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It was great to visit Babyzone Croydon and to see all the innovative work they are doing to support parents and the community. They are charity which support families providing activities and spaces for parents to bring their babies and todlers. Babyzone is based on the Onside Youth Zone model, which gives children and young people a space to go to access activities and develop their potential.

The Head of Babyzone Croydon, Jessica Barnaschone, showed us around the activities available for parents at the centre. There are activities available for parents throughout the day, whenever they could turn up and however long they could stay for. Alongside a range of activities for babies and toddlers, there was a sensory room, reading lessons, and other charities in the building using the space to support children and parents.

As Babyzone shares the same building space as Legacy Youth Zone it was also an opportunity to look around all the things that are available to older children, from eight onwards after the school day. The CEO of Legacy Youth Zone, Barnabas Shelbourne and the Chair of Legacy Youth Zone, Kathryn Morley showed us around the range of things that the centre offers children and young people. It was great to see the sports hall, gym, homework space, kitchen, art room, music room, dance centre, climbing wall and even outside football pitch! Clearly, Youth Zone has something to offer all the children that come into the building, providing a space for them to go enjoy themselves and learn.

Both Babyzone and Youth Zone undoubtedly have a massive impact in the community. with Clifford Hilderly, the Manager of the Croydon Gangs Team and Youth Service, and Shelley Davis the Director of Education for Croydon Council speaking about how popular both of them are and the impact they have for parents, children, and young people. The plans to expand Babyzone across the country will help to improve the early years offer, with both Lara Mindenhall and Josie Filmer are driving that mission!

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