A Newcastle-based charity that offers themed play and crafts for kids has won a £500 grant from the Venator Community Fund.

The Owl Tree Children’s Café will use the money to provide a safe, fun, welcoming and affordable environment where children can play and meet and parents and carers can socially interact.

The community interest company (CIC) is one of 40 organisations to have benefited from the fund, which has handed out more than £50,000 to schools, community groups and charities across the region since it was launched in 2018.

Hannah Tait, a co-founder of The Owl Tree Children’s Café, said: “We applied for money from the Venator Community Fund and we were fortunate enough to secure the grant. The money will be really useful to us as we continue to improve our services to the local community.

“Lockdown was tough for so many parents because they couldn’t interact with each other and share their experiences. This has led to many people, particularly first-time parents, feeling isolated and lonely.

“Our mission is to provide a safe, fun, welcoming and affordable environment where children can develop and parents can socialise with other parents. We help these parents to combat loneliness by offering a befriending service that connects like-minded people. We’ve used some of the money from Venator’s Community Fund to invest in a sensory tent and other equipment for the kids. The rest will cover expenses so that we can continue to offer social sessions for free.”

Karen Fenwick, Vice President Corporate Branding and Communications at Venator, said: “We were delighted to award The Owl Tree Children’s Café £500 from our community fund.

“Our fund is designed to support North East charities, community groups and educational establishments that share Venator’s values of teamwork and innovation. It’s clear to see The Owl Tree Children’s Café values teamwork and togetherness just as much as we do at Venator.”