Incredible hug-in-a-bag at our wellbeing day

Here at Incredible Kids HQ we were absolutely thrilled to host our recent fun day.  We gifted our incredible wellbeing bags to families with disabled children. Everyone here hopes you enjoyed an amazing day, full of love, laughter, and lots of bubbles!

Playworkers give out wellbeing bags

We are so grateful to everyone at Quartet Community Foundation who made this day possible, and to all of the families who came out to join us. The playworkers loved to see the smiles on the faces of the families as they received their sensory friendly blankets, fluffy hot water bottles, and little treats. Lush donated a little gift to each family. Some of our bags had seed packs donated by Suttons Seeds, if you grow yours do send us a picture of what emerges! We hope that these bags will bring some much-needed comfort and joy to our incredible families. The bags were designed to help families facing a cost of living challenge as well as bring a smile to your faces.

Our fun day was filled with all sorts of exciting activities, including face painting, and even some bubbleology! Our bubbleologists Rainbow Ghecko returned to wow the crowds with their incredible bubble-making skills. They created giant bubbles that floated high up into the sky. Families enjoyed homemade cakes from Incredible Baker Alice as well as relaxing herbal teas and cookies.

“The best bubbles and face painting”

For families like Jo whose son has additional needs, the well-being bags have been a great source of comfort. ” Oh my goodness, we had such a lovely day! “ said Jo. ”The best bubbles and face painting ever and well-being bags at the end. My son loved the blanket and the microwavable fluffy dog”

Wellbeing bags

Founder of the charity Jennie Prewett said “We hope these bags bring a little bit of joy to our families. The days may be warming up as spring arrives but the sensory-friendly blankets in the packs will bring comfort all year round. We designed them to be like a giant hug inside a bag!”

Overall, it was an incredibly successful day, and we feel so grateful to have been able to bring a little bit of happiness into the lives of our Incredible families. We will have a second wellbeing day soon for those who couldnt make it to this one. Thank you to everyone who helped make this day possible. From our volunteers to our supporters, and of course to the families who came out to join us. See you all again soon!

 

Child receiving wellbeing bag

The hidden fight against the cost-of-living crisis for disabled children

A single tin of Heinz Beans now costs £1.40 at Tesco. To many Incredible Kids members who have a young person with additional needs, the recognisable, larger brands are important. Swapping to a supermarket’s own brand simply isn’t an option.

Two women chatting on a sofa with cups of tea

Jennie Prewett (right) chatting with a parent at a play session

We spoke to Incredible Kids Founder and mum of five, Jennie Prewett, about how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted disabled children.

“Right now, the families we help, can’t turn the heating off, can’t save on petrol and can’t swap to cheaper brands of food without causing harm or distress to vulnerable children,” says Jennie.

We ran a survey with our members to find out how the cost-of-living crisis affected them on a daily basis. Incredible Kids parent Michelle told us “I have a disabled child with health issues who cannot regulate their temperature. My electricity costs £450 per month so we have all been eating less.”

We asked our Service Manager Jeanna how the cost-of-living crisis was affecting families. She told us,  “It really concerns me that I know many families are struggling. But there’s a big void of communication filled with secrecy and shame. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s only myself and a group of select others feeling the hard mean pinch of the cost of living.

Woman with her hand on her hip in a Dr Seuss cat costume in front of balloons

Service Manager Jeanna dressed up for the Dr.Seuss-themed Incredible Kids Christmas party

“Living standards and poverty can have a serious impact on a child’s mental health,” says Jeanna. “If they cannot take part in the activities that other children do, then they feel isolated and different. This is the basis of Incredible Kids’ drive as a charity. Our service doesn’t just offer an inclusive, safe space, it offers new experiences to disabled young people. At Incredible Kids, every child can be part of the same community and have memories of childhood to remember. We want every family to feel that each week has a little bit of sparkle in it,” says Jeanna.

Jennie adds, “Inflation is having a devastating impact on charities. People have less disposable income and are not in a position to donate, even if they want to. Every last penny is spent on energy bills and rising mortgage payments. The government’s cost-of-living payments are welcome, but they fall woefully short of what’s needed for carers managing on the very tightest budgets.

“Things are also very tight here at Incredible Kids too, both in relation to our funding and amongst our staff and volunteers,” says Jennie. “Charities are under unprecedented pressure, and we are arguably only at the beginning of what the Bank of England predicts could be the longest recession on record. Charities are in the most precarious position I can remember.” Women with a backpack looking distressed in a supermarket aisle

Incredible Kids has been supporting families with disabled children with free meals and activities. We hope to help combat the stress caused by the many challenges affecting people right now. At a selection of our play sessions, we are currently trialling the offer of free tickets for those who cannot afford to pay the low entry price of £4 per family.

In March, thanks to grants from Bristol City Council and The National Grid we are giving out wellbeing packs and will include sensory-friendly blankets and treats for the whole family. It’s only a small gesture, and we can’t afford to add in any Heinz beans, but we hope it will put a smile on our members’ faces.

This blog featured in the Bristol Post.

10 years of Incredible Kids: 2022 round-up

One step closer to spring! We spent January hunkering down and reflecting on the past year. 2022 was extra special for Incredible Kids as it was our 10th birthday and we were given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Pretty good birthday present, right?

We’re chuffed with our achievements but we couldn’t have supported so many families without you – our Incredible community. Whether you donated money, cake, or your time, we are so incredibly grateful.

Let’s start with the most important bit – our members. We’re over the moon to have welcomed 910 new parents and carers into our community in 2022 alone. These are families who have signed up to attend one of our inclusive play sessions – that’s a 37% increase in the amount of families who Incredible Kids support in some way. If one of the 910 is you – welcome!

Incredible Kids members have risen by 37% in 2022

What did we offer in 2022?

As we did throughout the global pandemic, in 2022 we tried to offer as much support and fun as we could. In fact, we ran at least 312 sessions, totally 468 hours!

Incredible Saturdays

Every single Saturday in 2022 we offered 4 play sessions, including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. We regularly made Saturdays extra special by booking professionals in play, such as Same Same but Different, Whoopie! Face painting, Lego parties from Gincandescence, herbal tea bath bag-making with The Bee Lady, and epic bubble displays from Rainbow Gecko Entertainment.

Summer holiday support in pop-up venue

In summer, we provided extra midweek support in Patchway Children’s Centre on top of our usual Friday and Saturday play sessions at The Vench in Lockleaze. We ran 48 additional 90 minute sessions to provide extra support to families.

Incredible Girls

We want to help girls with additional needs forge friendships. On the first Saturday of the month, our play sessions were dedicated to girls with additional needs aged 0-25 and their families. Our passionate playworkers supported girls in whatever they fancied doing – crafts, climbing, sensory room, trampoline, sandpit or simply a natter over tea and biscuits.

PDA Support Sessions

On the last Saturday of every month, our afternoon play session were dedicated to young people with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) symptoms and their families. PDA is a form of anxiety-driven autism and this session offers families a chance to connect with families who have similar experiences.

One big Friday

Towards the end of 2022 we chose to combine our Incredible Teens session and our after-school play session on a Friday into one big session. We wanted our kids to be able to hang out for longer at the end of the week and be able travel to Lockleaze after school and arrive in time for our hot meal. We rotate our Friday menu between pizza, pasta, hot dogs and toasties – all accompanied by our milkshake bar.

SEND advocacy

Alice from SEND Advocacy Limited joined us regularly to answer your SEND-related questions. Alice practiced as a Barrister specialising in civil litigation for almost a decade before focusing on SEND law and practice. She successfully advocated for her eldest son (who is autistic and has ADHD), securing a place at an independent specialist provision.

Incredible Kids families were able to book Alice for a free 15-minute one-to-one chat while their child had fun with our playworkers.

Our impact

We ran a survey to find out how we’ve helped families and the below stats gave us the warm fuzzies!

• 100% of families told us their children had tried new things at Incredible Kids
• 96% of families felt less isolated as a result of Incredible Kids
• 98% of families said their child had fun at Incredible Kids
• 98% of families said our playworkers helped their child to have fun
• 91% of families said their child felt more confident because of Incredible Kids
• 96% of families said their children were happier because of Incredible Kids
• 73% of families said Incredible Kids helped them access other support
• 100% of families said Incredible Kids helped them to get out of the house
• 91% of families said Incredible Kids had helped them to cope
• 98% of families look forward to coming back to Incredible Kids
• 98% of families would recommend Incredible Kids

Our 2022 donations (drumroll please…)

Three 2022 donation figures

A HUMUNGOUS THANK YOU to all our donators and their donations. Below is a list of incredibly generous organisations who accepted our grant requests and made the running of multiple weekly play sessions possible.

With these donations, we’ve been able to pay passionate playworkers who dedicate their Friday evenings and Saturdays to supporting families to relax and have fun in a safe and inclusive environment.

Donations enabled us to pay for the use of The Vench Adventure Playground’s indoor and outdoor space, provide hot meals at our Fridays sessions and create welcome packs jam-packed with SEND-related tips and advice and book brilliant professional entertainers.

List of organisation who donated to Incredible Kids

Toys from Axis Foundation and WSP

On top of this huge donation figure, Axis Foundation gave us £1,000 for toys. So far, we’ve have bought dolls heads for our children to enjoy practising hairdressing and cosmetics. WSP donated funds for us to buy a fantastic train set and the children create a miniature world with this regularly.  With donations we purchased specialist sensory equipment, such as a wheelchair-adapted tuff tray. Our playworkers created astounding scenes for our young people to get stick into.

The incredible figures above also don’t include physical donations of toys and craft supplies we received at our sessions or through our Amazon Wish List (receiving a 2-month supply of glue sticks from an anonymous giver was a highlight of 2022!).

10 years of cake-fuelled community

Incredible Kids first started when our founder, Jennie, and 400 families in Bristol banded together after losing access to a local disability centre. A decade later, we’re more certain than ever of the power of a cuppa and cake to strengthen community. In 2022 we called out for local bakers to donate cupcakes to fuel our play sessions and we were delighted with the response.

Number of Incredible Kids bakers has risen by 58% in 2022

We’re a social bunch!

Throughout the weeks in 2022 we shared activities our members can look forward to, from slime swamp trays to silent discos. We also shared links to SEND advice sources and celebrated our families’ successes.

We’re thrilled to have welcomed 2,812 new followers from all around in the world across our social media platforms in 2022. We have an active Incredible Kids Facebook Group where our community shares useful events and information. Follow us Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and join our Facebook Group!

Incredible Kids' number of social media followers has risen by 38% in 2022

Incredible Christmas

We couldn’t round off such a year without a fuss for our families. Thank you to Magic Little Grants, John James Bristol Foundation and Firehaus for their donations that enabled us to give families a special Christmas.Incredible Kids playworkers and entertainers in Christmas-themed outfits

Our held a Dr. Seuss-themed Christmas party included handmade decorations from playworkers, delicious treats donated by Greggs and our Incredible Bakers, toy trains for WSP and festive face painting from Whoopie!!

Santa and his helper visited and we transformed our sensory room into a grotto. We are incredibly grateful to Hartfield Financial Planning for buying, wrapping and donating 80 sensory toys and selection boxes for Santa to give our young people with additional needs.

Our playworkers Danyella and James represented our charity at the New Siblands 2022 Yule Fayre this year to help spread the word about our support service. Do get in touch if you’d like us to present the benefits of Incredible Kids at your organisation.

Your feedback

“It was very welcoming and my daughter was able to explore and relax in a safe and exciting environment.  My daughter’s confidence has increased a lot. She is also much more relaxed about her autism and speaks very positively about herself. I found it particularly helpful last year when she was struggling at school and I was able to talk to the staff about how we could help her.” Incredible Girls parent

“It has been a godsend to us during the school holidays my son is very active and on the go constantly and coming here has been fantastic for him and his younger sibling. It’s been great and all the workers have been lovely it’s nice going to a place where you’re not judged.” — Lauren Wiltshire, Incredible Under 8s parent

“I like talking with the playworkers because they listen to me and make me feel more positive. My mum felt relief when first coming to Incredible Kids as she got to talk with other parents and felt less lonely. Incredible Kids enables me to play with other autistic teenagers. I feel supported by an amazing community and I don’t know what I’d do without the sessions each week – they’re fun and give me comfort.” —  Annie, Incredible Kid

Coming up in 2023

“Next year looks set to be an exciting year for Incredible Kids,” says Jennie, Founder of Incredible Kids. “We hope to be able to offer even more support to our members through our varied programme of events.”

In 2023, we’re dedicating time towards finding a permanent home for our play sessions. Find out more and help us raise funds here.

Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on our services.

Why not become a member for free and browse our available sessions now?

We wish you an Incredible 2023!

Help fundraise to give Incredible Kids a permanent home

Give Bristol's Incredible Kids a home

Incredible Kids is a lifeline for 2,000 Bristolians – children with disabilities and their whole families.

Make a donation here

For 10 years we’ve been running inclusive play sessions, supporting one another, and helping families through the challenges they face. Our specialist play workers help every child to develop and express themselves through play. Our community embraces families who felt isolated before. 

There’s no other provision like this in Bristol running year-round play sessions and support for the whole family.

But we still don’t have our own space.

Incredible Kids has rented several different premises over the years, and it’s far from ideal.

We need somewhere to store the bulky specialist equipment that the children use. We need a permanent base that gives the children stability – changing locations is difficult and upsetting for some of them. Bristol’s incredible kids deserve their own special place to play and to belong.

Could you be incredible too?

We’re currently raising the funds to buy a permanent play space.

Thanks to an amazing gift we now have half the funds – we need £250,000 more to make it happen.

This is your chance to be incredible. You can make a donation today and help us find a dedicated incredible home. 

Thank you!

Make a donation here

Have an Incredible half term!

We hope you’re keeping cosy and enjoying conker season. Half term is inching closer and we’re thrilled to have a jam-packed play schedule to give you well-deserved respite, community support and a chance to let loose in a safe space at The Vench, Bristol.

From gigantic bubbles to Lego cities, we’ve got plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy quality time your with kids (or to let our Incredible Playworkers do their thing while you enjoy a cuppa!)

We’re incredibly grateful to Quartet Community Foundation who are providing a free packed lunch for every child in our half term Saturday 11.45am-1.15pm sessions!

We can’t wait to see you. Browse and book all your play sessions here.

See our half term flyer below.