A pioneering new multi-purpose centre – which brings community and disability services together in one building – was today opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (Monday 9th July).

National disability charity Sense developed the £14 million TouchBase Pears centre and it is now considered a vital part of the regeneration of Selly Oak.

The centre provides specialist provision for people with complex disabilities, including deafblindness, as well as services for the wider community.

Creating more than 100 jobs, the centre includes a café, arts and performance area, garden, office space and gallery.

Some of the accessible spaces and facilities at TouchBase Pears - an inside space with lots of room, children's library books shelves, seating areas, electric glass doors
Some of the accessible spaces and facilities at TouchBase Pears

At the opening ceremony, Sense’s Royal Patron Princess Anne, met supporters, business leaders, and the public, before taking a tour of the centre with Justin Molloy, the charity’s chair and Chief Executive, Gill Morbey.

Centre manager, Laura Benson said: “TouchBase Pears is quickly becoming an important community hub, with so much going on, including arts and sport, children’s library and a buzzing café.

“We’re delighted to welcome our Patron The Princess Royal.”

Libby plays in a ball pit clear balls lit from underneath by colourful light at Sense TouchBase Pears
Libby plays at Sense TouchBase Pears

The £14 million centre was created with funding from trusts and foundations, including the Pears Foundation and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

Sense consulted with adults and children with a diverse range of disabilities to ensure that the accessibility of the centre is second to none and meets all needs.

The charity uses the centre to run a number of specialist services, supporting people with complex disabilities to learn new skills, build confidence, develop communication skills and take part in community-based activities.

The cafe area at TouchBase Pears - for centre users and the wider community - lots of space, large windows making it a very bright space, colourful seating around plain tables
Community cafe at TouchBase Pears

Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe (Labour) said: “I was delighted to attend the official opening of Sense TouchBase Pears in Selly Oak. I have seen the fantastic work of Sense first hand, making a real difference to children and families.

“What makes TouchBase Pears so special is that it brings support services for children with complex communications needs together with facilities for the whole community, it is a truly pioneering centre.”

Gill Morbey, Chief Executive of Sense, said: “TouchBase Pears is a new way of delivering social care services, leading the way for the rest of the voluntary sector and beyond.

“With its focus not just on services, but arts and wellbeing, office space, library, café and rooted in the heart of the community, it shows Sense can work beyond the boundaries of social care.”

And she added that the pioneering centre sets an example for disability inclusion, saying: “TouchBase Pears is bringing people together and demonstrating how integration and inclusion can work in Birmingham, but its reach and impact will be much wider.”

More about TouchBase Pears:







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