The flowers are beginning to bloom, there is a warmth in the breeze and there are the sounds of children playing at school again. It is all starting to feel more hopeful, isn't it? We are really thrilled to have started up drop-in play sessions again in the gardens at St Johns. It is wonderful to be able to offer our unique brand of play and support to local families again.

Claire's story is so typical of many of our parents, arriving as a nervous and slightly sceptical Mum and then staying for the warmth and friendship they found at our centre. Here is her story....

"As a new mum with severe Post Natal Depression and no local family, I spent the first year of my son’s life with the women I had met on a birth preparation course, but when almost all of them returned to work, it was time to start a new routine.

My local centre was always busy, and the sessions they offered were great, but it was mostly used by childminders, and they didn’t mix with the mums who attended.

A woman that I had met only once before asked if I knew about the Hoxton playgroup that’s “pretty nice, but a bit old”, and I agreed to meet her there the following week.

I can still remember walking into the building and being hit by a wall of noise – the sound of adults trying to hold a conversation over the top of excited toddler babbles and squawks. There were toys EVERYWHERE, ... I don’t think I had even taken it all in before I was greeted with a warm smile, told it was lovely to have me there, and had my baby assessed as “absolutely gorgeous”.

I was told the things I needed to know  - where the loo was, where I could put my pram when I was ready, and then came the question that I didn’t expect “Can we get you a cup of tea or coffee?”. ... I gladly accepted. This was obviously a place where parents were cared for, and that’s how we ended up attending multiple times each week.

Ivy Street taught me more about community than anywhere else before or since, and how common values build strong bonds.

When it was time for my son to move onto the next step, I realised that although he was keen to be at nursery, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Ivy Street, so I came back as a volunteer. Being that welcoming person felt like a great way to honour all that I had been given in terms of support, and to be part of the history of this long-running hidden gem embedded in the heart of the community.

Later, I seized the chance to apply for a post there, first as Administrator, and now as Centre Manager. It is so hard to imagine my life without Ivy Street – it has influenced so much of my life, my family life, and my relationship with my neighbourhood.

It is a great metaphor for life – loud, messy, a bit bedraggled, but full of hope and joy if you allow yourself to be swept up in the magic."

We will be forever grateful to that Mum who invited Claire to come along to Ivy Street!

Thank you for all your support, we love to hear from our supporters to do please leave a comment or send us an email.

Happy post-lockdown to you all.