Toy library celebrates its first anniversary

The drop-in and borrowing service has 100 users.

Adam Echhaibi, 2, tries out an interactive play panel at the toy library

A council-run centre which provides play and care facilities for children is celebrating the first anniversary of its successful toy library, which now has about 100 registered users.

The toy library provides a drop-in and borrowing service at the Distillery centre, in Distillery Lane, Hammersmith, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10.30am and 12.30pm during term-time. Parents or carers of children aged under five can browse through the catalogue of more than 100 toys with their children and choose what they want for loan and play at home. Children can try out the toys during the sessions and items can be borrowed for up to a month. The stock includes puzzles, construction toys, toy musical instruments and toys suitable for children with special educational needs.

A variety of arts and crafts activities also run during the toy library sessions, when children also try out some of the other new facilities at the Distillery centre, including:


- Multi-sensory room with soft play equipment, visual and tactile toys, including fibre optic tubes, a musical panel for children to press and trigger up to 200 different sounds as well as a projector with rotating coloured discs - excellent relaxing play, especially for disabled children or mothers and babies.
- Ball room. A soft-walled space full of balls for up to four children aged under eight to play in at a time.
- Sensory garden. An outdoor area, featuring plants and grass selected for their texture, smell and sound.

Other initiatives at the Distillery centre include dance and music tuition, sessions for children with special educational needs, regular visits by the Sure Start Broadway librarian, as well as Sure Start baby massage and speech & language therapy sessions.

The centre is among six which were established by the council in April 2001 following a review of the play service in the borough. The other five centres are the White City and Coningham centres, both in W12; Bradmore and Fulham Cross centres, in W6, and Castle, in SW6.

During term-time the Distillery centre offers after-school care, learning and play facilities for schoolchildren aged five to 12. Childcare and an exciting range of activities are also provided during school holidays. The service also runs at four school-based centres. Distillery was one of eight centres to receive the top 'good' rating from Ofsted in recent inspection reports. Two centres have yet to be quality inspected.

Lauren See, manager of the Distillery centre, said: "It has been a really good year for the Distillery centre. The toy library has gone from strength to strength and the extra facilities have added a new dimension to the service we provide. The toys and equipment help children's physical and educational development and are great fun. The multi-sensory room is a positive environment for mothers and their babies or children with additional needs."

The borough's mayor, Cllr Charlie Treloggan, who joined parents, carers and their children at today's toy library celebration, said: "Our improved play service is responding to the needs of all children in the community and their parents or carers. These are fantastic new facilities which have helped children, including those with a range of needs, to get the most out of learning and playing at the centre.

Our play service is providing high quality, professional facilities and care, with eight out of ten centres recently gaining the top 'good' rating in their Ofsted inspections."

For general inquiries about out-of-school care and activities phone 020 8753 3786 or visit the council's website

Parents or carers who want to find out if they are entitled to help with the cost of childcare, nursery and play services through the government's tax credits scheme can phone 0845 300 3900 or visit

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