When I was very young, my Mum would volunteer at the local play group. I remember the smell of the powder paint, dressing up, playing in the home corner and how kind the helpers were if I ever became upset.
Fast forward to my early twenties, I had completed an NNEB at Brixton College and I was working as a Nursery Nurse for a Day Nursery on an estate in Peckham, South London. My eyes were opened to the struggle that many of the families faced when raising children, working long hours and upholding their family traditions and culture. I learnt about the true sense of community, and that whatever their background, parents want the same for their child; care & kindness, an environment in which they can learn and express themselves, fun , a respect for their uniqueness and equality for their way of life, their beliefs and faith.
I spent many, many years working with families in Southwark, and my life has been enriched by learning from others.
In 2001 our son was born, I returned to work when he was nine months old. Having a child of your own is amazing, it also turns your life inside-out! The tiredness, the hundred and one jobs that need to be done, the exploding nappy, as you are just going out the door. The worry that they are okay without you...
By 2005 my life changed in a different direction. Due to a change in funding priorities in Southwark Council the Community Nursery that I was managing is struggling for survival. With a family of our own, Peter, my husband, and I decided to use our skills and experiences to set up a small nursery of our own. And so our Lemongrove Nursery journey begins.
In my mind there has always been four areas that contribute to the nursery being the best it can be.
Firstly, we have always set out to provide a consistent, child focused day, where the children are cared for by experienced and dedicated adults who are enthusiastic about their working life and offer an abundance of play opportunities. That the staff team build a rapport with the children and can support them to grow, develop, learn and have fun.
Secondly, to offer Parents and families a warm welcome, to find out about the way things are done at home and to meet these needs. For Parents to receive an excellent service, and for the staff team to be professional, well qualified and to install confidence. To offer the Children and Parents an environment that is vibrant, well equipped and resourced, clean, and just the right size so that everyone can feel they belong.
We understand the importance of team work and celebrating the different skills that each person brings. Work is a big part of everyone's life and so we have always set out to offer the staff team a friendly, professional environment, good leadership, clear lines of communication and support. To encourage all staff to participate in continuous professional development, as this helps to enrich the individual and to strengthen the team.
Finally, to provide for our family and to have a good work, life experience. People often ask why there is only one Lemongrove, and maybe there should be more. But at the very heart of this, Lemongrove’s purpose is to have the connection to all people, whether it be; Parents with a newborn, seeing every child of the family come to the nursery or a member of the staff team who has fulfilled their dream of becoming a Parent themselves.