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Spalding couple hail 'game changer' service in Market Deeping for pre-school children who need specialist help

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A group for pre-school children is hoping that it can help families in south Lincolnshire by opening up its excellent facilities for them.

Mini Magpies is a specialist play and communication group for children aged up to five years old who have multi-sensory (vision and/or hearing) impairments.

A range of play and communication activities are offered based on the individual needs of the children attending.

Charlie Clucas with Mini Magpies leader leader Nicky Burgess at the Sense building in Market Deeping (57339253)
Charlie Clucas with Mini Magpies leader leader Nicky Burgess at the Sense building in Market Deeping (57339253)

The group, which is free to attend, is run by Nicky Burgess at Sense’s Manor Lodge base in Market Deeping.

Manor Lodge boasts a large sensory room with access to specialist resources, changing facilities, a hydrotherapy pool, outdoor space, a kitchen and a living room.

Nicky, who has been in her role for more than five years, would love to hear from parents of children who could benefit from the group’s stellar set-up.

“We’re a specialist pre-school group who support children aged under five with multi-sensory impairments,” she said.

“We offer families opportunities to access specialist support from professionals with knowledge and experience of children with multi-sensory difficulties.

“Weekly meetings also enable families to make new connections and to learn new skills to support their child’s play and communication development.”

With parents of new-born children spoilt for choice when it comes to sending their kids to groups, the same can’t be said for those with additional needs.

Andrew and Nikki Clucas, who live in Spalding, have sent both of their children – Mia (5) and Charlie (3) – to the group.

Both Mia and Charlie are severely disabled and are registered as blind, but dad Andrew admits that Mini Magpies helped them massively on multiple fronts.

“We felt a bit lost after getting Mia’s diagnosis,” he said.

“Nikki was finding that the groups just didn’t benefit Mia – and being the odd one out was upsetting for her.

“Going to Mini Magpies was an absolute lightbulb moment for us.

“We felt like we belonged and everything was geared towards giving our daughter a chance to develop in her own way and discover her likes and dislikes.

“There’s also a conveyor-belt of knowledge there, with other parents on different stages of their journey passing information down that is absolutely vital for families.

“When we had Charlie and he also had additional needs, Mini Magpies allowed us to use their facilities from when he was two weeks old.

“He is still attending now and benefitting from Nicky’s expert help and support.

“The equipment and toys that they have are very expensive and niche, so it’s great to be able to use them and discover which things are worth investing in yourself.

“I’d encourage any parent with a child that has multi-sensory needs to take their child there, it was a real game-changer for us.”

Being a part of the Mini Magpies group also opens up the possibility of attending various family days and events that are arranged by Sense.

In recent times the group has visited Norfolk Lavender, Snozone (Milton Keynes) and The Deep (Hull), which all offer varying sensory experiences for the children.

If you’d like to find out more about Mini Magpies and its work, you can email nicola.burgess@sense.org.uk or contact the information and advice team at Sense info@sense.org.uk - plus you can also have a look at the Sense website at www.sense.org.uk.

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