Case Study: Sense Abilities

Business Profile

Sense Abilities provides accessible pop-up sensory play, advocacy, information, advice and guidance for families and organisations. The business provides community pop-up sensory sessions, events and party hire across Torbay and South Devon.


Health & Wellbeing


Torbay and South Devon

TDA Business Support:

  • Cash Flow Forecasts to support business start-up
  • Developing and growing a business network
  • Creating a business model that met the needs of the local community
  • Growth Support



Managing Director Suzannah Jones was inspired to create Sense Abilities after noticing the positive effects sensory interaction has not only on her disabled son, but with his siblings and the family around him. Suzannah soon realised that accessible, interactive sensory environments were hugely beneficial to all. With that in mind, her determination grew to create opportunities for the community to access and benefit from sensory spaces.


The Challenge

Suzannah had a clear vision of the business concept but she needed the support to build her confidence and start her own business. There was a particular need to support the financial aspects of running a business, and produce accurate cash flow forecasts to check the viability of the business model.


The Solution

Suzannah met with TDA Business Advisor Kim Thornton on the Start Up and Grow project. Kim inspired Suzannah to take the first steps into business, giving her greater confidence to achieve her goals.

Suzannah said: “Kim Thornton has supported Sense Abilities from the word go, from the planning stages through to launch. She has been a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the business especially with Cash Flow Forecasts which weren’t my strong point. She helped me gain a greater understanding of these and the confidence to produce my own.

“Kim has played a huge part in guiding me in the right direction and signposted me to relevant organisations and other areas of support.

“Kim has picked me up when I questioned my ability, made me look outside of the box and helped me create a business model that filled a much needed gap within Torbay and its surrounding area. It was great to have a sounding board on various aspects of the business which only further reinforced my belief in what I was doing and achieving.”

As the business grew, Kim supported Suzanne through the ERDF Growth Support Programme.



Providing pop-up sensory environments, set up and adapted to any space, Sense Abilities works with individuals, businesses, groups and organisations, breaking down those barriers. The nature of what Sense Abilities does is at the very forefront of social responsibility and inclusion, taking away the label of sensory being a ‘special needs thing’ and promoting the benefits of sensory for all, not just a select few.

Suzannah added: “Being on the Growth Support Programme has given me the confidence and belief that I can achieve amazing things when I put my mind to it. It has taught me to step outside of my comfort zone as that is where I’ve grown as an individual and where the magic happens.”

Sense Abilties is proud to be a Lloyds Bank School of Social Entrepreneurs Fellow after completing and graduating from the School of Social Entrepreneurs Start up course.

Suzannah’s business receives support from the Big Lottery Fund, The Mayor’s Fund, Paignton Festival, Torbay Community Development Trust, Torbay Lottery and The Daytrippers Foundation. This is testament to the value her business has to the local community.


Next Steps

An exciting next step for Sense Abilities is to open a unique Community Sensory Café & Hub in Torquay Town Centre. The idea, which is already in the planning stages, will bring sensory to the high-street and very much into the public domain. Funding is being sort at present to make this project a reality that will see a sensory inspired café bringing the outdoors in, with moss walls, trees and grass floors. It will provide meeting rooms for local organisations to use, a changing toilet, the only one within the town centre, and a fully accessible Specialist Sensory Room which will be open to the public and benefit residents as well as visitors to the Bay. This is a huge project, and Suzannah now has the confidence, thanks to the input of the TDA and other agencies, to see it through to fruition.


Sense Abilities has just been awarded a pot of funding from The Daytrippers Foundation to be able to provide 25 FREE Pop-up Sensory Sessions within Torbay and surrounding areas for children with additional needs.

Currently working with local libraries to provide sessions, the next Sensory Pop-up Sessions are at Torquay Library on 13 March & 10 April, 3.30 – 5.30pm and Brixham Library on 28 March, 11am – 1pm. Call the Library on 01803 208300 to book.

More dates will be confirmed for future sessions at Torquay, Paignton & Brixham Libraries.

If you are or know of an organisation who works with children with additional needs and would like to benefit from one of these free sessions, please contact Suzannah by emailing or ringing 07453 103114.


To find out more about Sense Abilities visit

To see how the ERDF Growth Support programme can help your business visit





The Heart of the South West Growth Support Programme project is receiving up to £904,945 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit The accountable body for this programme is Devon County Council, working with the following delivery partners: BIP, Cosmic, North Devon +, Somerset Business Agency, TDA and YTKO

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