Bourne Estate: Baby café

Bourne Estate: Baby café

Bourne Estate: Baby café 2560 1653 Charlotte Matthews

Supporting parents’ wellbeing

Being a parent is tough, and it can be lonely. That’s why Mel set up the baby café on the Bourne Estate – a space for parents and carers to have a much-needed rest and the opportunity to make friends while their children play.

We spoke to Mel to find out more.

Mel stands with two mums and their children smiling
Bourne Estate resident, Mel (middle) set up the baby café to support parents

What is the baby café?

“It’s somewhere that parents can come to take a breath. They can have a cup of tea and some food and put their child in a safe environment where they can play – it’s just like having people round to your house.”

What inspired you to start the café?

“When I gave birth to my daughter, I was in quite a low mood. One day when I was out with her, I walked past a community hall and a lady came out – she had a big smile and said ‘Come in, bring baby’.”

“From that moment, my daughter was taken from my arms and I was made a cup of tea and given some food, and I just felt really loved and got to meet some incredible women.”

“We needed something very similar on this estate.”

Mel tells a joke and three parents and their babies are laughing and smiling
The café is a great opportunity to meet other parents

“We check that they’re okay, have a chat and a giggle and that’s what it’s all about.”

Mel, Bourne Estate resident

Why is the café important?

“There are parents who come here who are struggling and it’s just good for them to offload and be looked after for a little while. We have heard some difficult stories and I think that a lot of people who attend the café are comfortable enough to share their experiences as they know they’re in a safe space.”

“They can see that the café is very friendly and relaxed, with a really nice atmosphere. Coming here is a nice thing to do to start the weekend off, as weekends can be quite lonely if you are a single parent or carer with young children.”

“This is their space. We check that they’re okay, have a chat and a giggle and that’s what it’s all about.”

Two children enjoy the ball pit in the play area
There's lots of toys and play equipment for children to enjoy

How has the Council’s COLC Fund helped the café?

“We’re very lucky that we were given funding for the baby café because there is a real need for services like this. The funding has been spent on the equipment we need – like our huge playpen, safety mats, baby changing and feeding facilities, and highchairs. We provide free toast and cake for parents and snacks, nappies and wipes for the babies. There’s also a ‘Narnia wardrobe’ filled with children’s clothes that people can help themselves to.”

What’s your favourite part of running the café?

“It’s just really nice when people walk in and the first thing they do is hug each other, because we are seeing friends and that’s the most amazing feeling.”

Mel, two mums and their children look through the clothes in the 'Narnia' wardrobe
Parents can help themselves to clothes from the 'Narnia wardrobe'

Mel’s Baby Café received support from the Council’s Cost of Living Crisis Community Response Fund | Learn more about the fund.

Visit the baby café

The café welcomes all parents and carers – you don’t need to be a Bourne Estate resident to visit. The café is open every Friday from 10am to 12.30pm and you can drop in at a time that suits you.

Address: Allen Hall, Bourne Estate, Dobson Court, Portpool Lane, Clerkenwell, EC1N 7AA


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