At Haven House we recognise the importance of play and its significance for children’s happiness, wellbeing and inclusion. 

Sue was a special needs teacher for 35 years before she took early retirement in 2020. Many of the children she supported had complex healthcare needs and she specialised in sensory play. After retiring, Sue was looking for something that would allow her to still be involved with children and that’s when she thought of Haven House – her local children’s hospice

Sue now dedicates her Friday afternoons to volunteering at Haven House. You will find Sue in our playroom, playing and singing with children in our care. 

"My role involves finding out what each child likes and making play accessible to all. It’s about having fun together and enabling children to make choices. Sensory play is totally responsive and flexible. By tuning in to what a child loves I can empower them. There is always a way to communicate and engage with children, it's about tuning into the right station," says Sue. 

Each week she brings a 'bag of goodies' with her filled with wonderful sensory equipment and sound making toys. From a tin, which makes a great noise. Beads, which require little movement, but the children love them. A foil blanket, which makes a crunching noise. A plastic bottle with fairy lights inside. Water spray, an umbrella, and a fan. 

Sue continued: "I worked with a young man who was fascinated with the water spray and the umbrella. He kept asking for more and then he wanted to squirt the water. It was wonderful seeing him engage in this way."

"There are always stand out and magical moments at Haven House. When you get a response from a child – the smiles or laughter. Parents of life-limited and life-threatened children are used to hearing about what their child cannot do. My focus is on what a child can do. It’s about unlocking their world and finding experiences that give them as much as control as possible and the opportunity to just be children."