New sensory room a ‘major hit’ with children of homeless families
Amanda Smyth, left, and Samantha Swann at the fully-equipped sensory room in the Salvation Army’s family hub in Clonard Road

New sensory room a ‘major hit’ with children of homeless families

A NEW sensory room in Crumlin is proving to be a major hit with children of homeless families.

Staff at the Salvation Army’s Clonard Road family hub were forced to close a youngsters’ playroom when Covid hit – but the space has now been transformed into a state-of-the-art ‘chill room’.

It was made possible through the ‘RTé Does Comic Relief’ fund, which last year generated €5.8 million for charities, community and voluntary groups across Ireland.

The Salvation Army received just over €2,100 in grant aid – but sourced all the equipment rather than pay the estimated €10,000 to have it professionally kitted out.

“My colleague Amanda Smyth and her staff partner thought it would be much more useful as a sensory room, rather than lots of kids piling in at the same time,” said assistant support worker Samantha Swann, from Lucan.

“It would have cost €10,000 to have it fully fitted out, so instead we looked up the items we wanted and got it priced, we did all the work ourselves and it was much cheaper.”

The room is a valuable sanctuary for children on the autism spectrum – but can be used by any youngsters housed in the 25-room Clonard Road hub.

Staff bought bean bags, tepees, fibre optic lights, a ball pit, busy boards, bubble tubes, lava pads and a hug ball, used to comfort children.

“We have had kids come in and their parents sometimes look exhausted, their children might not sleep well, so this is a place where they can go to put the lights on, sit on a bean bag in a relaxing space, rather than the noise of the playroom it once was,” said Samantha.

“One family has a little girl with autism who loves going into the room, it helps her calm down, her mum has seen a big difference in how she behaves.”

The Salvation Army operates a booking system where families can use the room in private for 30 minutes.

Staff at the Crumlin hub take in homeless families referred to them by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and once there, try to rehouse them.