The nursery’s subsidised places for vulnerable children provide a lifeline to parents who are struggling. The scheme has helped parents get back to work, take up or continue with training and seek help and support, and their children to be kept safe, grow in confidence, hit key developmental milestones and, for those in need of help, be identified early on.
Last year, St George’s Childcare in Tunbridge Wells provided 1,391 childcare sessions at subsidised rates. The scheme is funded entirely through donations. Each year, St George’s aims to raise £25,000 through events and fundraising activities to provide the service to support vulnerable children. This could include children living in unstable homes where there is a concern over substance, alcohol or psychological abuse or violence, those with delayed social or intellectual development, children whose parents or carers have mental and/or physical difficulties and children in stressful or abusive circumstances.
Staff at the setting have taken on big challenges to help raise money such as colour runs, half marathons and climbing the Yorkshire Peaks. Its deputy childcare manager was sponsored to trek to Mount Everest’s Base Camp in December.
St George’s says that Tunbridge Wells is assumed to be an affluent area but, like all communities, has pockets of deprivation. The setting is located next to the wards of Southborough and High Brooms and Sherwood – rated in the top 29 per cent for income deprivation and in the top 24 per cent of the UK’s most-deprived areas for education.
Last year, the families they helped through the scheme included a mum, with several children, who has experienced domestic abuse and mental health issues. The subsidised childcare meant she could attend counselling sessions and take a course to rebuild her self-esteem, which helped her to recognise the signs of domestic abuse. St George’s says the subsidised places scheme means that children from all backgrounds can learn and play together, building the foundations for acceptance, equality and community togetherness.
By monitoring children’s developmental progress and using parent questionnaires, staff have been able to measure the impact of the scheme. One family that has benefited is Emma and her son, Billy. The pair both have learning disabilities and experienced abuse from Billy’s father.
Emma explains, ‘When we first came to St George’s, Billy couldn’t speak. He was scared to play with other children and never smiled. If the nursery hadn’t helped with the fees, I don’t know where we would be now.
‘The people at St George’s helped Billy feel confident enough to join in with games. Billy is very happy now, he talks all the time. He has made friends and is always smiling.’
"If it wasn’t for St George’s, I wouldn’t have been able to go back to university. Now I’m much more positive. I feel like I’m back on track" — parent
Cherubs Nurseries, East Midlands
Cherubs Nurseries takes an active role in supporting the communities it serves.
Every year, parents and staff select a charity partner. This year, the nursery group is supporting three local children’s wards at QMC and City Hospitals in Nottingham, King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield and Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop.
On top of this, Cherubs Nurseries runs a number of different community engagement events. Each nursery has a Community Life Champion who attends local meetings, organises events and ensures settings really engage with the local community.
Koru Kids, London
South Acton Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Outreach Groups, Acton
Open to services or projects that support parents, enhance their understanding of their children’s