Sensory Room | First Anniversary Celebrated
The Hornets celebrated the first anniversary of the Sensory Room opening at Vicarage Road at the weekend.
As a club with a proud family tradition, the pioneering spirit of the family enclosure and terrace has been re-created through the December 2016 opening of the room, which has had a huge impact on children who struggle to cope with large crowds and noise levels at the stadium and their families.
The room features a comfortably furnished viewing area, with an excellent view of the action and a state-of-the-art calming area with several sensory features.
Equipment funded by the Premier League Charitable Fund in association with the Lord’s Taverners, The Shippey Campaign and BT Sport was installed when the room opened, with additional features being added during the year, including a communication board, beanbags and more comfortable seating for the parents.
The room is managed on matchdays by Sara Lavender and Collette Sturgess, both season ticket holders before joining the club’s matchday staff, who have a background in working with children on the autism spectrum.
So far, more than 40 families have attended a match, most of whom were visiting Vicarage Road for the first time and some of whom have now transitioned into general areas of the stadium.
"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," said Sara.
"The families really value having a space where their children can enjoy the game, which they’d have been previously unable to do. The icing on the cake is knowing that we have helped families who had never been to a match become regulars, with the barriers to their attendance having been broken down by the time they’ve spent in the room."
As well as having a positive impact locally, the room has also received plenty of national attention and several clubs have visited since its opening to make notes and take pictures. Three further Premier League clubs have since opened rooms and the club recently hosted a working group from the organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as they look to include sensory facilities at the stadia being developed for the tournament.
Demand for places in the Sensory Room is very high, but there are spaces available for some games in the New Year. Fans who are interested in trying the room should contact Dave Messenger, the club’s Supporter Liaison Officer, in the first instance by emailing email@example.com.
Places will be subject to availability and a letter from a doctor/consultant or other healthcare professional may be required when booking. Parents will also have the option to visit the room before matchday, if they wish to check its suitability.
For a closer look at the Sensory Room, please click HERE for an online guided tour.