Little Squeakers is our baby and toddler group that came out of the need for a term time group for the people who came to Make Lunch. St Mary’s church Great Chart and Singleton had been running a lovely toddler group at Great Chart village hall on Wednesday mornings for years, but for various reasons attendance had dwindled and it was no longer viable to be kept open. When we noticed the many mums with young children at Make Lunch, we decided that a group at St Francis would be the perfect location. Did you know that St Francis is often depicted with doves and that a baby dove is called a squeaker? That is where our lovely group name refers to and also children make squeaky noises too.

We were very sad to have to close in 2020/21 for lockdowns and we tried staying in touch with our mums via our Facebook page.

When restrictions lifted and support group for parents with babies were allowed, we did an extensive risk assessment and invited some mums with non-mobile babies to attend our baby group. They really appreciated our efforts to make them feel safe and welcome and valued being able to meet other mums who had given birth during a global pandemic to share their experiences with.

Now that we are allowed a bigger number of adults attending we have managed to open up a baby and toddler group again. Obviously we had to change our set up to adhere to Covid guidelines. However our parents attending have been so grateful for being able to come to a group where it is almost back to ‘normal’

Last year we received a grant from One Stop Shop and we managed to buy some lovely new, durable toys for the parents and children to play together with. We also received a grant from Beaver Ward councillor Lyn Suddards with which we bought our amazing wooden climbing frame and slide, which is a big hit with the children. We are so grateful for the financial support we received as we try to keep the cost for attending to a £1 donation to make it affordable for everyone. Lots of mums/parents find it tricky to pay for termly classes and we can offer them a great opportunity to socialise and for the children to burn off some energy.

We are currently operating from in the church as we are eagerly awaiting the finishing of the new kitchen in the hall so we can serve our refreshments and snacks from in there.

We love to spread God’s love for the parents and children in Ashford with each hot drink we serve and each smile we give them and the many songs we sing at the end of the session.

We have been immensely popular and because we had to introduce a booking system to be able to limit numbers beforehand, we are almost completely fully booked already all the way up until the summer holidays, with quite a long waiting list for every session as well.

Prayers much appreciated for the smooth running of our lovely group and for all our parents and children to stay healthy.