Cafe helps hundreds enjoy home playtime

A mother and daughter enterprise that runs play sessions for under-fives in Wolverhampton has created a new range of free activity packs for children to enjoy at home during lockdown.

Lisa Stallard, co-founder and director of Wolves Play Cafe (left) and Councillor Beverley Momenabadi with some of the play packs that are being distributed to pre-school children across Wolverhampton. Photo: Councillor Beverley Momenabadi
Lisa Stallard, co-founder and director of Wolves Play Cafe (left) and Councillor Beverley Momenabadi with some of the play packs that are being distributed to pre-school children across Wolverhampton. Photo: Councillor Beverley Momenabadi

Wolves Play Cafe, founded by Lisa Stallard and mother Helen in 2018, provides themed ‘stay and play’ groups for pre-school youngsters at community venues across the city, including in All Saints, Whitmore Reans and Wednesfield.

With the onset of lockdown and many children unable to attend public sessions, the cafe has been focusing on delivering play packs to families it feels will benefit the most from play at home activities.

Play cafe director Lisa said: “Our interactive packs have different themes, such as jungle, minibeasts or dinosaurs, and contain books and activity cards. They are also fully reusable, so if a family has more than one child they can all use them.

“With the help of our partnership organisations and funding from the council’s Holiday Squad programme and Rotary Club, we have been able to develop and distribute packs to nurseries, health visitors and also The Haven.

“By May we will have distributed 185 packs to families with children under-five, with 50 being shared through current Postcode Lottery Trust funding, where we are working with the Refugee and Migrant Centre to help make packs accessible to families where English is a second language.

“What we are continually working towards is reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation for parents and caregivers, whilst enabling young children to enjoy play-time at home,” she added.

Councillor Beverley Momenabadi has worked with the cafe over the last few months to help secure funding and also to distribute packs to The Haven and to families in her ward.

She said: “It’s been great to team up with Wolves Play Cafe to get these play packs and sensory packs to children and families in Ettingshall. I will be distributing these alongside Windsor Nursery School to families that need them.

“We know Covid-19 has hit families hard and with many children having missed months of being in schools, these packs will go a long way in helping support their development.”

Lisa added: "We are still growing as an organisation and want to build on the work we are doing with the help of Wolverhampton parents.

“We will be restarting outdoor play from April when parents and caregivers will be able to come along to play spaces, meet others and enjoy varied play activities, songs, stories and rhymes all planned and facilitated by an Early Years specialist.”

Hayley Powell, senior community fundraiser at The Haven said: “This project plays such an important part in families lives across the city.

“These packs show the most important thing – that play time doesn’t have to be expensive and involve fancy toys. It’s about having fun and being creative.

“The packs kindly donated to The Haven will provide hours of fun and quality time for mother and child.”

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