A new play group for children aged up to four years has sprung to life in Penryn following a successful funding bid.

Little Sparks has opened its doors at St Gluvias Church hall after the Diocese of Truro approved a grant of £1,000 to organisers.

The grant funding has been used to purchase equipment and toys with the group aiming to be self-sufficient in the long term.

Revd Amanda Evans, Priest in Charge at St Gluvias Church, said: “Having talked to local parents and carers, it became obvious there was a real lack of groups for toddlers in Penryn. This became critical as we moved out of lockdown.”

With lockdowns having been in place for huge proportions of toddlers’ lives, the benefits of social groups for parents and toddlers was highlighted in two recent reports by Ofsted and Oxford University researchers. An Ofsted survey of 208 nurseries in England found children returning after the first lockdown had fallen behind in personal, social and emotional development with the Oxford study showing that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged backgrounds were most affected.

Amanda said: “We believe working with families in our community should be at the heart of what we do as a church. Meeting young families in a post-Covid society and providing a place for children to play and parents to find friendship is addressing a very real need. We want to bring church to our local families by providing a fun, friendly and inexpensive toddler group for them to use every week. This is the best way we can do something to help the Penryn families now. We believe this is the start of something which can grow in to mission here.”

Amanda added: “It is such a happy and positive group and it has been so good to see the children playing together and the mums and dads chatting over tea and homemade cake.”  

The group is now looking for volunteers to help when it restarts after the summer break in September. If you would like to help with anything from providing cake, helping serve tea and coffee or with running the group please contact Amanda via the FB page Little Sparks at Penryn | Facebook or call 07544527649.

Jane Wheeler and Charlotte Butcher from TM Falmouth helped Amanda to set up the group in Penryn, after the success of Little Sparks in All Saints, Falmouth. They loaned toys and helped with Facebook marketing and bookings. Jane and Charlotte are willing to give practical help and advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a toddler group in the same way. Jane can be contacted via email at jane.wheeler@newstreetchurch.org

Read the Ofsted report here.