Market Place Centre has opened a special centre just for families to take a break in a calming environment.

The retail and leisure centre has teamed up with Breaking Barriers North West to open a sensory room today. (Tuesday)

The room is designed to provided a environment to promote calm and it is hoped that the area will provide a safe space for families who sometimes, for whatever reason, struggling with going out to shop.

The idea is to make Bolton town centre more inclusive and accessible for those who find the world to be a confusing and overwhelming place.

The room's design and amenities aim to create a welcoming and understanding environment, where individuals with sensory sensitivities can find comfort and support while visiting The Market Place.

Within the sensory room there is a range of areas to enjoy including bright lights, a climbing frame, a learning area, hopscotch, a small trampoline and more.

There is also snacks and drinks on offer.

The Bolton News: The sensory room - picture by Henry LisowskiThe sensory room - picture by Henry Lisowski (Image: Henry Lisowski)

The room will be staffed by fully qualified, fully experienced people.

Rachel Townsend, centre manager at The Market Place said the centre wanted to be able to offer a facility that is lacking across the borough.

She said: “The inspiration behind opening the sensory room came from me going out and seeing what other shopping centres had and I felt there was a gap in our centre and with the skill set that Breaking Barriers had and the contacts that they had, we have just worked really well as a collaboration to bring this to the centre and to the community.”

Gill Davidson, guest services Manager at The Market Place, said: “Within the community and within the town centre there is nothing like this anywhere else so it brings a safe space so families know they can come here and feel safe in the environment.”

Steph Sherratt, project manager at Breaking Barriers said: “There was a gap that was identified and this is a space that offers support for specific sensory needs, so they might be seekers or they might be avoiders, to be able to reorder their world they might need to be able to crawl, swing or slide and that is for all ages.

“So, when the opportunity came up that is why we decided to do it; there are some groups who we would like to support in this setting.”

The Bolton News: The sensory roomThe sensory room (Image: NQ)

Laken Reid, senior manager at the Sensory Room, working for Breaking Barriers North West, said: “We are hoping that not only will it enable some families to come into the shopping centre which at the moment is not something they can do at all, we do work with children that have profound and multiple complex needs and they don’t often get the opportunity to go outside never mind coming to a shopping centre, so we want to encourage that.

“This is mainly for children who have sensory integration difficulties not just difficulties either, it’s not a difficulty to seek a certain sense but every piece of equipment we have in here has been thought about in terms of what that will fulfil for each child.

“It is certainly not a soft play area, there is a wonderful soft play are downstairs at Amazonia, this is something different for those who have additional needs.

“During the summer holidays, we are going to have it open to some closed groups a little bit of public access as well and then once the summer holidays are over it will be scheduled so we will have some groups on in the morning, times when it can be hired out to other local community groups and then there is going to be some free time but again that time is going to be for those who need it.

“It is all about bringing the community together and integrating disabled people into the town a bit more.”

The Sensory Room will be open between 10am and 3pm Monday to Saturday through school holidays and during term time under-fives will have an allocated time of 10am to 12pm, groups 12pm to 2pm, close at 2pm and then re-open 4pm to 6pm for walk-ins.

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