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Swings & Smiles

Swings & Smiles offers play sessions for children with special needs and their whole family at our centre in Thatcham. We have specialist play resources to enable children with a wide range of disabilities to play with siblings and other family members in a secure and safe environment. Families are welcome from any towns or counties. We currently run a session once a month in Abingdon.

We provide many opportunities for play, cooking, art, sport and much more. We have a personal care room and space to eat if you want to bring a picnic with you. Our garden is totally secure and the building is on one level. There is also a totally separate and fully equipped area for siblings to be able to enjoy some time for themselves.

Families have to register to use Swings & Smiles and they will then be given a membership for relevant sessions. We do accept children who are both diagnosed or on the pathway for a diagnosis. The registration form can be found on our website or through contacting

Swings & Smiles is a nut free centre.

Our facilities:


  • Sensory room – with features like our UV dark room, therapy ballpool and touch wall.
  • Activity room
  • Imagination zone – full of toys to play with!
  • We have ceiling hoists in our sensory room and a mobile hoist
  • An accessible personal care room with a changing bed and hoist


  • Open space for play
  • Sensory garden, including vegetable garden and mud kitchen
  • Fully accessible swings – including wheelchair swing
  • In-ground trampoline
  • Mini golf
  • Large slide and climbing frame
  • Interactive sensory area

All these facilities contribute to a range of experiences which can be stimulating or restful as required. They create an environment in which those with special needs and their families can be themselves and grow together.

Our sessions: 

Family Play

We are open on Fridays, weekends and during school holidays to deliver sessions for the whole family. At these sessions we offer a variety of activities depending on the children booked in. These sessions are £5 per family.

After School Club

We run After School Club sessions on a Monday 3.30 – 5.30pm, Tuesday 3.30 – 6pm and Wednesday 3.30 – 5.30pm. These sessions are fun after school respite sessions which include a snack and lots of playing.

After school groups cost £10 per session for Monday and Wednesday and £12.50 for Tuesday's and must be booked and paid for in advance, per term. If you are interested in booking these sessions please contact


We run sessions after school and twice a month on a Saturday where children can come and spend time with their friends. Play leaders run lots of activities to keep everyone busy including music and cooking. Respite sessions also run throughout school holidays please see our timetable for more information.

All respite is for children aged 5 years and older, the team at Swings & Smiles will work with families to get to know children prior to them attending these groups. Saturday sessions are £45 per day or £25 for half days.


This is our group for under 5's and gives children and parents a chance to attend a toddler group that is specifically for children with special needs or on the pathway. Activities are planned to help with development and socialising with others. Sessions cost £2.50 per family.

Youth Club (Age 11+)

This particular group is aimed at children that attend a special needs school or resource unit, that are able to communicate their needs to the staff and use the toilet independently. The group aims to give the children the opportunity to find common interests with like minded peers, form friendships and have fun together - for children 11 years and older. Sessions need to be booked and paid for in advance, per term and are £4 per session. 

Mini Spec (Y3-5); Spectrum (Y6-8); Oasis (Y9-13)

These sessions are for young people that have an Autism diagnosis and access mainstream school. Similar to our Youth Club these are a great opportunity to meet with friends and socialise in a safe environment. There are games consoles set up and a tuck shop, amongst other fun activities. Sessions need to be booked and paid for in advance, per term and are £4 per session.

Home School Group (Y6-Y8)  

We have teamed up with a local tutor who will be delivering project style learning to small groups of children who are home educated. We aim to provide the children with a variety of skills taught in an informal way. There will be a clear objective for each project for the children to work towards but none of the pressure to do it in a set way, and there will be a key focus on having fun! If your child doesn't fall into this age group please still get in touch and we can discuss alternatives. 

Home Education group for children in Y6-8 runs on a Tuesday 10.30 - 12pm. 


Sessions at the centre are a chance for siblings to get together and have fun, with staff and volunteers on hand to chat and support them with some of the challenges they may face.

Older SIBSupport is for Year 7 and above, the sessions take place on the first Friday of the month from 6-7.30pm and the third Saturday of the month from 1.30 - 3pm. 

Saturday SIBSupport is for children aged 5 years up until they finish primary school. These groups run twice a month from 9.30 - 11am and 11.30 - 1pm. 

SPARK online 

SPARK Online will be running monthly throughout this academic year, with online sessions taking place on the first Thursday of each month from 4-5pm (until August 2023). These sessions will aim to guide, inspire and encourage siblings with a healthy balance of fun (through games and quizzes) and intentional life-related content. Each of the 10 modules throughout the year is based on the ‘10 Keys to Happier Living’ (, and each session will include an optional take-away challenge! In August, all of the siblings who have attended the sessions will be invited to attend an annual SIBSupport residential/activity day in August.

SIBSupport Workshops Online 

We are excited to be able to offer our online workshops for siblings. They are open to any siblings from the ages of 7-14 years and are free of charge to attend. These online courses will run for four weeks and will aim to help participants learn more about disability, understand how to identify and manage their emotions, and to give them tools to work through any challenges they may face as a sibling. The workshop will be interactive and engaging, interspersing content with lots of fun and games. Play and having fun is at the heart of everything we do at Swings & Smiles and SIBSupport is no different.

These courses will run every Wednesday during term time, please email for more information. 

All siblings that attend the SIBSupport sessions will have the opportunity to attend a SIBSSupport workshop, these will be run online or in schools.

All SIBSupport is free to attend.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Ellora Shippen
Contact Position
Centre Manager
01635 285170

Where to go

Swings & Smiles
A Place to Play
Lower Way

Time / Date Details

When is it on
Open 7 days a week, check website for further details.
Time of day

Other Details


Each session has a different cost please see the descriptions or email for more information.
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