The Engine Shed


Your story

The Engine Shed is a special interest group for children and young people with autism.

Group introduction

The club was set up in 2010 and enables young people on the autistic spectrum with an interest in trains to come together with their peers to observe, play, talk and enjoy their hobby in a welcoming, safe and relaxing environment. The group also provides a rare occasion where parents have a chance to relax, and talk in a supportive and safe atmosphere. The group meets monthly at a Children's Centre in Reading. We also have occasional trips out to local railway attractions, including Lord McAlpine’s Estate, Didcot Railway Centre, Santa Train Trips etc.

The club is run entirely by volunteers. Volunteer railway enthusiasts bring electric layouts to our sessions and there are lots of hands-on train activities. For many families it is one of the few places that they attend where their children are safely absorbed in an activity and where they have time to talk with others in a similar position. Some families have been coming since we set the group up in 2010 and a genuine community of support has been created.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We would use the grant to purchase train-related resources. Additional play resources will ensure that the children and young people at the Reading group are kept stimulated at the sessions & that the group continues to be relevant for all ages/abilities.

Keeping the group running will:

- ensure opportunities for families to share & learn new strategies for promoting the learning & social skills of their children, using their love of trains as an entry point;

- create a lively, friendly & supportive community in which all children, siblings, parents & their family members can feel comfortable & relaxed.

We have around thirty children/young people attend each session; around half have learning disabilities and around 10% are fostered, adopted, or being cared for by people other than their birth parents. Statistically autism is around 10 x higher in this latter group.

"'The Engine Shed provides a safe and stimulating place for autistic children and their families. Families regularly tell us that the group is the only activity that their child is interested in attending, and where he can genuinely be himself'.
Sarah Snow, Trustee"

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