Anonymous grant saves Toy Library service

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A SURPRISE handout of £25,000 has saved a closure-threatened service run by Bulwell Community Toy Library to help children with speech difficulties.

The successful Language Through Toys and Play scheme has been running for 11 years.

The unique service was on the verge of the axe because of a lack of funding.

However staff and volunteers are now celebrating after receiving the money from a UK charitable trust, which has asked to remain anonymous.

It means Language Through Toys and Play can continue running for at least another year and will be able to help under-fives with their speech problems.

Via the service, specially trained staff from the toy library work with families in their own homes, using simple games and play techniques to encourage children to talk, think, communicate and use their imagination.

By intervening early in this way, the scheme tackles potential problems at an early age, which means that many children don’t need specialist support from a speech therapist later on. It also helps children to get the most out of pre-school and school activities, including developing social skills, such as making friends.

The service has proved so successful that families are often referred to it by their health visitor or children’s centre. Parents and carers can also contact the service directly, on behalf of their children.

Steve Parkinson, manager at the toy library, which is based off Sandhurst Road, said: “It’s naturally very worrying for parents if their children seem behind other children when it comes to talking.

“In many cases though, there’s no physical or medical reason for children not talking. They simply need a little extra support and encouragement.

“The Language Through Toys and Play service offers this support in families’ own homes, so it’s very convenient and practical for parents. Plus, of course, children feel relaxed and comfortable because they’re in familiar surroundings.

“The service has been running for more than a decade now and is well-respected and trusted by local people.

“It would have been heartbreaking to see it close, so this new funding is very welcome.”

The £25,000 grant is the latest boost for the toy library since it was hit by the theft of a shipping container packed with thousands of pounds worth of equipment earlier this year.

In an outpouring of support, organisations such as the Early Learning Centre and the contruction firm Carillion have helped replace all that kit.

It has also won more than £76,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to run free outdoor play sessions for the under-fives.

These have now been launched and are held at Bulwell Hall Park, off Sandhurst Road, every Wednesday from 1 pm to 2.30 pm. The aim of the sessions is to introduce youngsters to the natural world.