News Walthamstow

Popular charity re-launches after being forced out of old home

The respite will only last until September next year
By Victoria Munro

Children playing at the launch event earlier this month (credit: Philip Atkinson)
Children playing at the launch event earlier this month (credit: Philip Atkinson)

A popular children’s charity which has served Walthamstow for almost half a century has secured a new temporary base after being forced out of its long-term home.

In November 2020, the Echo reported the Walthamstow Toy Library had been told to either cough up nearly £100,000 a year in rent or leave their home in Ravenswood Road.

For 47 years, the charity has supported the children of the borough’s most vulnerable families, offering play sessions, toy loaning, and other support services.

Thankfully, NHS Property Services has now offered them a home in Hurst Road to use until September next year, with the charity holding its launch event earlier this month.

(credit: Philip Atkinson)

Toy Library director Helen Crockford told the Echo their new home is “brilliant” but that she found it “slightly ironic” their old base is still empty months after they were told to leave.

She said: “To be honest, in a way, this was really the best thing for us. We had actually outgrown that space and now we have probably double the room and are able to do so much more.

“We are continuing to run our daily play sessions and can finally have a designated toy library: a whole room full of toys people can just wander around and choose what they want to borrow. Having two rooms also means we can have a couple of things going on at the same time.

“Thankfully, NHS Property Services had this empty building and love what we do; they actually felt we fit in with their social prescribing model. We were also lucky to have incredible support from [MP] Stella Creasy and our ward councillors.”

(credit: Philip Atkinson)

Joining the Walthamstow Toy Library costs £12 for most families and nothing at all for those on low incomes, making it “affordable and inclusive for everyone”.

Despite their housing difficulties, the charity was able to open a new Leytonstone Toy Library in the Langthorne Park Pavilion last July.

In the future, Helen said they are determined to stay somewhere central in Walthamstow and are hoping a space could be made for them in one of the new developments being built in the area.

The charity is also raising funds to create a sensory playroom for children with special needs and to buy suitable toys for its Leytonstone location. You can donate online here.