Family matters

Monica in a restaurant smiling down at her baby, sat on her lap

Childcare costs can be a barrier for many parents wanting to start work or training. However, in Islington there are support services that can help – in fact, this year the council committed to quadrupling the size of the childcare bursary scheme, so that hundreds more parents will be able to get the support they need. Becky Price, manager of the council’s Family Information Service (FIS), and parent Monica Borges tell us more

I moved to London from Portugal with my three-month-old daughter in February. I’ve always worked and I wanted to do the same here in the UK. I wasn’t eligible for benefits, so having a job was the only way I could support myself and my daughter. However, in order to work, I needed childcare and this costs money.

I simply couldn’t afford the nursery fees and didn’t know what to do, so I got in touch with FIS. The team helped me to apply for a childcare bursary so I could cover nursery fees once I found a job. My application was successful. I found a full-time job, working 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday, and managed to secure my daughter a place at a nursery, using the bursary to pay the first few months’ fees.

The support I received didn’t stop there! On my first day of work I had no money for travel, so a member of the iWork team met me in the morning to put money on my oyster card. They also referred me to the IMAX team, who helped me to apply for Universal Credit, which will help cover the costs of childcare going forward.

I’ve lived in Islington all my life and joined the council in January. My job is to make sure FIS is running smoothly and to ensure parents and carers have access to support.

My team supports Islington families with children and young people up to the age of 25, and the practitioners who work with them. This includes offering a range of advice on the phone, by email and online through the Family Directory. We can help people with benefit entitlements, childcare support, accessing out of school provision, looking for things to do or supporting parents looking for work.

We can also support with free early learning applications and advise you on what you are entitled to and where there may be childcare vacancies, either at nursery or with a childminder. Our aim is to simplify the process and give you the support you need.

I’m passionate about making a difference, especially as I’m a resident. I’ve been in post for nearly six months now and I can honestly say I’ve been blown away by how dedicated the team are. They go above and beyond to help residents. Please get in touch if you think we may be able to help, or let others know if you think we can help them.

Islington’s Family Information Service (FIS) provides information and support for parents looking for childcare and can explain the range of options available to help with costs. Contact them on 020 7527 5959, via email or visit Find Your Islington to find out more.

Islington’s iWork service can help match your skills to local opportunities, if you need help finding the right job. Contact them on 020 7527 2706 or visit the jobs and careers page of the Islington Council website.

Islington’s Income Maximisation Team (IMAX) will help you work out what benefits and financial support you could be entitled to and help you make a claim. Call on 020 7527 4990 or email for support.

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