Toy library helps parents save money 'and the planet'

Volunteers Stacy Yelland (L) and Ava Lorenc in front of rows of toys
Image caption,

Volunteers Stacy Yelland (L) and Ava Lorenc support the toy library every other Saturday at St Michael’s and All Angels Church

  • Published

The founder of Bristol's only toy library has said they want to help recycle and re-use toys in the community and alleviate costs for families.

Started in 2015 by Annie Berry, South Bristol's toy library aims to reduce waste and allow more children access to more - and sometimes expensive - toys.

The library moved to Bedminster in March this year and currently has more than 1,400 toys available.

Ms Berry said: "It can be really hard being a parent, so having a place that's effectively a giant toy shop in your community can be simple but life changing at times".

The library was set up by Ms Berry after she returned from living in New Zealand, where toy libraries are common.

Image source, Annie Berry
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Annie Berry with her daughter Amber

She received funding from Bristol European Green Capital 2015, to buy micro scooters, which parents could rent out and return ready for the next person.

"The scooters were quite expensive to buy, so it was a handy way for parents to see if their children got on with them," she said.

Working from her house, they soon raised enough money from the scheme to hire a venue on West Street, Bristol for a bigger library.

Ms Berry partnered with the St Philips recycling centre on a pilot project to rescue items back from landfill, bringing more toys into the library.

"It showed us that there's a massive amount of resources going into landfill," Ms Berry said.

"Some of those toys are still in circulation at the library now."

Since then the library's main cause has been to inspire parents and carers to reuse and recycle toys.

Image source, Annie Berry
Image caption,

A car load of items destined for landfill from the St Philips recycling centre

The library currently has 688 children using the toys, with 140 active members and 260 loans since January this year.

On average the team said it will see 50 parents and children attending each session.

Stacy Yelland, who oversees the library after Ms Berry stepped back in 2019, said people use it to support the environment, take out toys that they might not have the space for at home or be able to afford, and allow children to pick non-gender specific toys.

Library volunteer Ava Lorenc, a member of climate group 'Mum's rebellion', added: "It amazes me that more people don't use libraries in general - they're free.

"And we need to stop buying plastic toys."

The toy library is open every other Saturday from 10:00 until 12:00 at St Michael’s and All Angels Church.

Membership per family is £15 for the year, with the library offering reduced prices if required.

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