Themed sensory areas will be created in all of Merton’s libraries for all children, with additional services being provided for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children.
Each of Merton Council’s seven award winning libraries will have its own theme, based on popular themes such as mystical forests, space and water. Specialist books and an activity programme of events across the borough will be offered for all children and with a particular focus on SEND children and their families.
The project is being funded by a £94,826 Arts Council England grant, which the council successfully bid for.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding to create a sensory area in each library for all children to enjoy and benefit from, but specifically children with special educational needs or disabilities. This will be complemented by specialist books and resources as well as a dedicated arts and literature activity programme.
“This important project also entails the wider community and our library staff and volunteers will be working with our partners and schools to break down barriers and dispel misconceptions of special educational needs and disabilities, reduce isolation and open new doors of opportunity for children and their families. This innovative project is the first of its kind in the UK.”
Support will also be offered by the library service to the parents and carers of children with SEND, including social events and family activities to reduce isolation along with family learning courses provided by Merton’s adult learning providers.
Library staff and volunteers will receive training in awareness of children with SEND and how to run activities for them.
The school’s library membership scheme will also be expanded to include all special schools with regular class visits set up.