York therapists climbing to the top with new premises

Louise Newton, Beverley Nunes and Lizzie Huxford

A York company has moved into new premises complete with therapy swings and a climbing wall to help youngsters with sensory integration differences.

OT4Me offers specialist occupational therapy services for children and young people in York and surrounding areas. The company was set up in January 2020 by former NHS occupational therapists Lizzie Huxford and Louise Newton after they saw a gap in provision locally.

As well as offering sensory integration services, OT4Me also offers other occupational therapy services, and works with schools, charities, the NHS and families.

Lizzie said: “Louise and I could see there was a need for a specialist service provision and we often spoke about setting up a company. But I don’t know if launching just before lockdown was bad timing or good timing!”

The new premises at Middlethorpe Park, which is kitted out with specialist equipment including the specialist therapy swings and climbing wall, meant OT4Me had space to take on occupational therapist Beverley Nunes and an intern to try and tackle their 14-week waiting list.

Lizzie added: “With the approach and equipment we use, it can look to the untrained eye as though we are just playing with our clients, but we are carefully planning the activities to ensure that we are providing the right type of sensory input to work on neuroplasticity, to attempt to influence the brain’s wiring.”

The pair were helped to find the premises and set it up with support from AD:VENTURE, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and helps businesses that are pre-start or less than three years old.

AD:VENTURE also gave them a grant during the first lockdown so they could work remotely; put them in touch with a business mentor, and offered them access to webinars in business basics.

Lizzie said: ““AD:VENTURE helped sustain the business and helped us grow. We are both working mums and have managed to do this while balancing looking after our children.

“We did not set off to be a large company, but this is how it has grown. The help from AD:VENTURE has been incredible and we would not be where we are without it.”

Now they have the new premises, Lizzie and Louise also plan to offer more one-to-one services and run groups. They also want to work with other specialists, such as speech therapists and psychologists.

Coun Andrew Waller, executive member for economy and strategic planning at City of York Council, said: “OT4Me is a great example of spotting a need for local specialist support and taking the plunge during the pandemic to create a business in York providing help to individuals and their families which draws on the highly skilled workforce in the city.

“City of York Council has partnered with AD:VENTURE on numerous occasions to support business growth in York. We commend AD:VENTURE’s objective of providing quality support to help local businesses grow, especially in their early days when they require it the most.

“Business Growth Voucher Scheme is another resource provided by the council to support businesses and help them grow. I urge York-based businesses to register for the scheme as vouchers are limited.”

For more information about the Business Growth Voucher Scheme go to https://www.york.gov.uk/BusinessGrowthVoucherScheme

AD:VENTURE, which has helped thousands of businesses since its launch in 2017, has funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City region. As well as City of York Council, they include the region’s other eight local authorities, Leeds Trinity University, the Prince’s Trust, and North and West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

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