A short history of Childspace


In April 1990 Marcus Grant and Vicky Meadows and four other families established the co-operative nursery “Childspace”. They wondered if they could find a better way to provide friendly, nurturing and affordable childcare than was on offer locally.
18 years later, Childspace is thriving. From small beginnings based in the homes of each family, spending a period in Lambeth one o’clock clubs in the morning while looking for permanent premises, it has grown into a community of 12 families employing a registered nursery worker and a part-time worker.


Although the parents who run Childspace change over time, the general set up of the organization is still the same as 18 years ago. Given the different economic challenges and changes of society, it has proven itself as a successful nursery model for families in Lambeth. Current parents, together with the nursery manager, explain to new parents how to work with their own as well as other children. They also give the framework and direction as to how to run the co-operative in general. Thereby the organizational model has been passed on “from generation to generation”. Everything works without any external support.

As co-operative we make decisions about running the nursery as a group and are closely involved in the care of our children. Parents support the nursery worker in running the sessions, take on a variety of jobs and are involved in every aspect of running a nursery.

We run small intimate sessions – there are just 7 children attending a session – for 14-months – 3 year-olds from 9am – 2pm on three days a week. Children stay at Childspace for up to 18 months.








The aims of Childspace:


-To provide affordable high quality childcare within Lambeth

-To follow the principles of a co-operative in the running of Childspace.

-To encourage collaborative and cohesive, sustainable communities.

-To bring together local families with different cultural, religious, social and financial backgrounds

-To be a place where children, parents and employees can grow and develop new skills



More details about Childspace


High quality childcare

Childspace offers affordable and high quality nursery service. It is the parental support that allows to balance good care with affordable costs. The financial background of our members is from low to middle income households.


Co-operative setup

As a non-profit organization Childspace is run on a co-operative basis by a collective of parents, together with the nursery manager. Neither parents nor manager has total control and a good working environment is achieved by a delicate balance of interconnecting roles facilitated by open communication.


Cohesive, sustainable communities

Lambeth is home for 130 languages and a “melting-pot” for ethnic minorities which represent 38% of Lambeth’s residents. Currently our members are English, American, German, Italian, Brazilian, Japanese, Caucasian, Pakistani.


Culturally sensitive provision

Childspace is a multi cultural setting, dealing with the specific needs of the children. We are providing vegetarian food or other diet requirements as e.g. halal, sugar- or diary-free meals.
Explaining and celebrating religious festivities, like Hannukah and Divali are part of our self-understanding to respect different cultures and religions. It is also to give our children an experience of our global community.


a place where parents can grow …

The setup of our social enterprise allows all parents to participate in running the co-operative. There is a minimum of mandatory work contribution in the daily sessions every other month. All parents are sharing the same rights and duties. They work together as a team, sharing the ideas of our constitution and creating a place for our children. Additional every member has a defined duty (e.g. health & safety, marketing, finance).


We don’t need professional management – we are the management”

Management roles carried out by parents are:

Employee coordinator – who supports nursery worker

Parent coordinator – who supports parents in their various roles

Finance 1 – who deals with bills

Finance 2 – who does payroll

Secretary – who deals with admin

Rota – who works out rota for parental sessions alongside you

Health & Safety – who works with you to ensure we fulfil Health & Safety requirements

Recruitment – who gets new families on board

Supplies – who buys all the rice cakes, jam, toilet rolls etc

Toys and Maintenance – who ensures toys are not broken and deals with the upkeep of the hall

Gardening and Cleaning – who organises cleaning days


Professional development

Families make themselves familiar with EYFS – Early Years Foundation Stage
which enables them to improve their childcare practice by learning about how children learn and develop, how to encourage children’s creativity, how to explore media and materials, how to develop imagination and imaginative play etc.


In addition to that, all participating parents attend seminars and courses in safeguarding children, first aid, food hygiene, inclusive practice and managing challenging behaviour.


Targeting the whole family

In fact: Childspace is more than a nursery, it is a community where kids and adults benefit. The participating children experience a creative, open minded and safe environment where their parents work to encourage a collaborative and cohesive, sustainable community. Childspace provides a unique opportunity for a nursery manager to experience a cooperative nursery.


Teamwork is key

Because of the small size of the organization everyone is involved with nearly every component of the nursery. Teamwork, integrity, tolerance, cooperation and respectfulness are fundamental values and skills we share. Childspace is not just about working together, but also about making long lasting friends.


What parents have said about Childspace:

I’m feeling very good about Childspace. And this has to do with community. Zeca is experiencing a wider community of adults. He sees us working together. There is always a buzz when we all arrive at Childspace. We don’t just drop our child off, be polite to each other for a few minutes, then rush off to work or whatever. We have a real relationship – negotiating, communicating, supporting, helping. This was exemplified in the cleaning day, which was very enjoyable. We got loads done. The children were playing and it was fun all being there together at the same time. This helped Zeca settle more. On some level, he now knows that Childspace is a place where mummy and daddy come too.” Ceri, mum of Zeca,
 Because the parents are involved in it, it helps the parents to build a support network and improve their parenting skills.”

(Marcus Grant, one of the founders. His daughter is 21 years old, studying drama at university)


We have also realised that it helps mums and dads to build up their confidence, because they are working as a part of the team, facing challenges, developing new skills.
Different training programs around the requirements of a nursery are provided by Lambeth


After a couple of years staying at home and looking after the children, I’ve lost my self confidence and was completely unsure about my own skills. Childspace is good for myself, developing new skills, working with other parents, being part of a team again. I think it is a good preparation for my plan going back to work.” Dorothea mum of Nikolas


We hope you will enjoy your time with us!




 Contact childspace(at)live.co.uk or 07954684286




Finalists for Best Social Enterprise in Lambeth Business Awards 2009 and 2010