The owner of a Swindon soft play area for toddlers is struggling to keep it open after a series of setbacks.

Karen Morris and her family opened Swindon Party Warehouse in Cheney Manor 10 years ago, then set up Toddler Town in the unit opposite shortly afterwards.

Lots of little ones enjoyed spending time there and Karen built up a loyal customer base of parents and guardians.

The pandemic forced the soft play centre to close for 17 months and after that, she saw a sharp drop in the number of bookings and a rise in cancellations, while a leak in a neighbouring unit that damaged part of the play area led to her paying for new furniture, toys and flooring.

She aims to keep the play area open for two more months before deciding whether it is worth continuing any further.

Karen said: "I'm at a crossroads and I don't know what to do. I'm putting so much into this but getting so little out.

"People quite simply don’t use us enough, and considering the ridiculously high rent we have to pay, I can’t afford to keep a unit open that isn’t being used.

"The stress is making me feel like it’s time to say goodbye and move on. I’ve always said I’d rather go on a high than when I feel I have no choice.

"After I mentioned this on social media, there was an outpouring of love and supportive messages. If everyone who liked the post booked a visit, I would never have a problem again!"

Toddler Town is still a popular choice for birthday parties, but those alone are not enough to cover costs.

Alternative premises is a possibility for Karen, but finding the right site is easier said than done.

Karen added: "Lots of places for toddlers have closed recently, which is so sad. The cost of living crisis is hitting families hard and they are the people we rely on.

"It's hard to find somewhere else that might be suitable - some landlords don't like children, and it's quite a niche business, 

"There are so many empty buildings around the town but the rents and rates have gone up so much since Covid that I need to have confidence that my business is viable before making that move."

The Party Warehouse side of the unit continues to do well and is not at risk of closure.