Funding support for Xcel Youth Trust new Sensory Room
Xcel Youth Trust was awarded £18,800 from the Crossdykes Community Benefit Fund to create a Sensory Room within their Youth Centre in Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway.
Crossdykes Community Benefit Fund supports a wide range of charitable activities providing benefit to the five community council areas of Langholm Ewes & Westerkirk, Lockerbie and District, Middlebie & Waterbeck, Eskdalemuir, and North Milk.
The Xcel Youth Trust is a registered charity, based in Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway. They work with 300-400 young people, aged 8 -24, across the community of Eskdale. Their work is based on three core themes - Activity, Employability and Leadership. These underpin all projects and services. These include holiday programmes, youth club, youth cafe, drop-in nights and collaborative projects with local schools.
Xcel’s Youth Information Centre offers safe internet access, social interaction, support and advice as well as information on a wide range of issues and services.
Xcel started as a youth project run by Langholm Community Centre in 2005. They have grown in scale and reputation since then, and became an independent charity in 2012.
Here, Xcel Youth Trust describe their journey to create the Sensory Room.
"The room is now up and running and being used regularly. It certainly didn't go as smoothly as planned with the actual room not being installed until June 2023, which was due to a delay in the match funding as well as further building work that we hadn't anticipated. We are delighted with the room, though, and it was installed exactly as planned with all of the equipment and the layout that we wanted.
"The building work included widening the doorway to create disabled access to the room. This was really important and it made sense to do it at the start of the project. We also replaced the floor once the room had been installed so the interactive projector could project straight on to the floor.
"We hadn't anticipated how much staff resource we would have to put into the project at the start, which meant during the summer holidays we didn't have the capacity to deliver much activity within the room and we still had bits and pieces of work to do in the room.
"Due to the delays, we didn't actually get the room up and running properly until October but it was definitely worth the wait. Before that, we had had a few one off bookings and plenty of people coming to have a look at the room. We have a counsellor based in our youth centre and she was able to use the room for some of her clients.
"We started with an Open Day on the 18th October and we had over 50 people attend on the day. This led to a number of bookings and two separate visits from Mother and Toddler groups with a third visit planned for February. The feedback has been amazing so far and we are continuing to build on the visits. Word of mouth is a huge thing and this had led to a number of people engaging with us that hadn't heard about the project before.
"We have also held initial discussions with Dumfries & Galloway Education and Social Work about using the room on a regular basis and we will progress these conversations over the next few months.
"We feel like this is just the start of a very exciting project. It is a room that can be used by all ages. We also have the interactive projector which is mobile, so the plan is to take it to places like Langholm Playcare, which is the local child care facility as well as the Day Centre which provides opportunities and activities for older people.
"Around 160 individuals have benefited from the Sensory Room so far."
"One of the biggest impacts we hoped to make with this project was for people to understand that things can happen in small communities. We believe there is a bit of a glass ceiling amongst our young people about what can be achieved. A project like this shows that Langholm can have state art of the facilities and that things can happen with a bit of hard work and determination. This is a message we will be continuing to give to our young people and the sensory room is a very good example of what can be achieved.
"Focusing on the climate emergency, we are looking at completing an energy audit for our youth centre. We will then look at our options with regards to clean energy, solar panels are a realistic option for us and we are keen to explore the possibility.
"We are lucky to have a lot of very supportive people in Langholm which meant we could deal with a lot of the problems very quickly. A lot of the trades we use know each other so a lot of the issues were sorted out between them and we even managed to secure a plasterer at 12 hours notice.
Looking to the future
"The project will definitely continue, and we see this as a facility that will become embedded in the community and last a very long time. We are planning to train and recruit staff and run dedicated sensory sessions. There have also been requests for sensory birthday parties so there is a lot of potential to grow the usage and make a huge impact in the community.
"The lasting changes could be huge. People and families with additional support needs can often feel unsupported and frustrated by the lack of services and support. Just having the sensory room in the community might be enough to help a family take that pressure a few times a week and with the work we plan to do in the future you never know where that support might lead.
"With everything else we have going on at the youth centre some of those young people will be able to integrate into other activities and groups. The support from the community has been overwhelming and from an organisation point of view it puts us in a very strong position when it comes to asking for future funding.
"We are committed to making the sensory room a huge part of the Xcel Project and have already committed money to the maintenance of the equipment and subsidising the cost of using the room as much as we can.
"There have been some very humbling moments already. Just seeing how the young people react to the room and are fascinated by what is going on is enough for us to know that this is a hugely worthwhile project and a great use of funding.
"As mentioned before, this is only the start of the project for us and we expect to have a lot of amazing moments along the way. What the project has done is help the young people engage with Xcel at a very early age. Young people usually engage with us from 8 years old and could potentially be involved with the project up to the age of 25."
The Crossdykes funding with the support of Foundation Scotland has been vital to our Sensory Room project and it just wouldn't have been possible without it. This will be a long lasting community facility in the heart of Langholm which provides sensory opportunities to Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and Cumbria.