Gift of multi-sensory toys to brighten children’s lives

Paul Irwin and Martin Gallagher (centre) join Family Time Service workers Sofia Anwar and Rachel Davis who received the Smile Toy Box gifts. With them is Inspire Bucks trustee Clive Wayland (right)

Children with additional needs, who visit Buckinghamshire Council’s Family Time Service centres in Wycombe and Aylesbury, now have special interactive multi-sensory toys to play with thanks to a £250 gift from the local charity Inspire Bucks.

The charity, better known for providing Christmas gifts to vulnerable children and young people throughout Buckinghamshire, heard of the centres’ year-round need for specialist toys and responded from its Smile fund.

Each Smile Toy Box contains interactive multi-sensory rollers and balls, a ‘magic ball’ to develop motor skills, and a multi-coloured star projector light. The sensory toys will benefit children with additional needs in supporting them to be stimulated, calm and focused.

Inspire Bucks Chairman Paul Irwin said: “These Smile Toy Boxes are an example of the huge difference a targeted amount of money can make, which the professional Family Time Service teams couldn’t necessarily afford from their budget.”

Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, said: “Our social care teams do such vital and specialist work, and budgets are tight, so generous gifts like this make a huge difference to the children they work with. I’m very grateful for the ongoing support from Inspire Bucks.”

The Family Time Service enables direct family time between children in local authority care and their birth families, aiming to make their time together as positive as it can be.

Paul Irwin said Inspire Bucks was able to increase the work it did beyond gifts at Christmas through the support of Buckinghamshire’s Clare Foundation, which had offered mentoring, advice and a wide charity knowledge base, as well as operational financial support.

“As a new young charity still finding our feet, we really appreciate the support from the Clare Foundation,” said Paul. “It means that together we can do more small things that make a big difference.”

Clare Foundation CEO Martin Gallagher said: ‘The Clare Foundation are delighted to work with Paul and his team at Inspire Bucks. They’ve shown that they ‘get it done’, working all over the county to help vulnerable people and families, and ensure that those who need help get it. We look forward to an engaging and fruitful partnership.”