The Frome Toy Library has today announced that its very future now hangs in the balance. Toy Library organisers, Purple Elephant, is facingnpossible closure in less than two months if a relatively small amount of money cannot be found to save it.
This non-profit community service, which has been running for over 30 years, needs only modest funds to run its all year-round home-lending toy service as well as its weekly play-and-stay sessions but the current climate means the company must now turn to the local businesses of the town to ask if they would help. Are you part of a local business who can help?
Open to all families, the Frome Toy Library play sessions are much more than just play; with on-site support workers offering advice to sometimes isolated or overwhelmed young parents, it offers practical support as well as the health benefits of social interaction and friendship for adults as well as little ones. The environmental and practical benefits of being able to borrow over 50 different educationally-inspired toy-sacks, changing the toys in the home every week without buying piles of plastic or filling the home with unused play-equipment serves us all to create a cleaner world and more stimulated children.
During lockdown, The Frome Toy Library team, run alongside Frome Children’s Festival and providers of free activities for families during the school holidays, was dedicated to serving the local community. In total, it provided in excess of 1,200 free play and creativity gift packs to 800 local, vulnerable families!
The recipients of these free, creative, non-screen toys were all identified and contacted through Children’s Social Care and Intervention workers, school family support workers, housing associations, schools and Fair Frome. The gifts and resources were handed out with free school meals and family food-bank parcels, with the remainder delivered directly to shielding families.
Purple Elephant Director Sue Willis personally designed, compiled and hand-packed literally hundreds of hand-made, specially selected sensory creative activity packs for children to make at home, all from grants provided by Frome Town Council, Somerset County Disabilities team, Live West Housing Association, Rotary Club of Frome and Somerset Community Foundation.
During the summer holidays the organisation provided a full six weeks of socially-distanced, free holiday activity sessions for local families in need of support. Taking place three times a week in socially-distanced outdoor spaces, the activities numbered 280 pre-booked places, available at 36 sessions to many of Frome’s most vulnerable families.
“We are determined that we must keep this 30 year amazing resource going,’ said Director Sue Willis. “Funding is harder and harder to access and has all but dried up in the current climate, so we are turning to local businesses with open arms to ask if they can spare as little as £250 to become one of our sponsors, please.”
“As Frome businesses themselves are facing huge challenges, we realise that our normal high-investment sponsorships are impossible for most, so all that we can do is appeal directly for modest amounts from multiple companies and businesses. If any local service-provider, be that law or finance or manufacturing or software, any shop, restaurant or cafe, branch of a national company, independent or even individually-run business feels they would like to stand up publicly and support this community service, then please, please get in touch and become a sponsor to get us and the children through the next year. It’s not a very subtle message, but it is the only one we have.”