A Helping Hand – The USW Playcentre

From my earlier blog name ‘A Student Father’ many of you may know that I am a father at University. Shocker, right? Well, I’ve had my daughter for the last three and a half years on my own, and though my parents have helped me with the odd day or two off here and there, which I’ve been grateful for, I’ve mostly done it all on my own.

I know they are proud of me, and for the first time in my life, I’m proud of myself for getting to the place where I’m at now. It may seem like a small goal to some, or not, and though I may not be getting firsts, I’ve been working as hard as I can, even with all the shit that gets thrown my way from the usual day-to-day.

So, why is it that every single time you get over an obstacle, another pops up, and not even just the ones that are in front of you. They come from all directions, from the sides, from behind you– all around you.

If I put the past to rest for a moment, and think about my future, building up to a hopefully successful career, why is it that it has to be stunted by people who have already had their chance?

I’m talking about the cuts at the University.

I mean, it was hard enough grasping at the courage to get into university, and here I am facing a stone wall, rising tall in front of me with stifling pressure. It stopped me in my tracks for a while, and this is why I’m writing about it.

So, the University want to cut the nursery they have had on campus for over 20 years. In the same email/letter that the Vice Chancellor wrote ‘Perceptions matter’ contained the same reasons for closure, such as, ‘Brexit,’ and ‘inability to break even.’

The nursery is at the top of the University, hidden away. It’s like it is in a world of its own. As you can see here, it’s quite a small and unique place.

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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard a dozen arguments and reasons why, but the sheer audacity of those same people giving excuses have astounded me.

The fact that I’ve been given reasons such as ‘the current model in the nursery is not working’, but there has been no thought, and certainly no strategy toward changing that model. When met with offers from staff such as ‘Drops in pay’, ‘apprenticeship schemes’, and ‘rises in childcare costs’ still, they met the answers with such hesitation it dribbled out of their gaze when questioned.

The conversation that was held Thursday, 6th of April, 2017. It spoke for itself when they tried to make out even though they made this decision with no plan, no idea of test and trial, no effort, that they were still trying to do their best to keep the nursery open was disreputable.

I suppose attitudes like that are one of the reasons why our university has dropped more than twenty ranks since these people have been in these decision-making positions.

It’s okay though, blame Brexit, right?

Wrong.

The passion this has brought out of me is new for me, but the fact that I’ve moved from my hometown to a place I’ve never been to, and though it’s only twenty miles away from where I used to live, it can feel very isolated. I’ve been here for a while now, and I was so worried when I arrived here, searching for childcare, hearing of the horrors of what childcare centres can be like nowadays.

I remember the first time I walked into the USW Playcentre, and immediately, as soon as I walked through the door, I felt safe. I knew that my daughter would be safe here. Just from an email the manager remembered my position, understood how hard it must have been to come up here, and made us feel comfortable. Every decoration on the wall was made by the children– I mean, it was amazing.

I mean, they give gardening lessons, music/dance lessons, and even Welsh lessons… when it came down to the fact that all their food is homemade as well, it was enough for me to sign the papers and get my daughter there. As well as all those things, the children even get to go on a little walk up to a woodland area:

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When I signed those papers, I never considered that I would be confronted with the idea of it closing. I suppose you never do when such a place has been there for as long as you’ve been alive, but the thought of it closing spread quickly. You could see the determined fire lighting in every parent, and every staff member’s eyes as we all suddenly amalgamated together as one unit to march down the road fighting for its survival.

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So, all in all, this nursery has been an absolute saviour for me and considering I don’t have a partner to lean on, and my parents are unable to have my daughter full time, it is a necessity for my study.

I think, and not just because my daughter attends the nursery, but it will crush so many students/staff members if that nursery closes because it is filled to the brim with smiling adults and children alike, and it genuinely is a community building that is timeless. Its value is ageless, and it certainly does bring everyone together.

So, as the vice chancellor said in her letter, ‘perceptions matter’ this perception should be clung onto because, without it, this university will undoubtedly be worse off.

But, don’t take my word for it:

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