A bright start for Islington families
Having young children is a wonderful time, but also one that brings challenges. All families need help and support at some stage as their children grow up. Bright Start Islington is the new name for Islington’s services and activities for under-fives and families. It aims to make it easy for all families in the borough to get professional advice and to have fun and safe places to play with their children and meet other local parents.
Bright Start Islington offers childcare and education, including a number of free and subsidised childcare schemes. It also offers lots of activities and services, such as antenatal appointments, breastfeeding support, stay and plays, and help to find work. Almost all of these are free.
You can find Bright Start Islington services and activities in any of the 16 children’s centres, as well as health centres, libraries and community centres. Some services, such as health visiting and family support, are also provided in your home.
Jaylon enjoys attending sessions at Packington Children’s Centre
Nikita’s Bright Start story
Islington mum Nikita Batchelor has first-hand experience of the difference that the right support, at the right time, can make. As a young mother with a small baby, she knew she wanted to return to education, and she approached Packington Children’s Centre for part-time childcare. She says: “I was nervous leaving my baby, as he was still quite young. But I needed to get back into education, so this was the only way.”
Her son Jaylen, who is starting school this September, joined the nursery at Packington at 10 months-old and Nikita has never looked back. She says: “When we went round to view the nursery he kept wanting to get down and play. The staff were really welcoming and Jaylen connected really well with his key person.”
Knowing that her son was being well cared for enabled Nikita to complete a professional catering course, which she completed with flying colours and went onto do an apprenticeship with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. “I was doing long shifts and some weekends, so I couldn’t have managed without the nursery place,” she says.
After her apprenticeship, Nikita went straight into a demi-chef position and has now worked her way up into more senior catering roles. She is thriving and so is Jaylen. She says: “He’s quite forward for his age group; he does really well with his reading, counting, and generally with all of his development.”
Free early education
Good quality childcare and early education is at the heart of Bright Start Islington’s offer. Free and subsidised places are available at a wide range of nurseries and with childminders. Parents with 2, 3 and 4 year olds can benefit from free early education and childcare which can provide 15 or 30 hours per week free during term-time, depending on eligibility. Find out more here.
Visit the Bright Start website for more information. You can also contact the Family Information Service on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7527 5959, or speak to staff in any Islington children’s centre.