An amazing day out for single parent families

Posted 9 November 2023

Gingerbread members in London enjoyed a day of theatre and fun in the heart of the capital over half term.

Over 50 parents and children spent the day at Banqueting House in Whitehall. They were taking part in a day of interactive drama and theatrical activities. It was an opportunity to make new friends, have fun and see inside a historic London landmark.

Banqueting House is part of the Historic Royal Palaces charity. They have been working in partnership with Gingerbread since spring 2022.

Kim Klug is the Community Partnerships Manager at the Historic Royal Palaces. ‘We are delighted to welcome Gingerbread families through our Amazing Days Out Programme’ she explains. ‘This programme aims to support families to connect, play and have fun at our palaces. It’s all about creating brilliant memory-making days.’

Inspired by the past

Banqueting House was built by King James I as an event venue to hold theatre productions called masques. Inspired by this, Kim invited interactive theatre company Toucan Theatre to create ‘a play in a day’ with local families.

‘Everyone should have the chance to be creative,’ says James from Toucan Theatre.

‘Toucan Theatre delivers first experiences of creative, interactive theatre to young people and their grown-ups – especially those who are sometimes overlooked,’ continues James. ‘We created a short piece called Fat Cats to amplify a modern social issue (climate inequality) by using 17th Century storytelling techniques (dance, song, masks and performance).

Children and parents spent their morning mask-making, singing and rehearsing. After a picnic lunch, we combined the morning’s activities into a short performance. And the applause echoed around Banqueting House!

Accessible days out for single parent families

Single parents often tell us that regular ‘family friendly’ activities don’t work for them. Family tickets which are priced for two adults don’t benefit single mums or dads. And it’s difficult to supervise and make sure that children of different ages are having fun when you’re the only parent.

Gingerbread recognises these extra challenges single parents face. That’s why we were delighted to work with the Historic Royal Palaces and Toucan Theatre. Together they created an inclusive day out for single parents and their children to have fun together.

Laura, one of the mums who attended, says:

‘It was very invigorating as an adult to do something creative like that, and to have the opportunity to learn and create with the children at the same time. And it was great to meet the other parents! My children enjoyed themselves very much. Thank you to everyone for organising!’

Jenny also took part with her two children. ‘We had a great time and my children were singing the song we learned all the way home!’ she says.

Working in partnership with Gingerbread

With nearly 1 in 4 families headed by a single parent, Kim can see the benefits of the Historic Royal Palaces working with Gingerbread. ‘This experience helped our team to gain a greater awareness and understanding of the barriers and pressures single parents may experience. We are delighted to continue our work together,’ she says.

James from Toucan Theatre agrees: ‘It was so much fun to work with Gingerbread for the first time and we’re excited about collaborating together in the future.’

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Historic Royal Palaces for making us so welcome. Thanks also to Toucan Theatre for putting on such a fantastic day of creative activity. It was great fun for children and parents alike!