is filled with happy children enjoying the warm and welcoming centre, as well as being a vital resource for local parents.
You can learn more about Little Miracles by visiting their website.
Are you interested in setting up a project that works with children with additional needs? Take a look at the Knowledge Bank at our resources; you can find our resource on NetBuddy, which is a service that offers tips and guidance on working with children who have additional needs.Featured project: Little Miracles,