for children with disabilities

1976 Hounslow Toy Library first opened on 3rd November, 1976 with a few shelves of toys and the enthusiasm of a few professionals and parents who wanted to improve the lives of children with disabilities in Hounslow. Parkway School in Cranford offered support and so the first home of the Toy Library was there. Every month parents of disabled children made their way to Parkway school for the toy library session. There was always a talk, discussion or film and then a quick dash to change toys while the helpers played with the children. Over the early years the Toy Library grew and soon it was clear we would need a new home.

For a while the toys were stored in the basement of the Treaty Hall (now the Treaty Centre). Each month someone would chaperone the parents down to the dark basement to change their toys!!!!!

1979  Luckily someone at the Youth Centre in Kingsley Road, Hounslow heard of our plight and offered us the use of their garage, for storing the toys, and their large meeting room once a month. So we happily moved there and the membership grew again. 

1981  Then we were offered a large room, an ex-lab in the old Smallberry Green School (which had been the even older Syon School for boys). At the time the school was being used as an intensive language school for secondary age children new to Hounslow. It was also the Music School. We settled in after much painting and decorating and the Toy Library began to flourish once again. It was here that a second session began on a Thursday afternoon. We also held a monthly evening session for older children.

1987 At Smallberry Green the Borough gave us our first grant for an Administrator, recognising the supportive and preventative work that was being done for families who had a disabled child.

Things were going from strength to strength but then the building was demolished and we were resettled in Hounslow Manor School. Unfazed, we once again redecorated and made ready a new lab and re-opened in style to be told only a few months later that the wing we occupied was to be demolished. By now we had realised the advantages of being in central Hounslow and so were determined to stay.

1993 Unable to find us any suitable accommodation, we moved into a small house in Holloway Street (that was condemned and on the demolition list!!!!).  It was time to plan and take radical steps to secure a more permanent base for the Toy Library. So we set upon a major fund-raising initiative spearheaded by a parent. Over the next two years we raised around £200,000 and built the purpose built centre we are in today. We remain eternally grateful for the donations we received both great and small and the enthusiastic community involvement.  

1996 It was with great pride and much excitement that we opened our own Toy Library in 1996. 

The Toy Library has grown in so many ways. We now have over 200 members, 4,000 toys, hold sessions for groups from special schools and units, are well used by professionals working with disabled children, are included in the training of medical students, sit on various Borough Committees, help families, etc. 

During the year we celebrate festivals, birthdays, hold social events, have a Christmas party and we open all year round including the summer holidays. 

1997/2000 The garden was the next project and the children have enjoyed playing outside on the safe surface and also enjoying the sensory garden with its raised beds, seating areas and water feature.
Indoors we had training in First Aid, Hazards, and PQASSO (a Quality Assurance programme). We also had a storage area created.

2001/2002 saw us setting up an "information for parents" area and installing a much needed changing bed in one of the toilets, thereby improving access for children with more complex needs.

2003/2004 A parent suggested a poetry writing opportunity and as the response was so good we had a book "That's How It Is" published. We also held a successful and emotional poetry evening.
For the first time we had Christmas cards, designed by the children, printed. We sold these cards to raise funds.

2005 Hounslow Toy Library was the front page of the borough's HM magazine.
We built a shed in the garden for extra storage and a Wendy House for the children. We bought a database designed especially for Toy Libraries and updated our internal signage using pictures.

2006/2007 We revamped the water feature and as one of the trees had to be felled we had a seat installed. We ran the usual sessions and held a summer picnic for families and a meal at a local Nepalese restaurant for adults.

2008 A visit to the Toy Library became part of the community paediatric programme foe 5th year medical students. We also set up this website. But more exciting for the children was the new ball pool.

2009 To communicate better with our families the Practitioners took a BSL course and both passed Level 1. We also updated our leaflet and started translating it into other languages.

2010 We were able to give to our members an outing to Taplow adventure playground for children with disabilities - a great success.

2011 A busy, busy year as the garden had a make-over. It is now grassy, has a house, water feature, bike track, willow tunnel, talking tubes, chalkboards etc. We also had new outdoor toys and clothing.
The Toy Library also became a Limited Company.

2012 A year of celebration. Jubilee street parties, a family picnic, events for the retiring Practitioners and the new Practitioners and the Olympics. We also installed a canopy so as to make better use of the outside area in all weathers.

We now have over 400 members and over 4,000 toys.We still hold sessions for groups from special schools and units, and we are continually used by professionals working with disabled children.

To raise the £15,000+ we need each year is difficult but we will continue with this as we know the difference our service makes to the disabled children in Hounslow.