This place is a life saver for people with small children who have to be in the centre of Oxford for some reason, or who just want to meet friends and chat, or who just want to get out the house and talk to some adults.
Between 10:30 and 2pm on Weds, Thurs and Fridays you can and your children can go there and play or chat or eat. It takes place in a large church hall. There are tables for people who want to sit and eat. There is a small climbing frame and wheelie toys for the active children. There is a book corner for the quiet times. There are plenty of toys. The food is simple but good and the cakes are often very good - home made by volunteers.
It is all so well thought out. The toilets have changing mats, potties, a toilet and toddler seats for the toilet. The food comes in adult size or child size. There are high chairs, children's cutlery and children's cups. There are magazines just in case all you want is a bit of peace and quiet whilst your children are busy to do grown-up things like have a drink and a flick through a magazine. There are information boards with useful notices. There should be a copy of the wonderful Oxford for the Under 8s in case you need ideas for other things to see and do with your children and there may be a copy of the latest newsletter from the New Parent Network (who write the book) on the same theme.
But best of all is the welcome you will get from Isabel and her volunteer helpers.
The only downside is how popular Rainbow house is. On some days it can get very busy and so it can get noisy. But everybody is in the same boat and so they'll be willing for you to squeeze on to the end of their table, they'll understand when children get grizzly and no one bats an eye if your child screams.
Rainbow House is a very useful resource, but it is limited and suffers from layout and availability issues. It is often hard to see and supervise your child from the tables and chairs provided, but it's equally hard to supervise more closely because of the number of small children underfoot. When children are on the climbing frame this can - and does - lead to minor accidents, unfortunately. Because it is located in the Wesley Memorial church hall, used for other activities during the rest of the week, safety mats and big items have to be moved around each time it sets up, which does lead to it being not quite as secure as it could be.
The facilities are slightly limited, and again because it is the church hall, they cannot be updated or improved to meet the needs of the group more specifically.
It is, however, a very useful central resource on the days it is open, and provides a welcome place to buy a cheap cup of tea and let your child run around to burn off pent-up energy, on a shopping trip.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.