The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Bishop of Lynn blesses newly donated PlayVan 

The Bishop of Lynn has blessed an anonymously donated PlayVan which will add to the work of a Christian charity which brings mobile playgroups to rural communities across Norfolk that have no existing childcare provision.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, Bishop of Lynn visited Walsingham Primary School on Wednesday, July 6 and paid tribute to the excellent work that PlayVan does across the Diocese of Norwich and thanked Lesley Gurney, the charity’s development worker, for all her hard work.
Bishop Jonathan said: “It was a joy to bless the PlayVan during my visit to Walsingham Primary School. The PlayVan provides an invaluable service facilitating playgroups which gives parents, carers and guardians, as well as their children , space to grow and develop in a friendly environment and usually then connects them with their local school.”

The PlayVan is a van full of toys, resources and equipment for children under the age of five. Although part of the work of the Diocese of Norwich, the PlayVan is a separate charity with a board of trustees and one employed development worker.

The idea behind the van 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 take this role on.

Robert Culyer, Chairman of the PlayVan trustees, said: "The PlayVan is totally dependent upon charitable donations. To receive this magnificent gift from an anonymous donor shows the value placed upon the work that the PlayVan carries out. We are so grateful to this donor and to the other trusts that help us to provide this much needed facility."

One of the locations that the PlayVan visits is Walsingham Primary School. Mr Marshall Schaitel, senior teacher at the school, said: "the PlayVan doesn’t just visit our school, it is a vital part of our whole school life. Every week an excited group of young children join us. This provides an excellent stepping stone for the children to become part of our school."

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.

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.

PlayVan also currently works in the Norfolk communities of Binham, Hindringham and Walsingham.  

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