Here at pocketnannies we do love a bit of Twitter. Leo from PlayPen got in touch with us when we tweeted asking anyone if they would like to feature on pocketnannies. PlayPen is her new co-working space in Mile End. If you’re a busy blogging parent or freelancer why not check out this new childcare concept – it looks like a lovely space for children to be cared in whilst you crack on with your work without any little disruptions.
Where did the concept for PlayPen co-working space come from? (We’ve seen Cooksyard. Is the option of childcare alongside the office your new venture)?
It was only once I became a parent myself that I realised the challenges that so many parents are facing in finding affordable, and flexible, childcare. It seemed that although strides are being made to improve options for people to work and be employed on flexible terms, that the options for flexible drop-in childcare haven’t yet caught up. As I was already running a co-working space and had experience in that, I thought that an interesting new work venture might be for me to try and start a workspace with a crèche. I then spent a long time researching this idea and coming across existing models in the marketplace (Third Door, Officreche, Bloomsbury Beginnings). Although I originally had planned to open a permanent workspace with full crèche facilities I eventually decided to go for a more manageable smaller scale ‘pop up’ model for the business.
Please outline the services that PlayPen provide?
Based at the St.Paul’s Way Community Centre, PlayPen gives working parents the chance to get busy on their laptops and enjoy coffee and cake in the Paper & Cup Café while their children are busy playing in the crèche next door.
Currently we run a weekly PlayPen session every Thursday morning from 930-12noon, at a fantastic crèche and workspace/café in Mile End. The crèche is open to children from 6 months – 5 years old, and costs £15/session.
I’m not sure currently how we will expand the project in the future but given the interest and enthusiasm for PlayPen I hope that we can launch somewhere else soon and/or partner with someone else on a similar project.
How can parents ensure this is the right place for them?
The crèche at St Pauls Way is Ofsted registered and is staffed by experienced childcare professionals. Having only recently opened, the crèche is in great condition with lots of toys and play options for the children. The Paper & Cup cafe right next door, where parents work, is a lovely environment; the café offers free wifi and private meeting areas can be hired too.
We can also sometimes offer parents a free taster session at PlayPen to see the space and see if their child will be happy with the surroundings and creche staff. However, if we are fully booked on any particular day (we only have 8 slots each week and as it stands we are booking out each week) then the value of the taster session is a bit more limited as parents do need to stay with their child in the creche rather than head next door to work, to enable us to ensure the correct child to staff ratios.
Can children come and go throughout the session? (Or is there a set drop off and pick up time)?
Parents are able to turn up at our PlayPen session at any time, but we do need to charge the full session rate of £15 regardless of the arrival time.
Can parents drop in to see their children the session?
Although the crèche and staff at PlayPen are both very welcoming, we understand that some children might initially not be completely comfortable in a new environment. However to avoid too much disruption for the children the crèche workers do prefer parents to leave the crèche after first settling a child. If the child remains unhappy for any period of time then the crèche workers will come out to the café to find the parent to ask them to come back in (rather than the parent staying in the crèche indefinitely).