WOMEN who achieved their ambitions to become professional child carers are to have a stake in their own company in the first social enterprise of its kind in the UK.
The innovative step by social entrepreneur Angela Brown to work with her former students to create The Childcare People gives the women a career and shares in a business.
The enterprise has started in South Tyneside but already has plans to expand across the North East.
At the launch Foreign Secretary and South Shields MP David Miliband said: “This is a national first that’s good for children in South Tyneside, good for adults and good for the whole community. I know it’s been a product of a huge amount of hard work on the part of the people involved.
“It’s tough being a parent and to say childcare is only a matter for them doesn’t meet the needs of a modern society.
“The fact that you have come together to create a social enterprise is taking not only childcare seriously but is also taking entrepreneurship seriously.”
Many of the women involved left school in South Tyneside with few prospects. They were put on the path to professional qualifications via their local SureStart centres who commissioned training from Angela’s Childcare and Early Years and Playwork Academy, Training in Childcare Ltd of Boldon.
Angela said: “We devised the Esteem programme in 2001 for adults who had reached a stage in their lives where they were ready to embark on, in many cases, their first professional training.
For many it was an enormous step to take – they had not succeeded at school and going back to formal education took a lot of courage. We worked with them and supported them to buildup their self-confidence, hence the name of the project.”
“However, despite the need for high quality childcare and early years education professionals in this country, many of the by now highly qualified women found there were no jobs available.”
The result was The Childcare People, a social enterprise established and co-owned by Training in Childcare, South Tyneside Council’s Social Enterprise Trust and the women themselves. It provides staff for school clubs, midday supervisors and playground assistants in schools, permanent and temporary crèche facilities, nursery officers, classroom assistants and respite care.
Angela said: “Forty women are involved at the moment. It will grow as more come forward and go through our training and the service expands to Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland.”
Northumberland-based Geof Cox, who travels the world exploring social enterprises, added: “The model we are implementing in South Tyneside is the first of its kind in the country, although other areas are looking at something similar.”