FREE alternative family events, workshops and mini projects that explore ART FOR SOCIAL GOOD with children, young people and families in Bearwood and Smethwick.Read More
Impact Hub Birmingham are seeking Playworker Wizards to join our skills trade programme – do you have experience of working with children and would you like to join the magical team making the Impact Hub Birmingham community awesome?Read More
"There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children."
I am really chuffed to announce that FAMALAM has received Open Access funding from Creative Black Country for a series of family events in Bearwood & Smethwick in 2017 that explores Art for Social Good.Read More
“We live in a network of peers who are not typical 9-5ers, a nomadic tribe of people who view the world in a different way and want to make it better, we see having children and our working lives, not as separate things but as one and the same. – Alice, Impact Hub MemberRead More
At this stage Kidoop is just a prototype, but we hope that a resource like Kidoop might help to make Parent Childcare Cooperatives a feasible alternative here in the UK, one that is more flexible, affordable and rooted in community, allowing children, parents and communities to thrive.Read More
A big thanks to all the mini mechanics and mums and dads who came along to Impact Hub Birmingham this half term for our DIY Drive In Cinema with Flatpack Film Festival.
Using scrap from the Birmingham Scrapstore we created the most amazing mixture of cars and vehicles and then settled in to watch an entertaining array of animations from Flatpack’s Colour Box Touring Shorts Programme.
The event was part of Flatpack Assemble’s aim to help build a more thriving, connected film community in the region and this workshop & screening will support parents in setting up their own family DIY cinema events in libraries and community hubs where they live.
“Perfect activity for kids, good size crowd and venue - not too overwhelming - and great film choices!”
“New, interactive, relaxed, fun, cute, and entertaining”
“Really lovely to make drive-in cars with boxes! Really creative and a great addition to watching the films”
“It’s been fantastic! Really well run and the children were so engaged, whatever their age”
“Thoroughly engaged me, my 8, 6 and 4 year old. Lovely to have a shared task”
If you would like information on how to host a DIY Drive In Cinema in a community venue where you live please get in touch E: email@example.com
As part of Flatpack: Assemble families are invited to join us for a DIY drive in cinema experience at Impact Hub Birmingham on Wednesday 26th October (half-term week) from 10.30am-12.30.
We'll be building our own cars using scrap and craft from the Birmingham Scrapstore and then settling in to watch an entertaining array of animations from Flatpack's Colourbox Touring Shorts programme.
Flatpack: Assemble's aim is to help build a more thriving, connected film community in the region and this workshop & screening will support parents in setting up their own family DIY cinema events in libraries and community hubs where they live.Read More
When Amy Martin’s son Theo arrived, he instantly took up position at the centre of her world. Creator of F A M A L A M, exploring parenting and play in the 21st century, her bold new initiative #RadicalChildcare identifies a system so flawed that it invites much room for innovation. Hear why Birmingham is perfectly placed to explore new possibilities for childhood, and the importance of developing a modern day village.
Amy Martin is a creative producer with a decade of experience in designing and delivering arts and innovation programmes across the country. Her work involves children and young people as co-constructors, co-producers and leaders. Amy is a BOM (Birmingham Open Media) Fellow and part of the Innovate UK / Arts Council England funded arts & technology pilot at Near Now in Nottingham. Her project F A M A L A M explores parenting and play in the 21st Century, with a specific focus on #RadicalChildcare an initiative to explore, imagine and invest in bold new possibilities for the future of childcare.
I'm really chuffed to be speaking at this year's TEDxBrum on 11th June at Town Hall, Birmingham.
I'll be talking about re-imagining childcare and why we need to take a systems approach if we want to see real change.
For further reading please check out this blog post: https://birmingham.impacthub.net/2016/05/06/an-invitation-for-systems-change-radicalchildcare/
For tickets to TEDxBrum check here: http://www.tedxbrum.com
Screening & Talk curated by F A M A L A M for Flatpack Film Festival
Venue: Action Space (pop up venue) Victoria Square, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 1BD
From the great outdoors to a disco in a shipping container, the possibilities of play and the environments in which it might take place are as broad as the imagination can stretch. But how can we cultivate the conditions for risky play in a city like Birmingham?
This event opens with a screening of Erin Davis’ short documentary The Land (2015), a portrait of Plas Madoc’s adventure playground where children climb trees, light fires and use hammers and nails. To follow is an informal discussion involving Mike and Ben from Ludiocology, North Wales, Amy Martin from F A M A L A M and Emma Bearman from Playful Leeds, where we will be exploring how we can develop the environment for risky play in Birmingham. We’ll aim to demonstrate some of the most innovative, thought-provoking and totally awesome projects, demonstrating creative solutions to finding a place to play.
Kids are very welcome.
Mike and Ben founded Ludicology in support of children’s play. This includes recognising that for children playing is living, advocating the need to cultivate more favourable conditions for play and championing the benefits associated with adults adopting a play centric approach.
F A M A L A M
F A M A L A M explores parenting and play in the 21st century and stages unusual cultural products, exploring new ideas in art, entertainment, parenting, play and learning for younger audiences and their families. F A M A L A M was founded by Creative Producer, Amy Martin and her (then) 9 month old son Theodore. Amy is working with Impact Hub Birmingham on #RadicalChildcare, an initiative to explore, imagine and invest in bold new possibilities for the future of childcare.
Emma Bearman and Playful Leeds
Playful Leeds believe that play should be for everybody, regardless of age, background or wealth. Playful spaces can bring people together in joy. Playful Leeds are the folks behind Playbox, a 20ft shipping container, transformed into a mini venue filled with tools for imagination and play. It allows creative play for all ages to take place in an area of Leeds where there used to be very little. Playbox provides a fully inclusive service for children of all abilities using traditional and co-operative activities which include team games, face painting, puppets, drama, storytelling and disco.
Watch the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/59809407
This is a free event but capacity is limited. For more information about the venue and accessibility please check: http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/venue/action-space/
For the full programme check www.flatpackfestival.org.uk
Stay & Play with guest Lucie Stephens from NEF
£2 / session
For many traditional commercial childcare – a childminder or nusery setting can prove expensive and rigid, with long waiting lists, large deposits, rigid contractual days and fees that duplicate the household mortgage or rent payment.
Parent Cooperatives could hold real potential for those wanting flexible, affordable and autonomous childcare.
Parent co-operatives cost up to 50 per cent less to run than standard nurseries, through engaging the parents alongside professionals in the delivery of childcare.
New Economics Foundation have produced a provocation piece written by Sophia Parker, Hannah Lownsbroug and Lucie Stephens that explores the idea further and gives examples of cooperative childcare programmes here in the UK.
Co-production is not about making parents into ‘mini-professionals’; rather, it is a way of recognising that good outcomes in many areas come from the effective bringing together of professional skills and knowledge, and people’s own wisdom and lived experience. The model is increasingly being put into practice across many other sectors and services in the UK - from social care, to mental health, to education - with proven benefits for those involved.
The flexibility of the approach offers a myriad of different methods with ever expanding levels of commitment and organisation. From freelance collaboratives, to employer-based parent co-ops, summer holiday schemes to highly organised preschools with hundreds of participating families.
Cooperative childcare tends to develop through peer-to-peer childcare initiatives from a demonstrated need amongst a peer group who want to develop childcare provision that suits their working patterns, values and lifestyle.
Might a cooperative model work for your family? What are the practical considerations?
On 5th April we have invited Lucie Stephens from New Econmics Foundation to come and share her experience of Childcare Cooperatives and the spectrum of practice she is aware of through her research with NEF.
We are trialing an approached to relaxed presentation as part of the Impact Hub Birmingham Stay and Play, so please feel free to bring children in your care theres plenty for them to play with and the discussion will be informal with space to play and snack.
Impact Hub Stay & Play will meet fortnightly from 10am-11.30am and affords an opportunity for Hub members and non-members and their children to talk, play and socialise together.
We provide a wide range of free-flow activities for children aged 6 months – 5 years, plus a healthy snack and a drink of juice or water. This work is part of #RadicalChildcare an initiative to explore, imagine and invest in bold new possibilities for the future of childcare.
A busy month for all things #RadicalChildcare.
I’ll be hosting the first #RadicalChildcare Learning Community at Impact Hub Birmingham on Monday 11th January 2016.
The #RadicalChildcare Learning Community is a 21st Century multimedia book club. It's a place where we can digest and interrogate current thinking, academic research, TED talks and podcasts in a supportive informal community of learners, experts and the curious. The Learning Community will meet every fortnight at Impact Hub Birmingham as part of Open Project Night, taking place on Mondays 6.30 - 8.30pm.
It really doesn’t matter if you’re a professor, a grandmother, a student; no experience is necessary (just a little homework). For our first session I propose we explore two fascinating reports:
Nesta’s Mothers of Innovation Report
This is a report I was lucky enough to read when I was on maternity leave, and one that I found hugely motivating. “Mothers can change the world. Socially, commercially and economically, mothers are a force for innovation around the world. This report shows how and why mothers make such great innovators.” Download the report here.
Co-produced childcare: an alternative route to affordable, high quality provision in the UK? by NEF, Sophia Parker and Hannah Lownsborough
This provocation piece explores why childcare in the UK has become dysfunctional, outlining how parent co-operatives could play a greater role in the UK childcare sector. Download the report here.
You can book a free space to attend this Community Learning meeting via here. We ask that you read the research material where possible, and bring an item of food to share with the group if you can. For more information about the #RadicalChildcare Learning Community please click here.
Then on Monday 11th January RSA members are invited to take part in an informal discussion at Impact Hub Birmingham on the transformative nature of learning.
We’ll hear from Amy Martin discussing changing demands of childcare; Mark Londesborough on the intended impacts of RSA Academies' Performing Arts Hub and Debie Keyte-Hartland on a shared (Swedish/UK) enquiry on children’s relationships with the natural world.
Each speaker will speak for ten minutes before we have an opportunity for reflections, questions, actions and links from all those present.
This event is part of an experiment to bring RSA ideas and Fellows together with Impact Hub Birmingham and it’s members to explore interesting and important topics and ideas in an informal and relaxed setting. Over the last few months we have been bringing people together around the RSA’s key themes to learn, share and connect. Don’t forget our next session on Monday 8 February, which will explore the RSA key theme of Public Services and Communities. If you have a topic you’d like to raise, please do get in touch.
The event will be hosted by Gary Byrne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any questions, please contact Rich Pickford: email@example.com
Location: Impact Hub Birmingham, Walker Building, 58 Oxford Street, Birmingham, B5 5NY
We are theatre professionals and mothers: Kristina (writer and a mother of a 10 month-old) and Tina (director and a mother of a 5 year-old and 3 year-old). Together we started a company notnow Collective which is dedicated to integration of parenthood and career.
When we first started talking about problems which we faced as theatre professionals and mothers I remember feeling very lonely (you know that feeling, when you think that you are the only person in the world with such a problem, how foolish!). I was so grateful that I had Tina as an experienced mother to discuss, compare practises in different countries and dream about utopian solutions. But then we started to connect with other people, and that was a journey of its own. In April we attended the first conversation about radical childcare in Impact Hub Birmingham and I felt so understood (you know that feeling, when you know there are other people who share your views, how great!). We were all talking about the same thing: The world has changed, there are so many people who don't work 9-5 and yet, childcare is not following their needs. We need more flexibility.
A couple of months later and the radical childcare pilot program was there! Organised in Impact Hub Birmingham it gave a perfect opportunity for parents to test what childcare might look like in the future.
Having never tried traditional childcare, it is difficult to compare, but when I was considering putting my baby into the nursery I experienced the feeling of anxiety that every mother has when she has to leave her kid for the first time. Co-creche was relaxed and easygoing, it gave me opportunity to work, while knowing that my kid is just upstairs and I can visit as many times as I want; just to see him through the glass door happily playing with other kids or getting inside to give him a cuddle when he was upset or even breast feed him if he was hungry. I felt I was there for him, and I didn't just leave him in a nursery and went. It was also good to get to know lovely ladies, childcare professionals who were there every week to take care of our children. One of them had her baby in the co-creche which felt more personal, like a community.
We had a three hour slot to work in an inspiring space of The Impact Hub co-work office. You can not believe what two mums can do in 3 hours! Seems like after having kids we get some super-power over time and we become focused and productive, making most of the time that we have. Usually we juggle with working from home, surrounded with nappies and toys, baby cries and feedings. Being surrounded with other workers, amongst desks and computers, coffee machines, flip charts and books was a great feeling, it felt very grown up. And I think that is what every mum needs, some grown up time.
Co-working was not just great because it gave Tina and me time to work with no interruptions, but also to connect with other mums who were working at the Hub. The pilot project started a conversation and we all shared our experiences. I remember one mum saying „I don't want to be stay-at-home mum, but I also don't have typical go-back-to-work job“. As freelancers, we really do ask ourselves – is there a third way, can we have it all? I suppose so, but only if we start a revolution and question everything they told us about childcare.
I have been juggling kids and work for over 5 years now. I work in theatre, so, unlike my microbiologist friend who works in a laboratory, or my engineer friend, or my physiothearapist friend, I was able to occasionally bring the kids to work with me. Being a nomad and travelling mamma, I also have some experience of various nurseries, both in UK and abroad. Or rather: I have experience of the constant battle with their policies (which would either ask us to keep paying to keep the space, or would ask us to leave as we did not fit into their scheme).
This is a snippet from my experience of Radical Childcare.
An evening before the first session. Kids are in bed. Sebastian is 3 and has never been left in the nursery. Pascal is 5. They are both apprehensive. Sebastian does not like the idea of being left somewhere, although on occasion he has to be. Pascal has experienced several childcare options and is well aware that this will be a different setting.
- So, where will you be working? – he asks me.
- There is an office space downstairs, this is where I will be. You will be playing upstairs. So if you need me you can ask someone to get me.
- (Pascal smiles. Works it out. It's different than the usual thing when I go. This is nice.)
- (Sebastian:) So, can I be where you are?
- I am sure. But you probably won't want to.
(On the day neither Pascal and Sebastian did not want to see me throughout, or leave after our 3 hour slot. At lunchtime they sat with other Impact Hub co-workers, chatted and made friends amongs them. Pascal told one lady he is home educated and interested in space. So she suggested to him a trip to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.)
It took me a few years of motherhood to realise that working and mothering will have to co-exist. Not only that, they should positively feed into each other. Maybe my guilt vanished as I saw both of my kids rather benefiting from the erratic and nomadic life, and being drawn into a lot of creative stuff that I do. Although it is far easier working without their interruptions, my reality does not allow for the cost of private childcare or baby-sitter.
For me Radical Childcare means creative and safe space for both me and my kids. With this unique formulae I become more productive, focused and my work, therefore, better. And my kids learn what it means to be a happy worker. I think it is an invaluable investment into our present and our future.
notnow Collective was founded by Tina Hofman and Kristina Gavran out of necessity to make our caring roles visible and explore ways of integrating parenthood into both professional practice and quality theatre experience.
The Co-Crèche was produced by F A M A L A M and funded by Arts Council England and forms part a larger programme reimagining childcare for the 21st century.
#RadicalChildcare is an initiative to explore, imagine and invest in bold new possibilities for the future of childcare.
Join in the discussion #RadicalChildcare.
F A M A L A M stages unusual cultural products, exploring the viability of new ideas in art, entertainment, parenting, play and learning for younger audiences and their families. F A M A L A M was founded by Creative Producer, Amy Martin and her (then) 9 month old son Theo.
.F A M A L A M's first project was the Internet Cat Film Festival with Flatpack Film Festival in March 2015. The films were chosen by a team of under 5s, the children took part in curatorial training and our youngest curator was 3 years old. In July 2015 F A M A L A M received funding from Arts Council England to develop a series of pilot projects including a STEAM Summer Camp with Birmingham Open Media and a pop up co-working & creche series at Impact Hub Birmingham.
One of of the provocation questions through the #RadicalChildcare campaign asks: How might we make Birmingham the best place to raise children?
On my journey home to Birmingham from NearNow in Nottingham yesterday I considered that question and dreamt up this answer. It is an extension to my childcare utopia (blogged about here). This is my Shangri la... a place based response, one of *near total fantasy at this point in time but something that I truly believe would make Birmingham the best place to raise children.
Welcome to The Children's Hub.
The Children’s Hub opened in 2018 in an old biscuit factory in Digbeth, Birmingham. It opened thanks to a successful kickstarter campaign, which reached £200,000 in 60 days. This was soon matched by a series of philanthropists and trusts who together generated over a million pounds to open the doors of this epic place that celebrates, supports and champions childhood.
The Children’s Hub was build by architects and designers in collaboration and consultation with children’s groups in Birmingham. The space has an extensive outdoor area, and a series of modular indoor spaces that can be re-designed and re-made to the wants and needs of the users.
The building uses the latest environmental initiatives to generate its light, heating and water and has been heralded as a SMART centre which means that it is carbon neutral and uses technology to intelligently manage the operation and functionality of the multifaceted space.
The onsite café serves nutritious, organic and seasonal dishes for all. The café serves predominately vegetarian and vegan foods in an effort to reduce meat and therefore energy consumption. Toddler Tapas is a popular menu and an exciting way to introduce young children to different tastes, smells and textures and with the help of the roof garden the café attempts to grow its own.
The café’s success helps to finance other parts of the venue including the arts programme. The arts programme has an international reputation for bringing the very best in dance, theatre, music, visual arts, film and contemporary circus to children in Birmingham and this work is integrated throughout the building as each studio has a performance space and visual art is visible around every corner.
The 4th floor is made up of a collaborative workspace for companies & individuals hosted by Impact Hub Birmingham, the majority of whom work for children. These include; Unicef, Holiday Kitchen, Active Kids, the Fostering & Adoption service and the fundraising team for Acorns Children’s Hospice. Plus there are social entrepreneurs, environmental charities, design agencies, policy makers, artists, educationalists and philanthropists. Your company doesn’t have to work directly with/for children to qualify for membership however you must align your work to the wider ambition to make Birmingham the best place to live, work and raise children. Impact Hub Birmingham at The Children's Hub strives to be a network of amazing citizens, makers, doers, entrepreneurs, activists and dreamers committed to building a better Birmingham and a better world.
As the companies work side by side they get to talk, informally network and collaborate on big and small ideas that benefit the wider community and they collectively work on projects that look at; health, wellbeing & poverty.
The building itself houses Co-kid the first day-care setting in Birmingham to offer pay as you go childcare and parents can chose to work on site from the co-working space at Impact Hub should they want to.
Co-kid is housed in The Children's Hub and has part of the converted roof garden as its urban forest school. It follows the Reggio Emilia approach, an education philosophy that is child centred based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community, through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. It is based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum. It offers flexible pay-as-go childcare, full time nursery places, summer schools, and wrap around care. When a child turns up to co-kid they are immediately entered into digital register which has functions that are much like a project management application such as basecamp or trello, mixed with whatsapp or snatchat. Updates can be sent to parents and grandparents throughout the day which can include video/photos to see how a kid is getting on. It's also a scheduling app so you can see if there's space within 30 mins of needing it and book your kid in on the go. There is a minimum slot of 1 hour and longer slots of up to 6 hours.
The Children’s Hub specialises in training parent co-ops which includes all facets of running a childcare co-op including children’s first aid, safe guarding and an early years programme for parents interested in creative learning methods such as Reggio Emilia and Montessori.
The Hub also facilitates a ‘Children and Babies Library of Things’ where you can borrow baby equipment, clothes and toys for as long as you need them and donate un-used items back to the community. This is a growing initiative to cut down on consumption and the commercialisation of childhood and uses principles from the collaborative and sharing economy to benefit families in Birmingham.
Although the Children’s Hub does not offer formal and statutory education the Children’s Hub supports ‘Hack Schooling’ and runs an extensive hack school programme for children, young people and families who value autonomous learning. Workshops include – free running, physical computing, survival skills, economics, social activism, veg growing, engineering, mindfulness, health and an urban forest schools programme for children up to 16 yrs old.
There is currently a large open-sourced community project to create a history curriculum that remembers the history of all people, concentrating on those currently underrepresented in mainstream historical narrative. Plus a children’s feminism series and summer school with Balsal Heath WI. Both these ideas were pitched and funded at the Family Birmingham SOUP, which is held at the Children’s Hub every month. SOUP is a democratic microgranting community lunch where community projects pitch and the audience votes on who should get all the money raised from the door.
Research is an important facet to the Children’s Hub and partnerships with the main universities mean there are often research studies and PHD students working from the hub on early years research and child development studies. The most popular research programme last year was a study on Sleep. This included a public workshop programme and unconference exploring the subject.
The centre users are diverse and the children’s hub has an integrated outreach programme and its own bus that collects families from the farthest points of the outer and inner ring road taking them to visit The Children's Hub every Saturday to coincide with a free programme of activities for families.
The Children’s Hub boasts the title of the first ever Think Tank for childhood and relentlessly lobbies local and central government for better outcomes for children and families. This has included a successful reform to early years regulation to include parent co-operatives and a campaign to recruit more men into early years work.
The Children's Hub is my response to the question: How might we make Birmingham the best place to raise children?
Care to share yours? Or can you build on this idea?
#RadicalChildcare is an initiative to explore, imagine and invest in bold new possibilities for the future of childcare.
Based in Birmingham, we want to work with parents, grandparents, professionals in the sector; commissioners, policy makers, educationalists, serial entrepreneurs and many others to develop and test radical solutions to enable children and families to thrive.
As part of our Open enquiry into the childcare system we are hosting a number of events and activities in order to involve as wide a range of perspectives as possible. If you'd like to share your thoughts or be kept informed of events, submit your contact details here.
*Please note that this piece of writing represents a 'made up' story. A Birmingham of the future, the companies mentioned are here to demonstrate my ideas/values.
Impact Hub Birmingham does exist as a network of amazing citizens, makers, doers, entrepreneurs, activists and dreamers committed to building a better Birmingham and a better world. Visit Impact Hub Birmingham's website here.
Birmingham SOUP also exists SOUP gives residents the opportunity to learn about creative projects happening in Birmingham and vote on the project that they believe is the best benefit to the community. It feeds the needs of small enterprises who require help and guidance and gives them the opportunity to pitch for micro-funding, share their project ideas and network with like-minded people. Visit Birmingham SOUP's website here.
The Land is a forthcoming documentary film about the nature of play, risk and hazard set in The Land, a Welsh "adventure” playground Plas Madoc in Wrexham. Here, children climb trees, light fires and use hammers and nails in a play-space rooted in the belief that kids are empowered when they learn to manage risks on their own.
Read an article about Plas Madoc and the ideas and people behind it here.
Yesterday was a good day. 9 parents and their children came together to work, play and interact in a new space that held everyone.
The idea was simple – get some professional childminders in a room, with some resources, toys, musical instruments, play kitchens, teepees and streamers and offer to look after people’s children whilst they worked downstairs. It was offered on a pay what you could afford basis and it worked.
Moms who hadn’t used ‘traditional’ childcare yet – either because they felt that traditional childcare wasn’t for them or because their babies were only months old, were able to gently stretch the distance between them and their babies and to see how it felt. Parents could get their head down whilst their babies played and explored with each other. Fathers were able to see what co-working was like and artist mothers could meet with their collaborators to get stuff done and best of all the children had fun. The atmosphere was (mostly) serene and moms could come and go to breastfeed and check in as much as they liked.
It was a simple intervention to enable the discussion about #radicalchildcare.
But why is this important? I believe that the lack of flexibility in the current traditional childcare model of daycare, childminders and nurseries, especially for freelance workers is suffocating. If we can join a gym on a Pay as you Go basis why is Pay as you Go childcare only a niche venture in places such as London and Brighton? What are nomadic & sporadic workers, including those re-entering work from maternity leave, home-schoolers, family carers, job seekers, etc meant to do when most settings ask that you commit to a minimum of 3 days a week and the ones offering creative education cost £50/day.
An industry largely run by private companies the best provision goes to those who can afford it rather than those who need it, our poorest children miss out. Front line workers are often young women on minimum wage, there is little professional development or career progression for these young women but yet they are given the mammoth task of helping to raise our children in their most formative years. During this #radicalchildcare journey I have heard very sad tales of prospective visits to daycare settings. One mum told me that she came back after a ‘settle session’ to find a young girl who had been given charge of her 3yr old, engaging her daughter by cutting out pictures of toys from an Argos catalogue and making a collage of what the little girl wanted for Christmas.
Government rhetoric is about ‘getting women back to work’ an economic argument, rather than one that imagines the best possible provision for our young children through this critical stage in a child’s development and it is to the detriment of everyone. EVERYone. To quote Whitney at this juncture:
‘The children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.’
But seriously, children are the ones who are vital for deciding how the world is going to be. This will be their world. But yet we are working within a deficit, within a broken system concerning their early years. The feelings surrounding childcare for parents are generally wrapped in an amount of shame, guilt and limitation and it must stop. It doesn't help.
Parent invisibility and inflexibility of provision.
The UK has a culture of invisible parenting, unlike other European cities it feels like a social taboo to bring your child to a conference or restaurant or to talk about your family commitments in a job interview or online. ‘Family’ experience is fenced in to specific events/activities/venues (often involving a Gruffalo) rather than considered as an accessibility issue. What would people with children need in order to participate in this activity, often it might just be baby changing facilities, maybe a lift or a ramp? Why do Women still fear losing their job/contract when pregnant and why are women routinely discriminated against whilst they are pregnant or after having a baby ? See: @PregnantScrewed.
The feelings of isolation and potential lack of confidence amongst stay at home parents can lead to career apathy. The feelings of guilt from parents who go out to work, full time in order to afford childcare, can seem incongruous and at odds with their choices around work/life balance. There are little examples of parents who both work and stay at home – society tells you that you should belong to one camp or the other and that you can’t have it all. You often get penalised financially for using part time childcare and there are very little examples of successful ‘flexible’ working employers and the benefits for both employer/employee.
Thinking holistically surely supported, empowered parents will make for a better society?
How you work after having children changes, as does your skills and experience. Having children can make you feel more motivated to contribute to a better society for your child’s future, but a lack of media representation and discussion on the subject suggests you must make do and get by. Rather than excel. I want to find these people, these mom-trepreneaurs, wherever they are in the world and to tell their stories. It is possible. I am sure of it.
#RadicalChildcare has entered an enquiry phase where we hope to further explore some of these ideas and opinions. We welcome people to come on this journey to explore, imagine and invest in bold new ideas for the future of childcare. Join us, take a look at #RadicalChildcare.
The co-working crèche is a pilot funded by Arts Council England and forms part of my #radicalchildcare research with Impact Hub Birmingham, Birmingham Open Media and NearNow Studio. For more information and to bag the last couple of spaces visit this LINK.
This blog post was written in May 2015.
As a new mum and as a freelance creative producer I am pondering some big questions. I love my career and I love my son. He’s only going to be small for a little while and I want to explore ways to interrogate and subvert existing models of childcare to fit my needs as a nomadic worker and mum in the 21st Century. I believe that existing childcare provision serves industrial 9-5 workers; it is over-priced and mostly average. Young women through vocational training often deliver it and it pays them poorly. Options are limited and subscription is vast.
In short it is no longer fit for purpose.
How I work now that I am a mum.
I am tired all the time, so my working day is shorter. However I am more motivated to do short bursts of productive work and I procrastinate less. I am acutely aware that my time is precious. So I want to achieve more in a short space of time. I feel that I have a better understanding of the scale and ambition of my work and I feel more ambitious now. I want to make positive changes, for him and for future generations. I want to be present in my son’s life and not be under pressure to work long hours and weekends. I don't want to run projects back-to-back, I want time to reflect and to feel that my work is strategic, timely and informed. I understand the crucial importance of networks and communities, both in my working life and in the raising of my son.
The way people work is changing.
There is no doubt that freelancing and independent working are becoming more common in the UK, with an increasing number of people realising there are alternatives to traditional full-time jobs.
Every set of annual labour market statistics since 2000 has highlighted growth in self-employment.
The freedom, flexibility and earning potential that come with being your own boss are proving attractive to many people, including parents who want to create a career that fits into family life.
Many of the reports and articles that call for childcare reform seem to only imagine childcare in economic terms. They nod to issues around poor quality provision and say that there are not enough child places available.
- The government spends approximately £6 billion a year on childcare.
- The cost of sending a toddler to nursery part-time has risen by around a third in some parts of the country, with parents now having to pay £6,000 a year on average.
The state say that more affordable provision will get women back to work and each political party has childcare as a key theme within their manifesto promises.
"The Family and Childcare Trust has called for an independent review of childcare funding so the UK can have a childcare system that delivers for children, for parents, for providers and for our economy and are working with Nesta to look at alternatives."
The Family and Childcare Trust briefing paper is available to view online here.
BUT LET'S MAKE THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE WAY PEOPLE ARE WORKING IS DIFFERENT SO THEIR NEED FOR CHILDCARE WILL BE DIFFERENT.
Let’s for the moment, imagine that it's not about money - at this point it's about the need and the method. A working financial model can come later after the provision and need has been identified.
Mothership HackerMoms in Berkeley California offer a collaborative space to share tools, intelligence & community plus an onsite childcare programme.
Hackerspace: A collaborative space where do-it-your-selfers share tools, intelligence and community. There are 1,000+ hackerspaces across the world. Mothership HackerMoms is the first-ever women’s hackerspace in the world. We offer onsite childcare through our Hacker Sprouts Kids Education program. We were founded in April 2012 by and for creative mothers and our families. Our expanding community includes hacker moms, hacker dads, non-moms and kids. HackerMoms has been widely covered in the press as a pioneer in the emerging DIY culture that’s now embracing women and children.
F L E X I B L E childcare on a Pay as you go basis for nomadic working mums/dads with onsite co-working.
Third Door is an inspiring nursery and workspace that offers easy, flexible working. Your children play downstairs whilst you work upstairs.
Parents choosing to home-educate their children is increasing with the Birmingham City Council team apparently having 50/60 new referrals each week.
The home-school community are made up of supportive parents, grandparents, ex-teachers and siblings who co-op learning, childcare and pastoral care, creating unique child centred learning experiences for their children.
A Crowd-sourced Approach...
Crowd-sourced childcare is something that freelance theatre & opera director Poppy Burton-Morgan talks about on her fantastic blog here. Poppy used Facebook to crowd-source childcare for her son, from peers saving her family thousands of pounds in childcare costs and building a strong supportive network of peers, friends and family. She talks openly about her approach and how important it is for her to be a visible parent artist. How she builds childcare costs into funding applications and encourages bringing your baby into the rehearsal room, to meetings and conferences.
It's May 2022 and this is my typical week.
My daughter Minnie is 9 months, she has 2 big brothers Buddy who's 4 and Theo who is 7.
I'm a freelance creative producer and collaborate with a bunch of different organisations to develop my projects. Today Minnie is with her nan for 2 hours in the morning as I have a workshop and then I get an email from an investor asking for a meeting, so I check the co-kid* app to see if there's space for Minnie for 2 hours.
Co-kid is housed in an old biscuit factory in Digbeth with a converted roof garden. It follows the Regio Emmilia approach, an education philosophy that is child centred based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community, through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. It is based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum. It offers flexible pay-as-go childcare, full time nursery places, summer schools, and has an open access 'hack-schooling' programme to support kids to learn through discovery and play. When a kid turns up to co-kid they are immediately entered into digital register which has functions that are much like a project management application such as basecamp or trello, mixed with whatsapp or snatchat. Updates can be sent to parents and grandparents throughout the day which can include video/photos to see how a kid is getting on. It's also a scheduling app so you can see if there's space within 30 mins of needing it and book your kid in on the go. There is a minimum slot of 1 hour and longer slots of up to 6 hours.
In a typical week I use co-kid 3/4 times a week, I also use grandparents, others moms from the network, play schemes, nursery, baby art classes - as the old adage says - it takes a village.
I have got together with Impact Hub Birmingham and Birmingham Open Media to explore the idea of radical childcare and we’d like to invite you to contribute to the discussion on Friday 17th April 12-3pm at Impact Hub Birmingham.
For all the information and to register - http://www.famalam.org/radical-childcare/