Safe Space celebrates first birthday in style

Safe Space 'stay and play' group for families with children with additional needs - based in Little Stoke, Bristol.

Little Stoke based group provides a much appreciated facility for families of children with additional needs.

A parent-led group which provides twice-weekly play sessions for children with additional needs has celebrated its first birthday.

Based at The Stokes Youth and Community Centre on Little Stoke Lane, next to Little Stoke Primary School, Safe Space offers ‘stay and play’ sessions every Thursday between 4pm and 6pm and on Saturdays between 1.30pm and 4.30pm.

The group aims to cater for children with a wide range of additional needs, irrespective of whether they have an official diagnosis. Parents attending the group are able to relax and share experiences with others.

All are welcome, including siblings, grandparents and carers, with each person asked to contribute £2 per visit.

The centre offers a main hall, complete with a large bouncy castle and lots of games and toys including train tracks, games consoles, table tennis and table football. Arts and craft activities are organised, while a smaller ‘sensory room’ offers a space for children to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Safe Space also has a large, secure outside area in which the children can run around and play.

Marcus Yates, one of the charity’s trustees and a member of the management committee, says the facility is a godsend to families who find it stressful to attend mainstream children’s play venues, for fear that their child might have a ‘meltdown’, which can cause embarrassment and occasionally lead to complaints from the parents of other children.

“The advantage is that we have this building completely to ourselves. Parents and carers can relax, without feeling that they need to be watching their children all of the time.”

The group is able to take advantage of the centre’s kitchen, allowing refreshments to be provided on a ‘help yourself’ basis in a café-style social space.

Sessions currently attract around 20 families, with each typically bringing along one to three children.

One dad we spoke to, Rich from Hanham, said the Saturday session is a great place to bring his three children, one of whom has additional needs. “There aren’t many places that we can all go together. The kids really miss it if we can’t come for some reason.”

“For me, it’s great to share experiences and discuss coping mechanisms with the other parents and carers.”

Other parents we spoke to praised the relaxed atmosphere at Safe Space and said it was a great to receive support from other families who “understand”.

For more information, visit or the Safe Space page on Facebook – or just pop in to one of the sessions.

Safe Space 'stay and play' group for families with children with additional needs - based in Little Stoke, Bristol.

Photos: 1 (L-r) Safe Space trustees and committee members Lisa Yates, Marcus Yates and Beth Townsend. 2 Some of the families at the birthday session.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Postscript: Safe Space is run by parent volunteers, all who have their own children with additional needs. They are a small team consisting of : Marcus Yates, Lisa Yates, Beth Townsend, Dave Townsend, Mike McDermott and Karen Coles.

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