Bradford mother launches new child play venture in Laisterdyke

A mother-of-four from Bradford has combined her dream of opening her own coffee shop with setting up a new indoor play area.

Nehgat Shah has opened The Gingerbread Mill in Florence Street, Laisterdyke, after receiving support from Bradford Council’s Kickstart enterprise programme.

It features a two-tier play frame and separate soft play area for toddlers as well as a café and is proving a hit with parents and children alike after opening at the end of last year.

Kickstart provided information about business planning, costings and to meet health and safety and food hygiene requirements. The business now employs two full-time members of staff and other part-time workers for busy weekends and parties.

In the past five years, the Kickstart programme has supported more than 1,500 new businesses and helped to create more than 5,000 jobs. It is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Nehgat, a former teaching assistant who worked in schools across the Bradford district for 12 years, said: “I’d always thought about starting my own business but had a coffee shop in mind.

“Then I started helping a friend with her play centre on the other side of Bradford and thought there was an opportunity to combine my experience of working with children with the cafe.

“I thought a play centre would be popular here because, although I live in Heaton now, I grew up in and around Leeds Road and my parents have a business here so I know the area really well.

“The help I received from Kickstart has been invaluable. I approached them at the outset and it has been a great support throughout the whole process of setting up and starting out on my own.”

Councillor David Green, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration and economy, said: “It’s great to see Nehgat get her business off the ground and create jobs for local people at the same time.

“Setting up a play centre like this throws up a number of issues like health and safety requirements which can look daunting for start-ups.

“Our Kickstart enterprise coaches have experience dealing with a wide range of sectors and are always able to either offer guidance direct or show where the best advice is available.”

Anyone who wants further information about Kickstart can call 0800 953 9503 or email