Sevenoaks Day Nursery is run by the community, for the community, and has been supporting children and their parents for almost 30 years
TUCKED away behind the Sevenoaks Community Centre at Bat and Ball is a volunteer-led charity that has quietly supported families for almost 30 years – but its important work goes almost unnoticed by many local residents. Sevenoaks Day Nursery provides low-cost, all-day childcare in the area, as well as emergency places via social services.
Sevenoaks is often labelled as an affluent area but, like any other town, many families struggle financially. It can be difficult for low-income families to afford the fees at commercial day nurseries, and it’s not unusual that both parents to have to work just to make ends meet.
By keeping costs to just £40 per day and offering various government initiatives (particularly the Free for Two scheme, which targets disadvantaged families), the Nursery makes it possible for low-income families to come off benefits and go out to work. Uniquely though, the Sevenoaks Day Nursery also provides around 2,000 hours of emergency day care each year for families that have reached crisis point.
Here are just a few of the ways in which the Nursery has supported families:
- Where a parent at the Nursery has died, free places have been allocated to the children while the bereaved partner sorts out their affairs.
- Free sessions have been given to children while their single parent attends hospital appointments or a job interview.
- When a father was taken seriously ill and placed on life support for several months, the Nursery waived the fees in full throughout this time.
- When a single mother was trying to get back to work, the Nursery waived her fees to help when her benefits were stopped.
- Emergency places have regularly been allocated to children when there have been issues around domestic violence in the household.
What makes Sevenoaks Day Nursery special is that it is run by volunteers. The nursery staff are all paid, but there is a volunteer management committee in place to oversee the general, day-to-day activities of the nursery, to set out policies and procedures and to make sure the building is maintained.
There’s also a volunteer Board of Trustees that plans for the future, keeps an eye on the finances and makes sure that the Nursery complies with Ofsted regulations.
Sevenoaks Day Nursery is a charity, and all income is reinvested in the Nursery. After 30 years of saving and fundraising they are just about to replace the ageing classrooms – a project that is costing almost half a million pounds.
If you’re inspired by this commitment from local volunteers, why not join them? They are particularly looking for people with legal or financial skills, but anyone who would like to join the management or trustee committees would be welcomed.