SensationALL evolved in response to the closure of the Raeden Centre (a facility for children with complex needs in Aberdeen) in the summer of 2011, which left a gap in local service provision.
Parent, Susan Kay and occupational therapist, Suz Strachan came together with the vision to give families living with multiple support needs (MSN) and disabilities a place to belong, where they can feel empowered, safe and supported throughout their lives. A place where they can access specialist support and sensory facilities in a safe, friendly and tailored environment.
Due to the lack of existing provision in the North East of Scotland, they wanted to create a place for families to have the opportunity to enjoy leisure activities together. Initially operating as a voluntary service renting a room in the Lawsondale Sports Pavillion, they ran family play sessions. The response from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and demand for more frequent, structured support groups quickly grew, so they took the plunge and registered as a Scottish charity in 2012 headed up by Suz as Service Manager.
Soon the need for permanent premises was clear and we took the opportunity to apply for the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of the Old Schoolhouse in Westhill. This was the beginning of a long negotiation with the Council that was to secure our long-term home and prevent the Schoolhouse [one of Westhill’s few historic buildings] being taken out of community use.
In August 2016, our application was accepted and the 175 year lease, with an annual rent of £1, was finalised in May 2019. This achievement marks a significant milestone in the our history and we are grateful to all those who made it possible including Aberdeenshire Council, the community and our staff and trustees, particularly our then Chairman, Bob McCracken.
But this is only the beginning…we have big plans to transform the building into a state-of-the-art facility for MSN families and the local community. A truly inclusive facility for all abilities, and a home for our organisation for many years to come.
Susan Strachan, Bob McCracken and Susan Kay, May 2019 [image copyright SensationALL]