Our story – Challenges we face
Here’s post number 3 of the story of our play centre, Eden Softplay, with the aim of increasing people’s awareness of the workings and purpose of our family café. This is the last post of three that aims to give a general story of how far we’ve come as a community project, as well as a play centre. This time I wanted to outline some of the challenges we have faced.
One challenge we saw coming from the outset was one of affordability: Soft play cafes are normally visited by more affluent customers, and as a result, making the project affordable for some Meadows residents is an ongoing challenge: The Meadows is an urban priority area. Currently people with a Meadows address receive a discount on entrance and soft play parties, allowing for their regular use (some come in more than once a week!), which is the purpose of this community space. However, running an affordable café which serves healthy, well-sourced food options has been a major challenge. We are in a constant state of development with our menu, seeking new suppliers, listening to what people have to say, and making improvements where necessary. So any of our customers who’d like to give us some feedback, please do!
Another challenge faced by the business is the undeserved reputation of the Meadows area, when we first started promoting Eden as a play centre; a number of negative comments were made about the location. The great thing about the project is that people who have overcome this prejudice, have come to see that the Meadows is a wonderful place which in no way deserves its reputation. We hope that those people go and tell their friends that this reputation is no longer just. In 2014, the police decided to shut the police station, when we asked why, we were told it was because crime had basically stopped altogether in the Meadows! Spread the word!
A major challenge for any social enterprise is to keep to the reasons why the business was initially started: Social change. Running a business has such a large number of practical aspects and, in reality, needs to make a profit. While we have now accepted that it was right to focus on establishing the business in the first year, we know we missed some of our year-one objectives. This was initially frustrating; however the reality is that without a successful business running, achieving the social aims would be impossible. It is, however, vital that we continue to bring these aims back to the forefront of our minds and to-do lists to ensure we don’t get bogged down in merely running a business. We’ve now started to make some really positive steps with the launch of super kitchen on Wednesday nights, this has been a huge success and we hope for it to continue going from strength to strength! We also have a few other projects in the pipeline so watch this space!
We continue to be hugely thankful for where we have come so far and for the support of our wonderful customers along the way!
I hope these “story” posts have given an insight into the behind-the-scenes side of our family café. Next we’re going to look at some of the basic positives of play itself, because this, in itself, is very GOOD!