Scopes4SEN is a registered charity located in Tissington, Derbyshire. They work to provide free telescopes and other astronomy tools and materials for special educational needs schools and hospitals around the UK. They would be happy to hear from you if you have astronomy equipment to donate or know of an organisation who assist vulnerable people and could use a telescope. Learn more about how they became inspired and how you can get involved to help spread the word.
Below is an article provided by Scopes4SEN:
Joanne and Patrick Poitevin from Tissington provide telescopes for special educational needs schools and hospitals all over UK
Astronomy is our hobby. Over the years, we have travelled all around the world to view solar eclipses, Venus and Mercury transits and much more besides. As time went by, because we enjoyed it so much, we felt that children with special educational needs (SEN) and vulnerable adults should also be given the chance to look through a telescope and explore the Moon, the planets and the stars. Because astronomy equipment is expensive, many schools and colleges are unable to afford even a fairly basic telescope. We started the project "Scopes4SEN" some three years ago to give children with special needs the chance to stargaze with their own telescope at their school or college.
After receiving our first 12 telescopes from Germany, we received donations of equipment from all over Europe, both from manufacturers and individual donors. Whilst schools were at first rather reluctant to accept equipment from us (they couldn’t quite believe we were giving out telescopes for free!), after a year we had a waiting list. Now we have donated about 700 telescopes along with other educational materials including binoculars, SUNoculars, meteorites, books, posters, and magazines. Our aim is to inspire and to get pupils and teachers interested in science and astronomy.
We send telescopes to a variety of places in UK including SEN schools, hospitals and community centres. It is rare that a week goes by when we do not send out a telescope! Besides donating telescopes, Scopes4SEN supports schools and hospitals with astronomy outreach projects and site visits. We demonstrate with hands-on exercises the sizes of planets, astronomical distances, how craters are formed, etc, and we love to share our expertise and passion with those who are using the equipment. We were delighted to have recently been supported by Derbyshire County Council for funding to obtain a projector and screen, and we are working hard to source other teaching aids too. It makes a big difference now that we have our own screen and projector and we even can demonstrate and project during the daytime.
Some use the telescopes to show the Moon, the planets and the stars, but other groups also use the telescopes for terrestrial observing. Nottingham Children’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street, for example, use their telescopes for the children to look out of the window and for bird watching – all of which helps to inspire a love of nature and brings a little joy and beauty to those who need it most.
After a lot of hard work, we have now been recognised as a registered charity. We are excited as to what the future might hold for our work. Please do take a look at our website https://scopes4sen.weebly.com/ and, if you can, support our project to bring something of the wonder and majesty of space to children. Or, if you have a telescope or educational material in the loft, do not use, please donate to Scopes4SEN and we will make sure we find a good home for it. We are over the Moon when we see the spark in those pupils eyes!