Lets start at the beginning
Gosh it seems so long ago..
I know lots of you will have read this before so I’ll try and throw in a few bits you don’t know rather than the professional “We set up 4 Cheeky Monkeys as we were disappointed at the lack of affordable, supportive, daily, accessible amenities for families within the Sale area”…which is 100% true but I’ll make the following a bit more informal.
Back in 2008 I started a Foundation degree in Early Years Child Hood studies, at the time everyone thought I was a bit crazy due to the fact I worked full time as a childminder, I was a single mum of two boys (my youngest was 8 months old) and my parents we’re very poorly, they both had cancer.
I remember my tutor asking me if I really thought I should be enrolling, I said yes because there’s never “a perfect time” to do anything – you can’t ever predict what’s round the corner. The course was hard but I enjoyed every minute and I learnt so much.
Sadly my dad passed away during my final year.
Once my course was complete (I passed YAY) health wise my mum was better and in remission, she registered as my assistant and we worked together childminding.
I always spoke to my mum about how important I thought toddlers groups were but I found:
- The boys would just run round the open space not really engaging in anything.
- The toys often didn’t have batteries in or were broken.
- I had noticed the adults didn’t engage with their children (at all!) it was more of an adults social. I know I have done this as a mum a few times however I wasn’t a mum in these situations I was being paid to do a job, looking after the children in my care, so I would sit on the floor and play with them and generally be where they were.
- None of the groups had outdoor play and my children (childminded and my own) thrived in outdoor play.
It was through these conversations we started to discuss opening our own group or just a bigger setting to childmind in, my two bed house just wasn’t big enough.
We looked at a couple of buildings in Sale however the old scout hut on Dawlish Road kept popping back up in the conversations we had.
Finding out who owned the building took about 6 months, no one seemed to know who it belonged too, I contacted Trafford Council, the scouting association, the local parish church and then Trafford Council again.
Finally they found it did belong to Trafford Council and we arranged to view it, this is what it looked like, not our first visit and believe it or not this was after some work had been done…
Honestly its only now looking back I see what a state it was in, back then we were over the moon.
We could see so much potential in the setting, we could vision what it would be like, I don’t think I registered just how derelict it had become over the 18 years it had been closed.
Once the council had agreed we could buy the property I took people down to see it – they looked at me as if was crazy.
Undeterred by our friends lack of excitement we started the renovations using our own personal savings, which wasn’t very much when you look at the work the property needed, as you can imagine it ran out in no time.
That was when I started to look for help and support… (to be continued in our next blog)