The room was launched in a partnership between Oxford United in the Community and Jigsaw, an Oxford based parent carer support group, thanks to financial support from the club’s Supporter’s Trust Oxvox.
Located in the South Stand Upper at Oxford United home games, the room has been designed to create a safe and stress-free space for people with autism and other sensory needs. Crowds and loud noises can be challenging for some and the room provides a calm space via light projectors, soft play items, sensory mats and special seating.
Paul Peros, Cybele Homes founder and Oxvox Vice Chair and his business partner Greg James felt moved to support the sensory room after visiting its recent launch day. The donation will help sustain the sensory room and additionally help the Jigsaw team maintain and develop programmes in the wider community.
Mr Peros said: “The work the volunteers do is amazing. Seeing children come into the room, clearly feeling nervous and overwhelmed, and then seeing the team work with them was brilliant. The children relaxed so quickly and were happy and smiling in no time. It’s really inspiring.”
Kate Longworth, CEO of Oxford United in the Community, said: “We’re so grateful to Cybele Homes for supporting this fantastic project that is so close to our hearts as it helps families bring their children to Oxford United matches and helps them flourish.”
Jigsaw volunteer Hayley Nash said: “This donation will allow us to extend some of the activities we offer to Jigsaw’s parents and children. We find they really enjoy sensory hands-on things like cake decorating, and this will enable us to add that to our sessions more often.”
Sophia Allsop said: “It doesn’t cost much to keep our sessions running, but it builds up over time. We need to make sure that the materials we use with children on the SEN spectrum are appropriate and properly vetted. Equally, it’s great for us to be able to offer coffee and a biscuit to a parent or carer who’s struggling to cope and feeling lonely.”
Cybele Homes has been renovating and building beautiful homes in Oxfordshire for more than a decade.
Mr James said: “We only create homes we are completely proud of and that we would be happy to live in ourselves. We work with integrity and the environment in mind. We want to leave a better world for the next generation, and so it feels completely natural for us to support local activities with the same ethos. We’re really happy to help this amazing cause.”
Any supporter who feels they would benefit from the space is welcome to use it before or during the game and should notify a steward or email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.