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Wiltshire Toy Library Appeals For New Home

26/08/2010

The volunteer staff at Chippenham Toy Library in Wiltshire are appealing for a new home for the threatened community service.

By James Tweedie

The library, founded in 1976, currently occupies a rented space in the Parklands sheltered housing scheme on Malmesbury Road.

But landlord Westlea Housing Association is closing the housing estate, claiming that is outdated, and has told the library that it must find a new home by September 30.

Library chairman Abby Adamczuk is appealing to local residents to help find a new home for the service, which lends out toys, games and children's puzzles in much the same way as a normal library lends books.

Ms Adamczuk said: "We are really, really desperate to find somewhere else to go.

"If we don't find suitable premises by then I will be left with no alternative but to close the toy library.

She added: "I see closure as a last resort but it is proving very difficult to find what we need as a price we can afford.

"The library is a very popular and well used service reaching families in Chippenham, the surrounding area and as far as Malmesbury."

Local mum Caren Horton and her three year-old son Phoenix are regular users of the toy library.

She said that it was useful to borrow toys for a short time as children quickly outgrow them.

"If we were to lose the service, it would be incredibly disappointing for the children," Ms Horton said.

"It's like a treat for them each month to come down and choose new toys. It's like Christmas, they love it."

Lucy Whitfield also takes her three-year-old daughter Verity to the library. She said: "It would definitely be a big loss if the library were to close.

"It's a really useful resource. When Verity was very little we borrowed a Jumparoo baby exerciser which was great because it was too big for us to keep in the house permanently."

A Westlea Housing Association spokesman said that residents have gradually been moving to new accommodation of their choice since 2007 with support from Westlea and other agencies, including Age Concern, and that almost all had now left the scheme.

"As a local organisation with a strong community focus, Westlea is supporting efforts to find the toy library a new home," he said.

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