Stay and Play

In this episode, Eva, a single mum, artist and designer talks about stay and plays. Stay and Plays are often volunteer-run groups, found in church halls. They are places people looking after very young babies and children can go, to play with others, have a cup of tea and a chat, and maybe even make friends. An experienced play facilitator herself, Eva first discovered the value of stay and plays when she was a new parent. They were, she says, life saving and gave her a community that has lasted. If they are so vital, why then does no one talk about them?

Eva goes on a mission to investigate why stay and plays are so devalued. During the pandemic stay and plays were the first to close and the last to open. She finds out about the history of Hackney Playbus which turned 50 years old in 2022. The playbus was one of the places she bought her own son when he was small, and talks to parents using stay and plays now. She asks, are the needs of families and children at the heart of conversations around childcare now?

Episode produced by Eva Freeman

Sound design by Hannah Kemp Welch

Interview with Pauline Weinstein, interviewed by Craig Fees in 1996, reproduced with permission from the Planned Environment Therapy Archives and Special Collections (

Interview with Claire Kelly, member of Hackney Playbus board. Find out more about Hackney Playbus here –

Interview with Laura and Gemma, regular stay and play attendees.

See more of Eva’s work at

This podcast is part of the Grow Your Own oral history project, run by On the Record

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