New homes for local families

Laura Gibson with Scarlett-Rose and Oliver.
Laura Gibson with Scarlett-Rose and Oliver.

Babies and toddlers in a north Northumberland village have enjoyed the festive period at a new playgroup, thanks to one enterprising young mum.

Laura Gibson, mum to 21-month-old twins Oliver and Scarlett-Rose, moved into social landlord Isos’ new Kennedy Green development in Beadnell during the summer and within a few weeks, she had started baby-and-toddler group Stay and Play.

In the run-up to Christmas, the children were making decorations for their families’ Christmas trees.

Laura said: “Our first week was a great success. We had 18 children arrive with their parents and carers.

“Since then we’ve grown and grown.

“Some weeks we get more than 30 children turn up. I can’t believe how popular it is.”

Stay and Play, which runs for two hours every Tuesday, caters for children from birth up to age four, laying on a variety of crafts and activities to keep them entertained. The group doesn’t charge, but does ask for donations.

Laura said: “I decided to start the group as there are more children in Beadnell now because of the young families like us moving into the new development at Kennedy Green.

“The bus service here is quite limited, so getting to other groups can be hard if you don’t have your own transport.

“I took the decision not to charge as I know all too well how expensive having young children can be.”

Now Laura’s baby and toddler group is helping to build a real sense of community.

“Not only does Stay and Play keep the children entertained and help them make new friends,” Laura said.

“It’s also proven to be a brilliant support network for the mums in particular. They can get out of the house for a few hours, have a chat and meet new people from their area.”

During the school holidays, when most other playgroups in the area close, Stay and Play opens its doors to older siblings to ensure no-one is left out of the fun, and this has also attracted families from further afield to the group.

“We haven’t just had mums with their children,” said Laura.

“We’ve had dads, grandparents, aunties and uncles as well as holidaymakers – it’s really bringing the village together.”