Smuffies (St Mary's Under Fives)

If you are a mum, dad, grandparent, carer with babies or toddlers, or an expectant mum, Smuffies is the place to be: our under-fives group is a warm and busy hive of play, activity and a chance to meet other families.


Our thriving under-fives group, Smuffies, has long been at the heart of St Mary’s work with children and young families.  We offer a safe and welcoming place for anyone caring for under-school-age children and there’s always someone to chat to at our weekly group.

Recommended locally by health visitors and the Pre-School Learning Alliance, we provide hands-on creative crafts for all children (and their adults), spaces for role-play and reading, confidence-building and problem-solving. Whether you bring a new-born, a toddler or a four-year-old about to start school, at Smuffies you will find a wide range of quality activities, toys and equipment for all ages.

Got any questions about Smuffies? Read on or see below for contact details:

When and where do you meet?

We meet in St Mary’s Parish Hall every Tuesday afternoon between 1pm – 2.45pm during school term-time: you can come along at whatever time is convenient to you and your baby/toddler’s routine, and we make sure you have plenty of time to get to local schools for the pick-up of any older siblings.

How much does it cost?

Our fees are currently £1 per adult, regardless of the number of children you bring. Any extra adults attending with you are £1 each. Your £1 includes tea/coffee for you and refreshments for the children during the session, as well as helping St Mary’s to fund Smuffies’ other activities. All of the Smuffies team are volunteers.

Is there car-parking for Smuffies?

There is very limited parking at the Parish Hall but there is a Pay-and-Display car-park immediate opposite on Newgate.

How do I join the group?

You can simply come along to one of our sessions, when we’ll take your contact details. We don’t run a ‘waiting list’ and there’s no obligation to attend every week so feel free to join in whenever you wish. If you want to let us know you’re thinking of attending, or have any questions, you can always call group leader Kim on 01833-637018 or email on

How do I volunteer to help with Smuffies?

If you would like to help with the Smuffies team, we’d love you to join us:  helping with refreshments, or at the craft table, or setting-up (or packing-away) the play equipment is all a vital part of how our group thrives. Please get in touch on a Tuesday afternoon or via our contact details.

What do I do when I arrive? and when I leave?

For our easy-access entrance for prams and buggies, come along to the ‘back door’ of St Mary’s Parish Hall, where there is a slope alongside the hall’s large windows.  You can park your buggy at the back of the hall near the mural, and there’ll be someone ready to welcome you at our Signing-In table. Here’s where you can find any news leaflets about Smuffies or other children & family events at St Mary’s. Don’t forget to sign out too when you leave the session!

What sorts of things do you do at Smuffies?

Our sessions always include

  • ‘active’ play (toddle trucks & scooters, trampoline, slide, play tunnel, hopscotch or balance beam)
  • ‘role play and imaginative’ play (dressing-up, prams, a playhouse and kitchen, dolls house/farm/garage and train sets)
  • ‘creative and mental’ play (puzzles, threading toys, playdough, storybooks, drawing).

As well as encouraging children’s active, creative and imaginative development with our weekly craft table (including baking, textiles and clay), we also share “juice-time” together and if there’s a birthday, even a cake with candles to blow out. At the end of the session everyone joins in tidying away before our final singing games and rhymes and thank-you prayer.

At our Christmas and Summer Parties, there’s extra fun with bouncy castles, strawberries, presents for our Leavers-for-School, and even a visit from Santa who brings a book for each child. Tempest Photography visits Smuffies each September to offer portrait photos for children and families.

We raise money annually for children’s charities with cake sales, raffles and a Big Sponsored Slide or Toddle each spring.

Can I leave my child at Smuffies?

No. Smuffies is a parent and toddler group so we require the parent/carer to be in attendance throughout the session. All parents/carers are responsible for their child(ren) at all times.

Do you have to attend St Mary’s Church to belong to St Mary’s Under Fives?

No. Whilst you don’t have to attend church to come along to Smuffies, St Mary’s is a big part of who we are – so in our crafts through the year we always celebrate Christian festivals and traditions: Christmas, Mothering Sunday and Easter.  We also pass on information about any special events, services or celebrations for young families at St Mary’s, including the popular Christingle and Crib Services, and we always join in St Mary’s Christmas Tree Festival with a dazzling Smuffies-designed tree. We can also provide a contact point for anyone who wishes to enquire about baptism/christening.

Get in touch

We hope we’ve answered some of your questions but if you have any other suggestions or queries, please get in touch with leader Kim Harding by phone – 01833-637018 – or by email: