Raising a child with a brain injury can be very challenging and families will want to get out and enjoy life together. However, some places cater for specialist needs more effectively than others. That’s why we asked families in the know to pick out some of their favorite places around the country to help everyone get out and enjoy life.  

So here is our top list, recommended by people who truly understand.

Amy recommends the Alan Shearer Centre
Where: Newcastle upon Tyne

The Alan Shearer Centre describes itself as a highly specialist, respite, residential and social facility for people with complex disabilities and acute sensory impairments. The activity centre is open daily to children and adults, offering a wide range of therapeutic and sensory activities.

Lorna recommends Swings & Smiles at the Phoenix Centre
Where: Newbury

Swings & Smiles provides a fantastic place to play for children with special needs and their siblings. The centre provides soft play; a sensory room; and an art room where children can paint and draw.

Sarah Jane recommends Chessington World of Adventures
Where: Chessington 

Although the theme park is closed at winter, there is still lots going on including their sea life centre and zoo. Chessington also has changing facilities that include an adjustable changing bench, shower, toilet and hoist.

…and Mad Play
Where: Dartford

Mad Play describes itself as the biggest and most fun Indoor Children’s Activity Centre in the Dartford area. Sarah Jane’s little boy enjoys all the colours at the Centre and that everything is safe and soft.


Photo: Colchester Zoo

…and Colchester Zoo
Where: Essex

With over 260 species to see, set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, there is a lot to be discovered at Colchester Zoo. The zoo has a planned pushchair and wheelchair friendly route avoiding the steepest of hills. The changing facility includes an adjustable bench and ceiling hoist, although a sling is not provided.


reindeer withy king

Photo: Colchester Zoo

Sarah recommends Gulliver’s World
Where: Warrington

With over 80 rides, attractions and shows, Gulliver’s World is specially designed for families with children aged between 2 and 13 years of age. Gulliver’s World has an impressive accessibility guide with information on dining areas; toilet facilities and whether the rides require upper or lower body control. For guests who struggle with queuing, ride passes are available and a special wet chair can be requested for use in the splash zone. Do check their opening times however, as they run a slightly reduced schedule in winter.

…and The Space Centre
Where: Preston 

The Space Centre boasts the largest multi-sensory environment in the United Kingdom. The Space Centre has the latest lighting, sound and projection equipment which are controlled by iPads to give maximum flexibility for anyone with any special needs of any age. The centre has excellent changing facilities including a hoist.

…and Withy Grove Park
in Preston

Withy Grove Park has an enormous playground designed to cater for all ages across three different zones. There is a large sand area for toddlers upwards which has lots of slides, climbing and sand buckets. There are bridges to climb, tunnel slides and towers. Access to the park is free and the park has been praised for being accessibility to all. The wheelchair friendly roundabouts are a particular favourite.

Tracey recommends The Fun Factory
Where: Rochford, Essex

The Fun Factory provides 20,000 square feet of pure fun, providing a clean, safe and exciting environment for children aged 0-13 years. It has a baby and toddler soft play area; junior play area; and a sensory room to explore and stimulate the senses.