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Our Journey 


The Day we got the keys!





So, where do I start?! The journey has not been easy, in fact it has been at times extremely difficult.  Pictured above is a photo of the day I got the keys, then about 3 months in, half way through and then finally weeks before we opened our doors.  Although we are open not everything is the finished product so you will see exciting additions over the coming weeks and months. When we got the keys the unit was in ‘core shell’ condition. That meant there wasn’t even an electric meter, so of course not a single light or socket, no toilet, nothing! We didn’t even have a floor suitable to lay flooring on top of. It has taken us a painfully long time to get to where we are but we are so delighted to finally welcome you all to Dougie`s.

Our Kitchen will open nearer to spring offering delicious homecooked cakes and savoury bakes. We have various classes and events lined up for the near future too. Dougie’s play café was created in my head many years before the opportunity arose to make it happen in real life! My background is in family law as an independent paralegal, a very rewarding field that allows you to help children and, something that I still consult in from time to time. Unfortunately, the nature of the job means that at times things feel very ‘doom & gloom’. I decided that I wanted to work in an environment that was positive, cheerful and benefited the children’s development and education. Life as a parent or carer to children is hard and, I wanted to create a place for us all to go where just for an hour or two we could forget about the outside world and, where our children could immerse themselves in a world of creative play.

As a single parent to a child with ASD & PDA, I often struggle with trips to classic soft play venues or structured classes and, being stuck in day in day out on rainy days when you do not want to travel too far afield because you’ve spent the morning dealing with autistic meltdown, only added to life’s difficulties. My son LOVES soft play and it is great to get out some of that excess energy however, I found that the environment could become quickly overwhelming, it can be difficult to see and keep track of your child at all times. Soft play encourages physical activity which in some children creates challenging, hyper and forceful behaviour. We still go to soft play and will continue to do so but I knew I wanted to create a beneficial alternative. After all they say variety is the spice of life!

I grew up in Hackbridge and Carshalton, once I became a parent I became acutely aware that there were very little within an hours drive that offered role play instead of soft play only. Role play encourages sharing, problem solving, it helps with dexterity, cognitive development and so much more. What’s great about role play is that it’s suitable for sociable and not so sociable children. If your child doesn’t want to engage with others they do not have to, as there is always likely to be a zone or activity area that isn’t being occupied. Adults can get involved too which is so important for children’s development and bonding. 

Although we are open we have many plans for the future including classes, our upstairs art zone, afterschool sessions and much more. We hope you are as excited as we are and wish to thank you all in advance for your support in what is a very worrying and uncertain time for independent businesses like ours. 


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