Inspirational Croston parents prepare to open 'family friendly' space in new craft cafe

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A couple from Croston are using their challenges and experiences as parents during the Covid-19 pandemic to open a new community café and 'safe space' for parents in Leyland.

Holly and Steven Nicholson-Wrigley found themselves struggling to manage time working from home and looking after their three-year-old toddler Pippa when the first lockdown was introduced.

The couple, who live in Croston, found themselves wanting to spend more time playing with their daughter and dreamt up 'The Play Pantry', designing and creating eco-friendly play packs for children to do with their parents at home.

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But their ideas didn't stop there, as mum Holly spoke of her difficult experiences taking daughter Pippa out to cafes and how she was "embarrassed and uncomfortable" when she cried or needed to breastfeed in public.

Croston couple Steven and Holly and their daughter PippaCroston couple Steven and Holly and their daughter Pippa
Croston couple Steven and Holly and their daughter Pippa

Set to open in eight weeks time, 'The Pantry' on Hough Lane is the latest forward-thinking business idea by the couple, who's mission was to create a new safe space for parents and the community to enjoy.

Mum Holly, 35, who previously worked in the public sector, said: "We are both super passionate about this project and it is bringing something brand new and exciting to Leyland which we can't wait to open to the community.

"Working from home with a toddler was so challenging, especially when the pandemic just turned everyone's lives upside down. It was so hard for us to work and look after her with no support, and we found ourselves wanting to keep spending quality time with her instead of just giving her toys to play with.

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"We had first developed the Play Pantry during the lockdown after ages of banging our heads against a wall and trying to entertain our little one. I had looked at other parent powered businesses and that is how we developed it to begin with.

The new cafe will open up on Hough Lane, LeylandThe new cafe will open up on Hough Lane, Leyland
The new cafe will open up on Hough Lane, Leyland

"I found that not having a huge support network as a parent meant I felt so lonely when I was off with our daughter. I would go to a cafe but she would get bored within a few minutes and I felt like all eyes were on me.

"It was super stressful just getting out of the house with her. We want to take that experience and create a community hub of absolute inclusivity."

Working with local illustrators, Holly and Steven set up the Play Pantry Instagram page, which soon amassed thousands of followers and began getting floods of messages from parents across the country who were using the products.

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But it was Holly's "lonely and isolating" experience as a mum on maternity leave that gave the couple the drive to design their latest business plan and create a family-friendly cafe that welcomes all members of the community and encourages mums to openly breastfeed.

Holly with her daughter Pippa said she was "embarrassed" and "lonely" when caring for her daughter PippaHolly with her daughter Pippa said she was "embarrassed" and "lonely" when caring for her daughter Pippa
Holly with her daughter Pippa said she was "embarrassed" and "lonely" when caring for her daughter Pippa

The venue will be a fully functioning food and drink premises, but will also offer craft areas for children, bookshelves and a 'skill swap' notice board where people can share their hobbies with one another.

Steven said: "We wanted to be as realistic as possible. We are real parents ourselves and we know how hard it can be to just juggle your life around your child. We wanted to really create a support network of parents sharing stories and being together.

"It was important for us to take the elements that we loved about the parent community in the virtual world and anchor it into a community that we know and love.

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"It is perfect for parents who want to have play dates, for lunches or people that just want a space that offers something different and a totally new experience. It will help local mums link up and feel like they can just be themselves - we know babies will cry and drinks will get spilled.

Dad Steven with daughter PippaDad Steven with daughter Pippa
Dad Steven with daughter Pippa

"We were struck by how empty that area of town is and we had spoken to so many locals who told us that the area needed a cafe. It is a great reason for people to come down to this end of town and also support other local businesses too.

"After all the regeneration the town has seen, it is what Leyland deserves. It is an amazing town and it deserves people to keep investing in it."

The new cafe, at 61 Hough Lane, is expected to open within the next eight weeks, with updates regularly being posted to The Pantry Facebook page or website.

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