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Businessman offers free support to local children with additional needs

Last March local businessman Zachary Hirst founded Sensory Toys, offering a free sensory equipment hire in their home environment for children and adults with additional needs. With the current lockdown in place Zachary is unable to operate as he would like in order to keep his customers safe. However Zachary has kept himself busy by donating personalised sensory boxes to local families who may have been struggling at home with their children and schools and charities.

Louie and Leo

Over the past six years, Zachary has run a successful events company. It was through meeting thousands of people every year including celebrities and TV shows such as ‘Don’t tell the Bride’ and ‘The Brit Awards’, that he kept hearing the same story about how a lot of places unfortunately were unable to accommodate for children with special needs. Not only this, but many play centres and other facilities are frequently unequipped to accommodate children with additional needs, resulting in them being excluded; unable to take part and missing out on vital development play and socialising. Families expressed how their children would feel left out an isolated.

Zachary decided to therefore research into this further and upon receiving quotes for specialist sensory equipment he was shocked at just how expensive most sensory equipment really was. It was clear to Zachary that the vast majority of families would struggle to afford this much needed equipment, with most price tags starting at around £500+, clearly making it very difficult for families to try and accommodate all the needs of their children.

He decided to kick-start by obtaining the key sensory equipment he had come across and after purchasing around £15,000 worth of items he developed a new type of business mindset and drive. It was completely unique to how he had previously thought when acquiring his event equipment for his business Zaks Parties and Events. Due to this he wanted to do something different, thereby starting his plans and after months of hard work…

Zachary told Andover Radio 95.9fm I really just want to help people, I couldn’t believe how much this kind of equipment costs families, its a lot of money to fork out if the child doesn’t respond well. So by providing families in need with specialist equipment for free hire in a home environment they can try it out and purchase at a later date.

Some children become particularly attached to items, so what we tend to do is loan it for a week and then swap it over. I have managed to purchase a few of each item so I’m not restricted to only supporting one family we are able to supply the same piece of equipment to 3 or 4 different families at the same time. The equipment is then all deep cleaned after in line with the Covid guidance.

I’ve had to scale back with a lot of what I as offering, for example I’m currently unable to go into Naomi House at present and I’m unable to loan the equipment during lockdown but I’ve been providing children who are really struggling personalised boxes for them to keep. this has had a really good response. I just really like helping people. and helping families manage their children’s needs.”

Zachary also told us that sensory equipment can also benefit those with dementia, helping to improve their; motor performance, ability with everyday tasks, cognitive tasks, remembering, problem-solving and judging what to do in everyday activities. Not only this but it also helps with stress, comfort, mood and much more.

To contact Zachary and his team head over to their website