Inspiring multisensory connections

Authored by Sarah Bell

Sensing Nature will be working with several organisations to help inform both our research and how we put our findings into practice.
One of those that we’re lucky to be working closely with is the Sensory Trust; a charity and leading authority on sensory design.
The Sensory Trust facilitates inclusive access to nature and the outdoors to help improve the wellbeing of people living with disability, as well as their family and carers.
Jane Stoneham, Director at the Sensory Trust, is a key advisor to the Sensing Nature project and will be helping us to produce a range of inclusive design guidance and continuing professional development materials for planners, landscape architects and others charged with promoting more inclusive nature-based experiences.
Recent work by the Sensory Trust has focused on helping children and adults with physical, learning and sensory disabilities, to develop meaningful connections with nature.
Current activities include the ‘Creative Spaces’ project, using the outdoors to bring creativity and conversation into the lives of people living with dementia, and the ‘Sensory Nature Adventures and Play’ project, helping children with disabilities to build confidence and improve communication and social skills in their quest to explore the outdoor world.
My Nature is a new collaboration with The European Centre for Environment & Human Health and Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care - South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC) with a training toolkit being developed to enhance the quality of life for older people living in residential and nursing care.
Recent inclusive design and access work includes developing new policies and guidance for the Welsh Government; undertaking reviews, advice and design collaborations with venues like the Eden Project, Heligan Gardens and advising on improving access to heritage with sites like the Luxulyan Valley World Heritage Site and Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum in Cornwall, the Brunel Museum in London and Barrowhill Roundhouse Museum in Derbyshire.
The Sensory Trust has produced a wealth of useful online resources to support people to connect to nature by engaging all the senses. These range from access and design guidance, tools and factsheets, to more creative activities such as painting by nature, myths and legends, sound activities and sound maps, nature palettes and garden time machines.  
They have also designed a series of low cost sensory nature resources, including a ‘Mindfulness for Dementia’ activity kit, a ‘Go Find It’ sensory card game, and a ‘Sensory Trail Marker Kit’ to facilitate the creation of sensory trails around gardens, woodlands, school grounds and other nature places.
We’re looking forward to working with the Sensory Trust to see how we can incorporate these kinds of resources into our own work and outputs.
All updates on these activities will be posted on these news pages as they progress during the project so do keep checking back to find out more.