Community News From Around Our Area

Appeal For Help from Spencer’s Retreat

Spencer’s Retreat is a fun, safe and understanding environment for children with special needs and their families.

We have noticed how much autistic and special needs children can benefit from spending time outside in our children’s natural play area, growing together area and mini village play area, and so we are seeking support to develop these areas further. We hope it will raise awareness about the value of the outdoors to the life of children and young people with autism and special needs.

There is an ever-increasing number of restrictions being placed on children’s opportunities to play outside in nature and, consequently, they are suffering. This disconnect with the natural world can be linked to higher levels of anxiety, obesity and can impact on a child’s learning process as well as their social and emotional development. We believe this same disconnect is happening for children with autism and special needs.

During the last decade or more, research has been developing to highlight the impact of nature on the healthy development of children and young people. This research has shown us that symptoms associated with childhood challenges such as ADHD can be reduced through spending time in nature, for example, less anxiety and improved concentration.

One area that is less well researched is the impact of nature on children with autism and special needs, despite autism being the fastest growing neurodevelopment disorder facing children. However, this is slowly changing, and we are now seeing studies emerging which demonstrate the impact of greenspace on children with autism.

Phase 1 – development of the mini village play area

Level the ground, turf the ground, add sensory play equipment, mud kitchens, chimes, sensory herbs and other play equipment. Paint fences and gates, place each Mini Village House on its own decked floor, build a canopy across the front to cover the area 15m x 3m so it is accessible all year round.

Phase 2 – development of the growing together area

Complete the build of greenhouse, hen house and run. Plant fruit trees, fruit bushes, pond plants. Build raised beds, create seating area and family eating area with BBQ, create sensory area.

Phase 3 – development of large natural play area

Create amphitheatre story telling area, new trampoline with sides, wooden play equipment, swing, slide, sea saw, logs, tree trunks, tractor tyres, steppingstones. Willow trees walk, pirate ship, rolling hills and banks, sensory toys, small pallet dens, two small summerhouses for families to take shade from the sun or keep dry from the rain.

Phase 4 – create petting and animal meet and greet area

Create 3m x 3m fenced and gated hard standing area inside each animal enclosure, for children and families to get up close and stroke the animals.

We are a family run small charity that makes a large impact on our families from across the country. We are run and managed 100% by volunteers. We try our best to set up projects one by one and involve the communities of Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire to volunteer time, make donations and raise funds. We also try to stay off grid for two reasons; it helps keep our environment, our greenbelt and agricultural land protected and keeps our outgoings to a minimum. This enables us to give our animals a forever home and keep our entrance fees low.

Most large companies and some small companies like to give back through Corporate Social Responsibility. If you own a company, work for a company that offers fund matching, Corporate Social Responsibility by volunteer days, raising funds, or donating money towards our projects, please get in touch.

The Langdale Trust / Spencer’s Retreat don’t have a paid funding team, we don’t have a paid Corporate Social Responsibility engagement team and we don’t have a team of people engaging with big national companies. We don’t have paid staff, we don’t have CEOs, we don’t have massive overheads, we don’t take expenses. We do have commitment to our families and every penny of your donated money or time goes directly to the families we support. By doing what we do, we have turned a 6-acre over-grown greenbelt dump into a charity farm for children with special needs and disabilities that is one of the best in the county. People come from all over the country to visit us, but we need your help to update.

If you can help with volunteer groups, building materials, play equipment and sensory play equipment, or if you can help with a financial donation, or help to raise funds, please drop me an email at

If you are unable to do either of the above but you could afford to make a personal donation of £1, £5, £10 then we are grateful for every penny.