A fund set up by Co-op Childcare, which operates the Swindon Little Pioneers nursery, has provided over £40,000 worth of childcare support to key workers.
Co-op Childcare, part of Co-op Midcounties, set up the Frontline Hero Support Fund in April with a £25,000 donation and received over 300 contributions from Co-op Midcounties members and the general public. All the money raised has been used to pay for childcare support for critical key workers who opted-in to the scheme, resulting in around 170 parents having 50% of their nursery costs in May paid through the fund.
At the beginning of the lockdown period, Co-op Childcare paused fees for parents who were unable to send their children to its nurseries. Instead the business asked them and other members to consider making a donation to help key workers who may have needed additional childcare support in order to continue providing critical frontline services to their communities. Following a large number of enquiries, the fund was subsequently opened to the general public, resulting in over 200 donations.
Co-op Midcounties has kept a third of its nurseries fully operational and open for business during the coronavirus lockdown, focusing on those sites closest to hospitals in order to ensure NHS and critical workers have easy and local access to childcare where needed. This includes the nursery at Swindon.
Rana who is a local key worker, said: “Both me and my husband are key workers - me in Food Retail and him as an NHS Doctor - and we were unsure about how would we be able to work when the closure of all schools and nurseries was announced. Finding out that the Co-op Childcare Nursery was going to remain open, and had a clear plan to protect children and staff was so important. The support fund initiative by the nursery has been very encouraging, the financial support takes off major stress from being able to work. It has been really important for us to know that we can work for our community and we will get support for doing that.”
Throughout the pandemic the Society has been going above and beyond to ensure that children, families and colleagues are kept safe. This includes the implementation of a range of important preventative and protective measures to mitigate any transmission of the infection, such as sterilisation mist cleans of our open nurseries proven to destroy any trace of COVID-19, minimising interactions through creation of ‘bubbles’ of children and introduction of contactless thermometers and fever screening devices. The focus on safety will be intensified as we look to re-open our doors to all children from 1st June and any new challenges that might present so that our families can have complete confidence that their children are fully protected.
Phil Ponsonby, Co-op Midcounties Chief Executive, said: “We’re all incredibly grateful for the work that NHS Staff and other key workers are doing during the coronavirus pandemic to save lives and keep essential services running. We set up the Frontline Hero Support Fund as we know that many of our critical workers are facing unprecedented challenges while in work and wanted to do what we could to help.
“The support we’ve received from colleagues, members and the general public has been overwhelming, and shows both the desire from people across the country to express their thanks for critical workers at this time, and the positive impact that the cooperative approach can have.”
Critical workers interested in using our childcare facilities should contact customer services on 0800 954 0669 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The full list of open nurseries can be found at:https://www.littlepioneers.coop/critical-key-workers/