Morpeth’s first role play centre for young children has opened its doors with the help of a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.
Little Morpeth offers a 1,200 sq ft play space which features a number of different themed areas that are loosely based on locations within the town and that are equipped with all the costumes, toys and accessories required for imaginative play.
Located on the town’s Grange Road, the business has been set up by qualified teacher Steffanie Parrott after she decided she wanted to offer new play facilities to local families and realised there were no similar facilities to what she had imagined anywhere further north in Northumberland.
The £18,000 Small Loan Fund investment, which was obtained through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, has supported the fit out of the new attraction and will also help with recruitment and marketing activity around the launch.
Three new jobs have been created at the new venue, with more expected to follow as it gets fully established, while in the longer term, Steffanie is potentially looking to open similar facilities in other North East locations.
Little Morpeth’s ‘mini town’ features locations including a supermarket, fire station, police station, vet practice, a construction site and a nursery.
A baby sensory area has also been created for very young children, along with a reading corner featuring a tepee, and a café area offering a place where parents, carers and grandparents can watch their little ones.
Steffanie Parrott says: “Imaginative play is an absolutely essential part of children’s development and the facilities we’re providing offer every opportunity for young imaginations to run wild.
“Little Morpeth offers a safe, fun environment in which children can create their own stories while giving adults somewhere comfortable to relax while they’re watching, and because there are so many different options available, it allows kids of different ages to enjoy themselves in the same space.
“Little Morpeth is unique, and encompasses many elements I have sometimes found unavailable when visiting other play venues or have thought to myself that it would be good to have there.
“The good transport links that the town offers will make it easy for families to travel from right across the surrounding area to visit us.
“I’m excited to be opening Little Morpeth’s doors and showing everyone what’s on offer, and if the right locations come up, I’m open to looking at creating more ‘Little towns’ in other places around the region.
“The investment options that NEL provided gave me the flexibility I needed and the process of securing the money was straightforward, quick and easy after sharing my plans and ideas for the business with them.”
Mike Guellard, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “This is a brilliant concept that will appeal to children and parents alike, and we’re very pleased to have helped Steffanie bring her ideas to life.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 2,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.