#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

Q&A: Childcare social enterprise helps pull their community together to help those most in need

Nikki Beach from The Fern Partnership tells us of her pride in scaled-down frontline childcare and other critical staff in the communities they serve, giving vital support to those in most in need with true community spirit being stronger than ever.

By Ben Bostock · 30 April 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

Can you give us a summary of the positive work that’s still been achieved by Fern during this lockdown?

The Fern Partnership continues to operate during these unprecedented times, albeit on a much smaller scale, with only 2 out of 8 facilities currently operating.

A small number of our childcare team continue to operate front line, high quality childcare services in areas of greatest demand, albeit at a significant financial loss. We are eternally grateful and proud of their dedication and support to our communities in which we serve, all of whom have their own families at home.

“This is a crisis that we are all experiencing and are so proud of how our communities have come together to support one another with care, understanding and patience.”

Our organisation survey clearly shows our employees are satisfied with our organisational decisions and they appreciate the level of support, guidance and communication we are ale o provide utilising a very small number of employees who continue to work.

Our team continuing to do their best to provide positivity and support through our social media channels, sharing simple ideas to do at home at little or no cost as well as conducting welfare checks on our existing service users and volunteers.

Are there are particular projects or activity you’ve been particularly proud of?

We are extremely proud to continue to provide childcare during this unprecedented time, particularly as 90% of childcare providers have had no option other than to close. It saddens us to see this essential early years childcare sector under huge pressure and at high risk of being unable to reopen following COVID-19.

Our community worker has set up a weekly video call with regular volunteer from the well-established Knit and Natter Group to simply keep in touch and check that they and their families are safe and well.

Little Ferns Cwmparc Leaders daughter, Freya, who is only 8 years old has taken it upon herself to deliver a story time session which is a great hit. She is extremely proud of the role her mam plays in the childcare sector and wanted to do something for everyone to enjoy. Rumour has it that Freya more ideas up her sleeve, so watch this space!

Her mam, Rhianon, has been forced to move over while Freya takes over the weekly story time sessions! This has not only benefited our followers but also supported the young child to share her enthusiasm and positivity whilst practicing her reading skills.

Did you have to overcome any major obstacles / challenges?

Social Distancing in the childcare environment, particularly when caring for young babies has proven difficult.

Our weekly grocery order, historically completed using an online delivery service from the local supermarket has been difficult as there are no delivery slots available. However, we have overcome this by using our local small businesses which is definitely something we wish to continue following COVID-19. These small local businesses have been so helpful and supportive we want to give something back by continuing support buying locally wherever possible.

Availability of PPE and cleaning products is proving difficult, with many of our regular suppliers completely out of stock continuously. Our partners including Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCTCBC) have been extremely helpful in supporting us.

Continuous financial worries and the sustainably of our charitable organisation is a huge concern for the senior management team who are working tirelessly to access as much support as available as well as reviewing current practices in order to develop a post CODVID-19 sustainability plan

It has been difficult to get the balance right between looking after our employees, service users, providing the essential emergency childcare services and long-term sustainability.

Any there any members of staff / community you would like to give special mention to?

We would like recognise a core group of our employees who continue to work delivering front line services and managing the organisation finance, payroll and delivery without which our organisation would be completely closed for the foreseeable future;
Childcare Practitioners;
β€’ Ruth Rees
β€’ Katie Turner
β€’ Molly Lessard-Rowlands
β€’ Charlotte Williams
β€’ Christine John
β€’ Natalie Owen

Finance and Administration Team
β€’ Allyson Griffiths
β€’ Kelly Reed

If you had one message for the social business sector right now, what would it be?

We would like to say a huge thank you to Wales Cooperative Centre, Social Business Wales and our other partners for providing accurate and efficient information as and when available making our lives far easier to access funding and advice. In order to make informed decisions.

This is a crisis that we are all experiencing and are so proud of how our communities have come together to support one another with care, understanding and patience.

Working within the social business sector is extremely rewarding, however can often come with challenges, frustrations and exhaustion. This pandemic has not only forced new ways of thinking and working at a faster pace than usual in the most challenging of circumstances but also re-established true community spirit which with support from the social care sector will remain long term.

The social care sector is full of individuals with an abundance of enthusiasm, motivation, can do attitudes, and positive vibes with a shared vision to develop strong, resilient, motivated and empowered communities.

Keep up the amazing work everyone! We may not be able to see what the future holds for us but together we will come through this stronger, more knowledgeable and equipped to deal with whatever the future holds.

The Fern Partnership has received business consultancy support and advice from Social Business Wales, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

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