Even when some of our businesses couldn’t open their doors during the various lockdowns there has been a great deal of activity happening behind the scenes in North Tyneside.
We spoke to two local businesses who collaborated to provide support for children with mental health challenges – and their work together looks set to expand.
Kiki’s Kabin soft play and Mindstars CIC made contact earlier this year and have been working together for a few months to provide activities, mental health support and healthy meals for children throughout the summer holidays.
John Evans, owner of Kiki’s Kabin, tell us more about how the partnership with Mindstars CIC came about…
Due to the various lockdowns and strict regulations throughout the pandemic, our businesses, Kiki’s Kabin and The Treehouse, were shut down for a total of 14 months. It was a tough time but we enjoyed the time we had together as a family and made the best of not being able to open our doors. But we kept our eyes peeled for opportunities to help other businesses and use the facilities and skills we have, in other ways.
As a long-standing member of the North Tyneside Business Forum, I always follow the new member posts on Facebook. On one of those posts I spotted a new member called Mindstars CIC and decided to find out more about them. I discovered that they’re an amazing company that aims to support and educate children around the importance of mental health and wellness.
How are you working together to support each other’s businesses?
There’s an obvious link between our two businesses, both absolutely centred around children, fun and activity, so I contacted Marisa at Mindstars CIC to find out if we could work together. I really wanted to help them deliver these crucial services so we started talking about ways we could step up and contribute.
Healthy eating is one of the cornerstones of Mindstars’ services so we agreed to provide health picnics for the children on their summer holiday programme. It meant that each and every child signed up was guaranteed at least one healthy meal per day. We also welcomed the Mindstars groups to Kiki’s Kabin once per week as a treat for both the children and their carers.
How have you found the partnership?
It’s been amazing. Marisa May, co-founder and managing director of Mindstars is a joy to work with and the ethos of the organisation is just brilliant.
Marisa’s corporate background as a bid manager meant that she’s incredibly good at writing grant applications. That meant that Mindstars could apply for a grant to pay for the healthy picnics so it didn’t cost them anything. It was an extra income for us, which was very welcome after 14 months of having to close our doors. It really has been a dream to work together with Marisa and her team at Mindstars.
Marisa, tell us about Mindstars CIC
Mindstars CIC started out as a community group when the pandemic first hit back in March 2020. Rebecca Hetherington and I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives – especially those suffering from mental health problems.
Rebecca is a therapist and knows first hand the problems associated with poor mental health in children. Current waiting lists for services such as CAMHS are frighteningly long and we were worried that, with the added pressures of lockdown, children’s mental health in the local area was going to suffer even more.
We started out delivering programmes with the National Lottery and produced a mental health activity book which we distributed for children to use at home. When July 2020 rolled around, we were able to form as a CIC and offer holiday activities and a food programme.
How have you found working with Kiki’s Kabin?
Working with John, Karen and the team at Kiki’s has been incredible. The obvious link between our two businesses makes the partnership perfect and we’re planning on extending our work together as a result of the fantastic results we’ve achieved.
In just a few short months, Kiki’s Kabin has provided the children on our summer holiday programme with almost 600 healthy picnics – they even delivered them when we were too busy to get out and collect them.
And the children just love visiting Kiki’s as an end-of-week treat to burn off some energy. We as carers even get treated to a sit down and a hot drink when we’re there because we know the children are safe and having loads of fun.
What are your plans for Mindstars CIC?
We’re continuing our school holiday activity programmes and are rolling out an after-school club too.
We’re also visiting workplaces in North Tyneside to educate parents on the importance of children’s mental health. There’s so much education needed in this area and we’re providing a service to bridge the gap between the need for support and the huge waiting lists for services like CAMHS. If parents know what they’re dealing with, what signs to look out for and how to help their children, that will take a great deal of strain off the sector’s already stretched resources.
To find out more about Kiki’s Kabin, The Treehouse and Mindstars CIC, visit: