Even before lockdown we were fast outgrowing Forest Lane Lodge.
We do not have sole use of the building, which means that we were setting up and breaking down the equivalent of a full nursery provision each time we opened.
That, alongside not having enough storage for our donations or a private area for our minis to play safely means that things were stretched.
Our irreplaceable professional partners who descend on our building to meet mums where they feel safe and supported often found themselves squatting on the floor, working on a chair in the playroom, taking case notes on the roundabout – making do.
Then lockdown happened…..
Our staff numbers doubled, the number of mums and minis we are supporting at any given time also doubled and a half (Grew by 150%?)
All these factors are adding up to the inevitable and unsettling conclusion that – to quote the classic film – we are going to need a bigger boat.
The good news
There is a great building very close by which is vacant. It is a five minute walk from the Lodge so even if a professional, a volunteer or a vulnerable mum comes to the old building it won’t be far to get to the new one. Other massive positives are:
- There will be SO much more space,
- We will have sole use of the building. We will have a garden all to ourselves to grow flowers, veg and children,
- Our minis will have a private, safe space (indoor and out) to play,
- We will have capacity inside to invite all of our beloved professional partners such as LBWP, Health Visitors, Family Support workers, Shelter advisers, Beauticians, Reiki practitioners, dance artists, artists, theatre practitioners to come, spread out and do their thing.
We are also hoping that the space will allow for a:
- Cafe/cooking collective
- Community garden
- Digital hub
- Advice space, but most important of all
- Chatting, play and chaos and creating minis’ memories and mums’ belonging.
We could also imagine the wider community using the space for:
- Hot desking,
- Birthday parties,
- Evening classes, etc.
The not so good news
It’s a building that has been squatted in. It is in a terrible state and it is not 100% clear what state it will be in if we get possession.
To make the building what we dream it could be for our families we would need:
- Corporate or community groups to volunteer to clear the building
- Corporate or community groups to volunteer to clean and paint
- Specialist builders/developers to help with repairs
- Gardeners/landscape artists to help create a beautiful outdoor space
- Interior designers to help us imagine an amazing and magical place where mums and minis are centered
- Furniture/office suppliers to help us kit the place out
- Kitchen suppliers to help us create a beautiful collective cooking space, or
- The money to pay for any of the above that we cannot beg or borrow in-kind.
So here’s where we need your help
We know we ask a lot of you, our beautiful, bountiful community. And here we are asking again, after a year where we have all given more than we ever thought possible. But – you know – it’s just so important to show up for our most vulnerable children and mothers. The brilliant thing is that with a little time and generosity we can, together, make something really beautiful and meaningful happen.
What can you pledge?
Thank you so much, as always, for being there for our families. We will be in touch, hopefully with good news and a call to action as soon as we can.