Written by Stephanie McNicholas
Friendship and fun is on the menu for parents and children at a project based in Cilfynydd, which is flourishing with support from Interlink RCT.
The Little Lounge is run by a team of volunteers who are all part of a local church called The Lounge. The project started in January 2015 as a baby and toddler group and has quickly grown, with a new Play Café running on Fridays at Cilfynydd Community Centre.
Local councillor Barrie Morgan contacted Interlink RCT – which works with around 500 voluntary groups across Rhondda Cynon Taf – to ask for help with setting up the play cafe.
Interlink’s Support and Advice Co-ordinator for Taf Ely and Cynon, Ken Moon, met with several members of the community centre management committee and outlined options available to the group to take the project forwards.
Ken has provided on-going support, helping with business planning advice and identifying sources of funding.
The project had a start-up grant from a Christian funding organisation called Catalydd which helped buy new rugs, a coffee machine and team polo shirts.
Fresh healthy food and drinks are served at the Play Café at an affordable price so that parents can feel like they can treat themselves as well as their children.
There are different play zones; a dressing up corner, a reading corner and a baby area. There is no age limit for the Play Café but the play activities are aimed at nought-five years.
Katie Hadley from the Little Lounge project said:
“Everyone is welcome at Little Lounge and the Play Café regardless of beliefs or background.
“Parents need somewhere safe and welcoming to take refuge when life is tough with a young family. Little Lounge is trying to meet that need in our village and we feel privileged to be a part of it!
“We’ve been massively blessed to be part of the Tesco Community Food Connection, co-ordinated by Fare Share – where we get free produce every week, which otherwise would go to waste. This is one key way we can keep the prices down at the café.”
The baby group meets on a Thursday morning from 10am-12pm, with entry just £1.50. The setting and activities are aimed at babies under 18 months and the group is ideal for meeting other parents and carers in the area.
There are sensory sessions, like messy play or sensory lights. Adults get unlimited tea or coffee and babies get a healthy snack.
The Play Café on Fridays is run on Fridays at the Centre, from 9am-3pm.
“We’ve seen some lovely friendship groups grow out of Little Lounge. Parents say the group has been a lifeline.
“Our dream is to have a permanent play venue of our own with a ‘discovery garden’ so that parents can bring their babies and toddlers to explore indoor and outdoor activities.”
Ken Moon said:
“The Little Lounge shows what a small group of dedicated people with big ideas and a small amount of start-up funding can achieve.
“I’m looking forward to supporting the Little Lounge to develop and grow and realise their ambitions for Cilfynydd.”
For more information on Interlink RCT, go to www.interlinkrct.co.uk