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Library pioneers have lent toys to East End kids for 30 years

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:10 05 October 2010

Toys galore... but this toddler is more interested in biscuits!

Toys galore... but this toddler is more interested in biscuits!

A LIBRARY which pioneered lending toys to children in deprived families in London’s East End has reached its landmark 30th birthday. Many of the original toddlers from 1979 are now raising their own families

By Mike Brooke

A LIBRARY which pioneered lending toys to children in deprived families in London's East End has reached its landmark 30th birthday.

The first Toyhouse Library opened its doors to families in Shadwell in 1979. Many of the original toddlers are now raising their own families.

The voluntary organisation has grown today into a major institution with a network of 60 toy libraries serving 5,000 families across Tower Hamlets, Britain's third-most deprived borough.

It marked its three decades with a conference for 125 delegates from all over the country, held at St Paul's Church in Mile End last Wednesday.

Speakers included Dr Suzanne Zeedyk explaining her research into how parents' smiles help develop a baby's brain, Sir Richard Bowlby on why children need fathers, and Tower Hamlets Children's Services advisor Lesley Staggs on the importance of playing.

The Toyhouse charity also runs play sessions, child health clinics and a mobile service of 'home' visits to isolated families unable to get out on top of lending out toys.


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