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Setting up a toddler group - help!

(13 Posts)
mummybear25 Fri 22-Jul-11 12:40:33

Hello, a couple of friends and I are taking over our village toddler group. We have inherited some funds, some toys and equipment. We are having to relocate so need to buy some new equipment and toys on top of the general stuff like craft materials, snacks, hall rent etc.

Do you know of any grants that help cover this sort of thing?

Do you know if we need their own insurance on top of the cover the hall has?

Many thanks

Snackalot Wed 03-Aug-11 16:03:52

Hi mummybear, I'm trying to set up a toddler group in our village as well. It'll be good to hear how you get on.

We have had some encouragement i.e. promise of hall rental for a couple of months to start us off; from our local Children's Centre (Sure-Start type of thing). Do you have anything like that near you?

I'm not sure about insurance, first aid, health and safety in general, CRB checks, etc... but am finding out - will let you know what I discover!

One tip I was given is to make a Risk Assessment document.

Good luck! smile

inmysparetime Mon 08-Aug-11 07:53:00

I took over leadership of a local toddler group when my kids were small. We got money from Argos(£40) and Tesco(£500), try local supermarkets and shops websites as most have a "corporate responsibility" section of their website. The preschool learning alliance have a very helpful website, and "care for the family" have a publication on setting up toddler groups for about £6 last time I looked.
Ikea do cheap yet sturdy equipment if you're strapped for cash. They do a king size counterpane that's a great size for a mat for babies to play on, but fits in the washing machine when inevitably one spews on it!

Northernlurkerisgoingonholiday Mon 08-Aug-11 08:15:39

HAve you approached the village church? Sometimes churches are keen to raise their profile by working with families and may be able to offer limited financial support.

Snackalot Mon 15-Aug-11 21:42:24

Thanks Inmy and Northern, that's useful advice. I have indeed looked at the pre-school alliance website. Very helpful, but it is slowly dawning on me that it's not quite as easy as just telling people turn up at a certain place at a certain time!
Our local church is very small, I doubt they have any spare cash. I can see the todder group fundraising for the church eventually!

tortilla Wed 17-Aug-11 17:04:10

Are you talking about a preschool type where the children are left or just a playgroup where the parents stay? If the latter maybe talk to your local NCT. I run the playgroup for our local NCT - hardly any attendees are members but that doesn't matter as it can't be restricted due to NCT charitable status, and I'm not sure all parents realise it is NCT run. It means all the insurance type admin type stuff is taken care of and I just focus on booking the hall, banking the cash, making teas and chatting with the parents. However, main thing then is that the spare cash goes to the NCT to fund their charitable aims rather than being controlled by yourselves - may or may not be a good thing in your view. NCT is often short of volunteers to run these things - we're looking to co-run a playgroup in another local village with the local church because it is mutually beneficial to do so - we want to have another playgroup which they can provide and NCT can provide the umbrella support like marketing and services like breastfeeding support to them.

Snackalot Fri 19-Aug-11 17:46:30

tortilla thank you, NCT was on my list of places to approach, but if they will organise everything, that sounds perfect and I shall seek them out! Parents definitely will be staying.

mummybear25 Our borough council website has details of grants. Also I've asked the parish council. Sadly in this day and age, there's not much spare cash available.

DandyDan Thu 22-Sep-11 09:22:03

Ask charitable organisations in your town - Lions, Rotary/Round Table, Grand Order of Buffaloes etc - and any local big businesses which sometimes have a charity pot for local concerns. Do check with the local church though - although they may seem cash-strapped and very likely are, there are some churches which have "charitable trust" money (dating back to when folk a couple of centuries ago left money for specific purposes - so work with children, the relief of poverty etc), which can only be spent on specific things and not on general church finances. One trust local to me gives out about £1000+ each year to a couple of causes, but you have to apply in writing.

As for setting-up tips, the Pre-School Learning Alliance has a lot of info and will also sometimes send someone to chat with you personally, if you wish. SureStart will possibly be of some help. If you are running it independently, you will need to have your constitution and finance set up well, and will need a separate bank account, treasurer and also an independent auditor for your books each year.

If the parents are remaining with their children at all times, it is not necessary to have CRB checks, though if you happen to have one anyway, it's a useful thing to be able to advertise; similarly with any First Aid training: SureStart will run these sorts of things occasionally.

smileitssunny Thu 06-Oct-11 17:25:26

Thanks DandyDan. I have an appointment on Monday to discuss application for funding with a small local charity.

SureStart have been fabulous, and are supporting me in many ways including funding, staff and equipment.

To run it independently, do I Really need constitution and committee? Is that a legal requirement? At the moment it's just me. I'd like to think I'll get volunteers to help, but it's not guaranteed. Even to get separate bank account I need another person, and not my husband. I don't really know who to ask to join me in this.

inmysparetime Fri 07-Oct-11 07:32:56

You don't need a constitution and a committee, that's only for playgroups, but a constitution might help you access further funding. Give it a few months on your own and see if anyone attending looks like they could help you run it if it gets bigger, or if you need a week off. Then you'd have your bank account partner.

scotgirl Fri 07-Oct-11 07:47:43

Yes you do need insurance it is very important. We are in Scotland so bought ours through the Scottish PresSchool Play association SPPA ( As well as insurance they could also come and help you set up a committee. There will be a similar organisation in your area (you could call SPPA they will prob know).

I ran one for over a year. Here is what I learned...
Costs - be realistic. You need to coveryour weekly cost: hall, insurance, food - work it out. This equated for us to about £15-£20 a week. We charged £2 a family. However, we had an emphasis on quality - kids got a good snack - apple juice, pancake fruit. Every week we did a craft project to take home (parents felt they got something tangible from the group). Must have worked as we were very popular - had to limit numbers to 25!

Our fees covered our breakeven costs - we fundraised to buy toys/ pay for Christmas party.

Think about a structure - 2 hrs of free play is boring for mums and lots of kids. Think about having a craft table alongside free play, break for song time, snack time, free play, tidy up! Worked for us! Mums said they really liked a group with structure, kids got to know it very quickly and all anticipated snack time!

Set up a committee or you will do everything yourself! (though you might need to to get if off the ground!)

Good luck - it will be a fair bit of work but very rewarding!

smileitssunny Mon 10-Oct-11 14:13:54

Thanks inmysparetime and scotgirl
Darn. Had just about decided against insurance. Ofsted weren't interested and said it was up to me. To join preschool play association and buy insurance would cost me £100. I don't have that much to spare upfront!

If it looks like it will be a success then I'll look again. I am charging £2 per family, it looks like our costs are similar scotgirl.

I was thinking of free play but with several different activities available for 40 mins, then snack time and storytime whilst all sitting down.

Activities in the first session: - water play, play with pasta shells, dressing up box, art/craft area with colouring and sticking coloured paper.
Does that sound reasonable? I could add a playdough area perhaps.
Unfortunately I only have 15 mins to set up, and 15 mins to clear away at the end, due to the (expensive) cost of hall hire!

Really appreciate your input. Thank you!

smileitssunny Mon 10-Oct-11 14:14:21

oh the session itself is only 1 hour.

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