Saturday, 14 December 2013

Latest visit to Kids Co

Earlier in the year I posted about my vist to Kids Co at their Kenbury Street premises.  You can read about the visit here.  Today I just wanted to share my latest visit to KidsCo in London which was such a buzz.

A friend and I caught the train up to London Blackfriars and then changed trains to get one to Loughborough Junction where we were met by “S”. She is a lovely person but unfortunately it will be the last time we meet as “S” is going to work in Italy in the New Year. A couple of years ago they kindly showed us around the Headquarters where we saw the work areas there and also saw all the volunteers wrapping Christmas presents and preparing food parcels to be given out for Christmas.

We were taken to the Morgan Stanley Heart Yard;  about 10 minutes walk from the station and was our first stop. This is in Lambeth and appeared to be a very run down area; dirty grey buildings on dirty grey streets. Little sign of love and care in these parts but the Kids Co building on the outside is a clean, newly painted, light grey. I tried to ignore the steel shutter that would cover the front door when the centre is closed but it is a stark reminder of how the area must be in the dark evenings and night. It is quite a small building and is mainly used as a therapy centre with areas for different therapists upstairs. Downstairs where we were met, the walls were painted a lovely blue with trees and leaves. It looked so bright and cheerful. At the back of the building was a small kitchen where they prepare food and an indoor children's play area. Cooking and eating, yoga and art are just some of the activities the children can join in. They are now working on improving the outdoor area that has walls painted brightly so that it doesn't looked like a walled back garden. Children of all ages are booked into therapy sessions and sometimes parents too so that they can cope better with their children. They have sessions downstairs where Mums can visit with their little ones and they get the chance of contact with others. These Mums come from grimy flats, sometimes highrise blocks of flats and sometimes rows of dingy buildings with nowhere outside for kid's to play except the streets, which are busy. I am sure you can imagine similar areas in towns local to you; streets of deprivation........

I have painted a grim picture but one with hope in the middle. We were welcomed with such appreciation as we walked in the door . My friend had two big bags and I had my backpack full and one of those huge laundry bags full. The staff were like children at Christmas!! The toys made a huge impression as my friend had a bagful as well as the ones I had taken that were made either by myself or another friend from Worcs. They took them all out and piled them on cushions on a sofa and they covered the back of it. This photo just shows some of the knitted toys most of which are my friend's; the bags of knitted clothes are on the floor.
 

 They were going to wrap the the toys as presents for Christmas. Jumpers, hats, scarves etc were taken out and exclaimed over and they said they would be so welcome by the kids and they enjoy handing clothes out when they were needed and then seeing the kids wearing them when they come back on other days. A cup of coffee, a sit down and a photoshoot later we were then going to be taken by “S” to see a surprise. We left these folks with memories of beaming faces and such huge appreciation that I really wish I could have bottled it and sent to all the knitters of the donations I took up.

We walked about 10 minutes away and into an Adventure Playround in Loughborough Park which is a very new project for Kids Co. Lambeth Council have recently stopped this service to its residents and Kids Co have now taken it over. The building is painted in the same colours as other centres; it seems to be a trademark for their buildings. They are slowly making changes to both the building and the grounds outside. They have fenced off the teenager's area from the one used by the little ones. They have a volunteer gardener who is designing new and fun areas that are aided by planting of new seedlings and shrubs. There is a terraced area for Mum's to sit and socialise whilst watching their little ones on equipment in the garden. On the teenager's side they have beds prepared for the children to grow flowers, herbs and veggies. Inside there is an area for the little ones to do the usual range of activities and also a small kitchen where they can cook with the playleaders and parents. The older ones also have a kitchen area as well as table tennis and other teenage activities. The leader there was so enthusiastic about what they intended doing and again was delighted with some of the little toys which would be used in the little ones area.

The workers were all so grateful that we have cared enough to spend our time knitting and for us to take it to them rather than take it to the headquarters. We have an open invitation to return!! In turn we came away feeling fulfilled and with a new enthusiasm to make more and more for them.