The Sensory Trust is a leading authority on inclusive and sensory design. We use nature and the outdoors to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with disability and health issues, their families and carers. We work throughout the UK, and share our approaches internationally with a wide network of organisations and individuals.

Our aim is to make the outdoors accessible and enjoyable for all people, regardless of age, ability or social circumstance. Our work benefits young and older people, and people living with ill health or disabilities, together with their families and carers.

For over 25 years we've been cultivating an organisation that bridges disciplines, responds quickly to emerging trends, and remains focused on action. We're proud to be custodians of such a positive and creative organisation.

Our work spans health and care environments, parks, schools, natural heritage and visitor destinations, and we are connected with like-minded organisations across the world. We work with the health, care and education sectors and with communities to change the way that places are designed and to bring nature-based experiences into the lives of people who need them most.

Key themes this year are using nature and the outdoors to:

  • Support people living with dementia, their families and carers, to maintain healthy and independent living.
  • Re-engage marginalised people with their local heritage and communities.
  • Support the development, wellbeing and learning of children with disabilities.

A range of sensory experiences outdoors

Recent achievements

Our work has been developing meaningful connections with nature for children and adults with physical, learning and sensory disabilities, people living with dementia, those living in isolation or loneliness as well as their carers and family members.

Our sensory nature resources are being widely adopted by the care and education sectors, and enthusiastically welcomed by people living with dementia, children with disabilities, and their families and friends. Our latest resource is a Sensory Trails Marker kit, a low-cost technique helping venues make their sites more engaging for a wider range of visitors.

Our focus on dementia is widening its benefits through community walks and nature-based activites, as part of our Creative Spaces project. We are now bringing art and nature together through our work with the renowned Leach Pottery, and extending the work to London by working with dementia settings in Bexley and Lewisham.

Our work with young people brings nature activities into the lives of children with disabilities and their families. This is the basis for our new 4-year Sensory Nature Adventures and Play (SNAP), supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities programme.

Our access reviews are helping the Eden Project, Heligan Gardens and the Royal Cornwall Museum make their sites more engaging for visitors with disabilities. Latest reviews are underway at the Luxulyan Valley World Heritage Site and the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum, improving access to heritage.

Research collaborations are growing with the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, and this continues to be a valuable opportunity to work together on evaluation and research.

How we work

Our dissemination work has doubled the number of individuals and professionals we provide free advice and support to through our online content.

Partnership and collaboration with other organisations remains central to our work. Our collaboration with the Eden Project has enabled people of all ages and abilities to visit this extraordinary place, making it a leading example of an accessible visitor destination in the UK. We have developed guidance for the leading UK environmental bodies, including Natural England, English Heritage and National Trust and worked with a variety of organisations such as Grimshaw Architects, UK, and Dirt Works, USA. Exciting new collaborations are emerging with other organisations such as Dementia Adventure and Natural Resources Wales.

Our team includes designers, writers, trainers, resource developers, funding specialists, landscapers and community connectors.

Sensory Trust team

"Sensory Trust is a really positive organisation to work in partnership with. I appreciate their “can do” attitude and look forward to continuing to work alongside them in developing opportunities for people living with dementia."

"I haven’t looked back, it’s absolutely brilliant. I’ve met so many friends, I’m not half as lonely as I was" (from a recent dementia walk)

"It was a great success, the children were really engaged!" (a special needs teacher using our nature resources)