Funding tonic for mums and dads at play forum

Youngsters Tyler Buxton, 5, Elsie Smith, 3, and Rosie Smith, 2, choosing toys from Mansfield Play Forums toy library
Youngsters Tyler Buxton, 5, Elsie Smith, 3, and Rosie Smith, 2, choosing toys from Mansfield Play Forums toy library
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The long-standing Mansfield Play Forum has added another string to its bow thanks to a grant from a nationwide charity.

The People’s Health Trust has awarded £37,124 to help the forum with a two-year project aimed at mums and dads who use its toy library for children.

Workshops and training sessions in a variety of subjects are being set up for parents in the Ravensdale area of Mansfield.

“The idea is to encourage more parents to come and join us,” said Lesley Buxton, manager of the play forum, which is based at Hickling Court, off Kingston Road. “We were extremely pleased to receive this grant, and we have already run workshops in crochet and card-making. A creche runs alongside them to look after the children, and the workshops are an ideal chance for families to get together and socialise.”

Projects manager Gill Timmins, who has been involved in children’s play for more than 30 years, added: “This is another service we can offer to families in the area. The parents came to us and said they would like to do more things, and we now want them to take the project on and run it themselves.

“The workshops are held in a relaxed atmosphere. There is no pressure to sign up for six weeks or anything like that. We are flexible because we are well aware of the demands of family life. If parents can make it for only one or two sessions, that’s fine.”

The toy library, whereby toys can be loaned for as little as 50p per week, is just one of the many projects at the play forum, which was established back in 1985 and now serves dozens of Mansfield children.

It relies on funding through grants and donations and received a bumper boost from the Big Lottery last year to run free play sessions. This latest grant has come from money raised by the community interest company, Health Regard, through the Health Lottery. Health Regard director Chris Lunn said: “Projects such as those run by Mansfield Play Forum are extremely valuable to a wide range of individuals.”

The play forum has also received a Big Lottery grant of £9,465 to host its annual summer playday and picnic at Carr Bank Park on Thursday, August 3, which is open to all and expected to attract more than 3,000 people.