A FAMILY-RUN Hampshire business has created a miniature city to let children play at being adults.

Helen Chan, 32, from Bitterne, set up Tots City with her sister Emma Barnard, 28, from Weston to provide a fun place for youngsters to explore the world of imagination and roleplay.

The centre in Townhill is for children up to around five to six years old and features a miniature city, complete with essentials like a supermarket, theatre, doctors surgery, cafe, farm and recycling centre.

There are toys in each room, to give the children a chance to pretend to do adult tasks such as shopping, take medical notes, look after animals and prepare a delicious menu of food.

Helen quit her job in finance at Southampton City Council to make her dream a reality, and recruited her sister to help with running the centre behind the scenes.

Helen said: “My sister and I have five boys between us, all under the age of five, and we are always struggling to find things to do with them.

“This was in the pipeline for a year before we opened in February.

“It’s gone amazingly since then, even better than we could have imagined.

“It’s lovely to watch the children’s imaginations run wild, pretending to be adults. It’s something different and usually they don’t want to go home.

“In a couple of years’ time we might try and get somewhere slightly bigger.”

Parents can book their children in for one and a half hour sessions, which gives them a chance to take a break with a coffee and cake.

The idea has proved popular with parents from all over Southampton and even as far as Bournemouth, leading Helen and Emma to establish loyalty cards for customers.