Our letter to our local MP

Dear Dr Evans

I am writing to you in my position as Managing Director of Priesthills Nursery Ltd. We own and manage 2 large nurseries in your constituency. We currently care for around 215 young children and employ over 50 staff.

We received Boris Johnson’s news regarding Early Years settings to remain open with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, we are relieved that the financial position of our business won’t be weakened any further and we remain in a position to hold open jobs for all of our staff, as we have throughout the pandemic. We have thus far been ineligible for any grants and whilst the Furlough scheme has been welcomed, it has in no way met the continuing costs of our business. During the first lock down, we remained open for key workers at a cost to the business in excess of £1,000 per week. Despite the lack of financial support from the County Council, we made the decision to continue with our key worker offering as ultimately, we felt that this was the right thing to do.

We are also all really pleased to be able to continue to ‘do our bit’ during the pandemic and support working parents, many of whom are key workers and all of whom support our fragile economy.

Most of all, we are grateful to be able to continue doing what we do best, providing exceptional care and education to young children; offering stability, routine and a sense of normality during this very difficult period.

On the flip side, we remain duly concerned for our staff teams who continue to put themselves on the front line, day in, day out. We work in an incredibly busy environment where social distancing is almost impossible and PPE ineffective. Over the last few months, we have had 11 staff test positive for Covid-19 as well as some of their family members. We have had a full nursery closure for 2 weeks as well as 2 separate bubble closures.

Several of our staff are also struggling to obtain key worker places at school for their own children, despite government promises, as the schools do their best to manage their own circumstances with very little notice.

If the government requires us to continue to provide the front line service that we do, we would respectfully request that Early Years staff be given the recognition they deserve and that we be considered as high priority for the vaccine in order that we can protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and continue to provide the vital service that we do.

Kind Regards

Sarah Payne Managing Director Priesthills Nurseries

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