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How a parent-led nursery grows community resilience

The Friendly Family community nursery is a parent-led nursery in Deptford, made by families, for families. It was established by a group of local Deptford parents who created the vision and initial business plan for the nursery with the support of the New Economics Foundation and Coram Family and Childcare as well as funding from Trust for London, the GLA (Greater London Authority) and a partnership with Peabody and with co-designers and makers Collaborative Design and Build.

We discovered this nursery when it was uploaded to Collaborative Change, our catalogue of collaborative projects that emerged during the pandemic. It is exemplary in the way people have come together across sectors, quite apart from being an innovative example of volunteers acting to address a local need.

Parents can get involved in the day to day tasks of delivering childcare to help keep running costs low, help out with preparing meals, tidying up, providing some admin support and organising fundraising. In this way parents are at the forefront of organising and delivering an affordable, local childcare service to help make sure families’ needs are met. From planning what the childcare service will look like to sitting at the head of management and recruiting early years professionals, parents play a key role in creating a service that works for their neighbourhood.

‘Parent-led childcare’ has the potential to help communities access high-quality childcare that both supports parents to work and and to boost their children’s learning and wellbeing, particularly in areas where families are underserved by the childcare system.

Under-represented groups, such as single-parents or those living in poverty, are too often left unsupported. The Friendly Family Community Nursery is not only innovative it also confronts issues that have been aggravated by the pandemic: mental health problems, home-schooling, employment loss and financial pressures. To address these while also providing employment opportunities, management and professional skills – as well as creating a trusted local network – is to provide an invaluable service to a community as a whole. 

The nursery is an example of what a community can achieve from its own initiative, through collaboration and with support. ftwork believes such grassroots projects offer an invaluable way of testing and growing innovative ideas driven by local need, but which also have the potential to be rolled out elsewhere. It is easy to see how this community nursery spreads benefit to others around it, particularly valuable in these difficult circumstances. Now we need to learn from such examples.

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