Grenfell Nursery was based on the first floor of the tower block on the West Lancaster Estate in north Kensington that caught on fire last Wednesday (14 June) in the early hours of the morning.
All children that lived in the tower and attended the nursery have been accounted for.
Run by Lancaster West Children’s Community Network (LWCNN), the not-for-profit setting, which has been re-located to Illys Booker Centre as a temporary measure, is now appealing for monetary donations to purchase equipment and resources for when it moves to more permanent premises. A new location is yet to be found for the nursery, which was due to celebrate its 30th anniversary this month.
The nursery’s manager, Shirley Sylvester, who has worked at the setting for more than 20 years and grew up on the estate where the tower block is based, told Nursery World that the setting lost everything in the fire. And while it is currently unable to accept physical donations because of a lack of storage, any monetary donations would be greatly appreciated.
A JustGiving page has been set-up for the nursery, which has so far raised £4,744.
Following the devastating fire last week, the early years sector has rallied together to help those families affected, offering donations and pledging their time.
Early years consultant Laura Henry, who used to live in the Grenfell Tower area, is in contact with the council about setting up a free summer play scheme for children affected by the tragedy.
London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), which sadly lost a former member of staff in the fire, has also offered nursery places to families now living in temporary accommodation. It is also looking at creating a fund for those families affected to provide longer term help and support.
LEYF’s chief executive June O’Sullivan said, ‘When we heard about the fire, I immediately went to visit our two most local settings to Grenfell, the Colville and Queensborough nurseries. I knew some of the staff lived locally and may have seen the fire or knew people in the fire. That was indeed the case and they were very shocked and distressed because of what they had seen from their windows.
‘Our first response was to collect clothes, nappies and toiletries for the families left homeless.
‘On Friday, I learnt that a former member of staff who had worked with us some years ago had been killed in the fire along with her baby and husband.
'I went to visit Katharine Bruce nursery where Farah Hamdan worked and gave the staff a hug. They were very upset, especially one staff member who had remained friends with her.
‘Colleagues have been quick to respond and offer their condolences. We have an employer assistance programme for staff and they may consider using this now.
'We will continue to check in on staff and the nurseries. I think an organisation needs to be sensitive and alert in times of tragedy. With regards to the children, we will use our kindness research to influence how we answer their questions about the fire and deal with issues as they arise. We will explain why we have collected food and clothes and how we will use them.
‘Practically, I have asked all the area managers to check the nursery fire evacuation records, instigate a fire evacuation and make sure we are operating within a fire safe environment.’
Action for Children, which has two nurseries close to the Grenfell Tower, told Nursery World that a mother and her young child who attends one of the settings is still unaccounted for at present.
The charity’s head of early years Sue Robb said, ‘Our thoughts are with the bereaved families and those injured in the fire. Clare Gardens and St Quintin Day Care nurseries, both situated close to Grenfell Tower, are part of this community and we have staff, friends and families who have been directly affected. We are very proud of our dedicated staff who have supported the people affected by the fire over the past week and Action for Children will continue to provide a high-quality offer during the very difficult times ahead for this community.’
Information packs to help practitioners support children though trauma are available to download for free from the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), Pre-School Learning Alliance and the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years’ (PACEY) websites.
- Any donations for the nursery should be passed on through its JustGiving page here