Friendly Families nursery
This brand new nursery provides affordable, child-centered care co-produced by parents and staff.
Aysan Alba’s son Ezekiel was five months old when she attended an open day about parent-led nurseries near her home in Deptford. She remembers the date, because her son had just started sitting, and she was already worrying about going back to her job as a teacher and leaving him in the care of someone else.
At the meeting she met Lucie Stephens from the New Economics Foundation. NEF has been building a network of parent-led nurseries in London. Inspired by a parent-led nursery called Grasshoppers in Hackney, Stephens has worked with the Deptford parents as they have worked to bring an empty building back to use as a nursery in their local area. The group started small, with play and stay sessions, community meals and other gatherings where the parents got to know one another and to discuss what a good nursery would look like to them.
In October, the Friendly Families Nursery will open on the Vanguard Estate for children aged two and above. The parents have the option to volunteer with their children in the nursery, reducing the cost of childcare and enriching the experience for everyone involved.
“I have worked in some amazing nurseries and some terrible nurseries, you just don’t know,” Alba says. “With a parent-led nursery you get more of an input. If done really well it could work not just for working parents like me, who want to take and interest in their child’s education, but other parents as well.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Introduce a Co-operative Economy Act
A legal framework tailored to the needs of co-operatives and supportive of their future development.
Roll out universal basic services
Quality public services allow us all to live better lives, and should be expanded beyond health and education.
Reform and directly fund childcare
Measures will boost funding and create providers that put families before profits.
Create affordable workspaces
Affordable workspaces are essential to the survival of independent businesses.
Create new sources of finance for co-ops
Create financial instruments and institutions tailored to the needs of the co-operative economy.
Launch a Co-operative Development Agency
A network of support and capacity building to develop and extend the capabilities of the co-operative movement.