SEN-den is a social enterprise. We are a small and local, not-for-profit organisation. We are a community business. If you want to get really technical, we’re a Community Interest Company (CIC) limited by guarantee; our Company Number is 12164083. We’re a business that exists purely to serve the community, and so we make no profit. We’re clear on our purpose and impact-driven, and we gratefully receive grants and donations to help us to continue our work in the community and remain viable as a not-for-profit business.
What does all of this mean in practice? Why does it matter?
Families have told us that they need more play, information and specialist services to support early intervention for their young, autistic children. They are willing to pay to access play opportunities, specialist information and support services, provided they are relevant, good quality and available in a timely manner. So SEN-den has been creating new opportunities for families to access the activities and services they are looking for, and our charges enable us to cover some of the costs we incur to provide them. We benchmark our prices against mainstream businesses in Enfield, though the reality is that the delivery costs of our niche services are much higher. Why is this?
SESSION COSTS: We keep the numbers of children in each play session low, with a maximum of 6 children at any one time, because we know that autistic children tend to prefer a less busy environment, and we need to keep everyone safe. On the other hand, mainstream providers of children’s activities can typically accommodate many more neurotypical children into a session, enabling them to split the costs between a larger number of families (room hire charges, equipment and materials, facilitator’s fees) and make a profit. This isn’t possible for us when we have smaller groups of neuro-diverse children taking part, but we don’t wish to double our prices, so we rely on the support of funders to help us cover 50% of our costs.
FACILITATOR COSTS: We are not prepared to compromise on quality or safety, and therefore only work with DBS-checked, qualified therapists and trained professionals to deliver our services. Their expertise comes with a cost and again we rely on funding to help us reduce the charges for parents attending workshops. We have been fortunate to get some fantastic “community-spirited” professionals coming forward to work with us, offering us discounts to make our workshops more accessible to families seeking specialist information, which is otherwise hard to come by.
PREMISES COSTS: We are based at a lovely venue, the Lancaster Centre; it is a disability and family-friendly space in the heart of Enfield. It is important to us that we offer our services to families in a safe, comfortable, inclusive environment which is easy to find, whether you are walking, driving or travelling by public transport. This is our biggest expense as a business, but without a venue we cannot offer our services to families. We also know that autistic children feel more secure returning to the same venue each week. Once again, we rely on the generosity of funders to help us cover these costs, so that we don’t have to pass on the full cost of our venue and overheads to families, but can still offer services in a clean, pleasant, inclusive and consistent environment.
We appreciate that it can be a stretch for families to access paid-for services but we want to offer you an alternative way to access the play, information and support you and your family are seeking.
Some of our families utilise their Disability Living Allowance to enable their children to take part in the activities and sessions we offer at SEN-den, and DLA can also be used to fund the cost of accessing a specialist workshop that can promote early intervention for your child. Some of our parents use their Carers’ Allowance to fund self-care opportunities, such as our lower-cost massage and counselling services.