Playvan group 540CF

PlayVan reaches out to North Norfolk villages 

A PlayVan operates in villages across rural North Norfolk, providing an opportunity for young children to develop and learn through constructive play.

From its early beginnings in 1999, The PlayVan project was fully established in May 2000 as a mobile facility using a caravan to transport toys and equipment. Initially it was parked on a village green or open space for the summer months and was a place where parents/carers and young people could meet.
Since 2006 it has operated three or four sessions each week in village halls and schools in rural villages.  The caravan was superseded by a trailer then, from March 2009, by a Transit van which transports play equipment to various venues across the Diocese.
It became a registered charity in July 2007, run by a board of trustees, with one employed Development worker.  It is a key part of the Diocese of Norwich's work with children, young people and families.
PlayVan aims to establish, support and encourage sustainable groups where adults and children can have fun and learn through play in an innovative and exciting way.

The PlayVan works with children primarily under statutory school age alongside parishes, by:

  • running baby and toddler groups
  • working in partnership to identify new opportunities
  • supporting and recruiting volunteers
  • linking different parts of local communities

Development worker Lesley Gurney explains what PlayVan is, and how it is benefiting local communities:

“PlayVan is exactly what it says on the tin- a van full of toys, resources and equipment for children under the age of five. The aim is to provide a safe, stimulating and secure location in rural Norfolk villages which have no childcare provisions where eventually, with support, the community can undertake this role.”
PlayVan currently provides toddler groups in Binham Memorial Hall, Baconsthorpe Village Hall, Whissonsett Village Hall and Little Walsingham Primary School. Each session is one and a half to two hours long with refreshments for parents/carers and snack time for children.
During the session children and parents are encouraged to make use of the zoned areas together, developing all of the skills necessary for children to enter into nursery or school with confidence using basic numeracy, literacy and social skills.
The group also provides a soundboard for parents to talk about any problems they may have, for example bedtime routines, potty training, behavioural issues and weaning. Parents offer support to each other, giving tips, ideas and general information.
The Development worker also provides advice and guidance when appropriate and if that is not possible then professional advice is sort from either the Children’s Centres or Health Visitor.
Playvan lego 540CFParents at the Little Walsingham group said :

  • “PlayVan is brilliant for little-uns, I don’t have to travel far, which is great as I don’t drive but I live in the village.” 
  • “I come to PlayVan sessions to help socialise my children, get out of the house and have fun.” 

PlayVan also attends Diocesan events such as the Archdeacons Charge and the Royal Norfolk Show, providing an area for children to play, get out of their pushchairs and for parents to interact with their children.
For more information, visit :
To find out more about setting up a toddler group near you, contact Lesley on
Reg Charity no. 1120601 - "Norwich Diocesan PlayVan"

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