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‘The right toys at the right time’ can make a huge difference to the development of children with special needs. And Somerset mum Kettan Williams has seen her four-year-old daughter Sophie benefit from the loan of Play Therapy Pods from a leading children’s disability charity.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children offers 16-week loans of packages of specialist toys – developed with the support of a play therapist – for children from birth to 19 years of age. In 2017 Newlife – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – will be making around 1,000 Play Therapy Pod deliveries to homes all around the UK, thanks to a donation of more than £70,000 by The Morrisons Foundation.

Newlife has around 400 Pods, which each contain around £400 worth of toys, and are aimed at a variety of ages and disability needs. Interactive toys help improve hand-eye co-ordination, auditory toys encourage interaction with others through play and sound and tactile toys encourage motor function. A free service, Play Therapy Pods are designed to stimulate senses as well as help children be comforted and distracted from pain through play.

The generous grant from the Morrisons Foundation will help hundreds more children like Sophie from Midsomer Norton.

Sophie, who is one of twins, has a chromosome abnormality and global development delay. Mum Kettan said: “As the parent of a child with special needs you are always looking for – and are open to – new ideas and new ways of engaging. I am part of a special needs group at our local children’s centre and it was other parents there who told me about Newlife and the Play Therapy Pods.

“The most recent Pod we had was particularly good – with the right toys at just the right time for Sophie. She had recently had new glasses and grommits fitted, so she could see and hear better. She was particularly taken with a toy that involves balls – something that we would have walked straight past if we’d seen it in a shop – and it was wonderful to see her interaction; she was squealing and running around laughing. It gave us new opportunities to interact with Sophie, talking about the toy and how we were playing with it. For the first time, her interest was really sparked and it has helped develop her skills through play.

“We will definitely be trying another Play Therapy Pod.”

Newlife, which has helped more than 210 disabled and terminally ill children in Somerset, supports families through a number of equipment services. For further information go to

Pictured: Sophie Williams with brother John