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Play Café community in Princes Risborough

After the height of the pandemic, St Mary’s Church, Princes Risborough, identified that there was a need for a free space for local parents and their young children and babies to meet and build a connected community.

Inside of St Mary's Church, the floor is laid with multi coluored soft play mats and soft play equipmentWith the help of a grant from the local council, the church was able to purchase soft play mats, toys, and baby gyms to launch a weekly Play Café. The group was started by the then Curate and the Children and Families worker at the church, and after they relocated, Lucy Horton, stepped in to continue running the toddler group with a group of dedicated volunteers.

More than 30 parents, grandparents, and their under 5’s gather each Tuesday morning. There is space for the children to play, take part in craft activities and sing songs and read a story, parents can chat together with hot drinks. The group has reached around 150 families since it started with most of these non-church-going families.

Lucy shares more about the impact of the group:

“The feedback we’ve had about how important the Play Café has been to local families has been really encouraging. People are really grateful to have a local space in their town that they can come to for free and be together with other young families. In particular, following the pandemic when many parents with young children and babies were quite isolated and missed out on the chance to meet together form those connections with one another.”

“It’s been lovely to be able to offer the church as an open door and to see families coming back. We don’t see the same group of people every week either so it’s really exciting for us as a church that we are growing connections with so many of our neighbours.”

The group has provided opportunities for the church volunteers to invite parents and families along to other church events. Parent and toddler groups can play a key role in faith formation. Lucy reflects on the opportunities the Play Café has created for developing new discipleship journeys with the families:

“The nature of the group being in a church and run by volunteers means people can see that the church is there for them. We have had families joining other events at the church from attending the play café, such as messy church and our Reconnect services which were designed to be a stepping stone back into church after the pandemic for families.

“We hope that as we continue to welcome people and build relationships with families that they will encounter Jesus and that it leads into other avenues for us to share the Christian faith with them.”

Children, young people & families

The team of Discipleship Enablers exists to support engagement between children, young people, and families within the church, community, and local schools across the diocese. Working with the Disciples Together vision and strategy, the team have a heart and passion for this ministry. Find out more and get in touch with the Discipleship Enablers.

Page last updated: Tuesday 18th April 2023 11:47 AM
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