Mobile Toy Library

Last updated on September 19, 2016

Just Be Kids: Breaking the cycle of deprivation for disadvantaged children.

The aim of this project is to improve the current well-being and the future life chances of disadvantaged local children who often start school way behind their peers.

In 2005 Charlton Toy Library secured a two year grant from The Big Lottery Fund to run a Mobile Van Project. We ran a two-year pilot which was hugely successful and far exceeded its targets. We continued the outreach service with help from Help a Capital Child, the Capital Community Foundation and the Lloyds TSB Foundation. With grants from The Local Network Fund and Help a Capital Child. we were able to add on a Child Safety Equipment loan scheme too.

In 2013 the outreach service received essential funding from BBC Children in Need for a three-year project. The project was a great success and funding has been renewed until 2019 with another three year grant of £32614 . Thank you Pudsey! 

Sharon, our Outreach Worker, meets families and assesses what help the children need. Some have no toys or books at all to play with due to severe financial difficulties. Some have medical problems. Others have  problematic behavioural problems. Some have lived through the trauma of domestic abuse or have suffered the effects of parental mental health and/or drug-taking issues. Most of them are isolated and insecure. As a result of such difficulties in their lives, these children are not school-ready when the time comes. Their pre-school learning and behaviour are often way behind that of their peers and they cannot make the most of their school careers. This perpetuates the cycle of deprivation into their adult lives and often into that of their own children.

Our project aims to bring these children all the advice, support and equipment necessary for them to break this cycle and to “just be kids” again. We supply the missing play equipment and books to bring back a sense of curiosity, fun and learning into their lives. We run craft and music sessions to encourage creativity, develop social interaction skills and reduce isolation. We supply essential child home safety equipment to keep them safe in their own homes. We provide advice to parents on child development & behaviour, parenting skills and child home safety.

The mobile toy loan service visits isolated groups across the borough, refugee and asylum seeking families, women’s refuges and several HomeStart groups, all with children aged 0-5. This service now operates on three days a week and is well used by all its members. This service is free for those families on the outreach service.

Sharon supported many children over the course of the first three-year grant from BBC Children in Need: in Year 1 she supported 121 children, in Year 2 she supported 133 children and in Year 3 she supported 152 children. In 2015 we also provided 29 children with clothes as they had insufficient clothing. In some cases, pregnant homeless women had no clothes or baby equipment at all for their newborns. With our wide networks within the local community, we sourced everything that they needed.