North West Toy Library

Toy library survives and thrives during lockdown

The Covid lockdowns couldn’t have come at a worse time for the North West Toy Library. The group had only been up and running for nine months when the virus struck. The toy library’s ‘stay and play’ operating model couldn’t survive the restrictions. The group needed to adapt and fast.

Funding of $5,380 from the Your West Support Fund ensured the toy library’s operating costs were covered for most of lockdown. And this freed up the committee to develop the new ways of working needed to survive.

‘We used the funding to cover our operations and to upgrade computer systems to adapt to Covid,’ explains Katherine Wilson, Secretary of North West Toy Library.

According to Katherine, the funding helped set up an online click and collect service. Given the closure of schools, childcare centres and even playgrounds, this service was a lifeline for many families.

‘Our members were very grateful for the click and collect service,’ says Katherine. ‘Having new pre-loved toys to play with every couple of weeks helped parents during those difficult times working from home whilst trying to entertain the children.’

The popularity of the service has been reflected in increased membership. Since opening, the group has grown from 40 members and 300 toys to 110 members and over 750 toys! The numbers may be down on what the toy library was anticipating. However, it’s still an incredible achievement when you consider the tremendous challenges faced this year.

‘Covid-19 has had a massive impact on our service,’ reports Katherine. ‘The restrictions stopped us from offering the stay and play toy library model we had grown to love. And this impacted on the number of new members we expected this year,’ she concludes.

The many hours spent adjusting services online means the toy library is in a great position going forward.

The committee has recently set up a brand new service. Party Packs are now available for children’s birthday parties. With reusable crockery, cutlery, tables and chairs plus, of course, plenty of toys, the party packs are an innovative and sustainable solution.

‘We also have a bouncy castle for hire,’ says Katherine. ‘This extends our reach beyond our core membership base to non-members and provides another income stream.’

The future now looks bright for North West Toy Library, and The Trusts is proud to have played a small part.

You’ll find the toy library at Shop 5/9 Westgate Drive, Massey. Opening hours are Wednesday 9-11 am, Friday 9-11 am, Saturday 9-11 am and Sunday 2-4 pm. New members are always made to feel welcome, so pop along and enjoy fun times with your toddler.