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Connors Toy Library

Brief description of what services your organisation offers

Connors Toy Libraries provides 13 Community Toy Library sessions providing stay and play sessions and toy loan to over 2000 families or carers with pre-school aged children annually. For families identified as ‘hard to reach or vulnerable’ we provide:

  • Home visits
  • Support to access their local Toy Library session
  • Support to access other community provision
  • Signposting to other organisations
  • Support with immunisations
  • Support at Team around the Child meetings
  • Support with housing, furniture, benefits etc
  • Monthly play sessions and toy loan to Hostels
  • Fortnightly play session and toy loan to the refuge monthly play session and toy loan to Harbour School
  • Childcarers toy store providing resources for professionals working with and caring for children
  • The only free bank of resources for families with children with additional needs to borrow to support their child’s development within their own homes

Parents are given the opportunity to gain recognised qualifications whilst volunteering ; e.g. Non Vocational Qualification level 2/3 in childcare and business admin, this empowers their self-esteem, builds confidence and enables them to apply for the job’s they would like to do.

Where the service is provided?

Weekly Community Toy Libraries providing stay and play and toy loan are based across Portsmouth, with the aim of having a Toy Library within walking distance of all families. Families with children with additional needs can borrow the resources to use within their own homes. The outreach workers provide home visits to hard to reach and vulnerable families across the City, supporting them to access their local Toy Library provision, other provision as appropriate. Monthly Toy Library and toy loan session for those living in St. Monica’s, St. Paul’s and Catherine Booth Hostels, with on-going support offered to the families once they are housed within the City. Fortnightly visits to the Refuge providing a play session and toy loan, with on-going support offered to the families once they are housed within the City. The Child Carers Toy Store based in Portsea provides professionals working with, and caring for, children across the City the ability to borrow appropriate resources to support children’s development within their care, we provide a delivery service for those unable to get to the Toy Store themselves.

What the organisation provides?

Through the Community based Toy Library sessions families come together and share ideas, concerns with each other. This support is often a very early stage of intervention and can prevent issues escalating and becoming time consuming and very expensive for the local authority. The outreach workers provide home visits, parents and carers are given advice and resources around communication through play and play development and behavioural issues. Where parents or carers have referred themselves, we initiate Common Assessment Frameworks, identifying, referring and signposting to other relevant agencies and take on the role of the lead professional. We support families to register with the dentist, doctors, attend the health clinic, and signpost them with issues around money, debt, domestic violence, housing etc. We have applied for funding donations for items needed by families including washing machines, beds, carpets, new door locks, moses basket, cot, clothing, nappies to name but a few. An online order system and delivery service is available to support those unable to get to the Toy Store to choose or collect resources, with many families ringing first for advice on ‘most appropriate toys’ to borrow.

Who can access the service?

Those identified as being hard to reach or vulnerable can be referred or self-refer for support from the outreach workers. Some of our families have very complex needs but others just need a little support to be able to become part of their local community, this support is very early intervention which stops families needing a lot of support which can be very expensive and time consuming later on. Any parent or carer with a child from pre-birth to attending school can attend a community Toy Library session. Our eligibility criteria is very simple, we take referrals from professionals and families as we recognise that what can seem like a very small issue and may not meet certain criteria for some services is often something we can give advice and support for a very short term alleviating other issues arising for the family. Through this universal method we have been able to work with families that have self-referred, which has led to a more targeted approach due to the family’s needs.

What do you expect children, young people and their families to gain from using your service?

We aim to bring local communities together so parents, carers and children can support one another and build friendships. Resources and advice to support child development will be available to parents and carers to borrow to continue play and development within the home, improving outcomes for children. Those needing additional support will be identified and offered the appropriate support, guidance and signposting to other services as required. Our outreach team will recognise that everyone’s level of support will be different so will not be time based, but for as long as is needed.

How and who to make a complaint to:

In the first Instance Karen Drayton and then to the board of trustee/directors at Connors Toy Libraries.

Contact Details for further information:

Karen Drayton

Tel: 023 9283 2926



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