Getting a seat at the table: a deal for Shrewsbury Road Parents

We’re a housing organisation, right? Well, sort of. Our members are certainly organising for housing justice, and that won’t change any time soon. But, as a community union, we’re ready for anything that comes our way.

So when Alphabet nurseries announced that they were closing their Shrewsbury Road branch in Forest Gate, Newham, Nurun - an ACORN member who has a child at the nursery - asked if she could help parents organise through ACORN, so they could get the best deal possible. Why not?

First, they said it was to close in April. Then when parents spoke out, they said it could be pushed back to July. Then the council said they might even keep it open as a nursery. As you can imagine, it left parents hoping for the best, but totally confused.

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So when Newham’s Children’s Centre Commissioner sent parents a letter to say he’d meet them in early February, things were looking up. But you can probably guess what happened next: yes, they never heard back from him. After weeks of emailing, writing and phoning him, he was silent, and parents were left in the dark.

They still wanted answers. It’s hard to plan for the future if you don’t know the facts. And it’s hard to get a funded nursery place in Newham, especially at short notice. So if he wouldn't answer calls and emails, parents decided to get a petition together through ACORN, and members Nurun and Javeria went down to his dockside office to hand it to him. 

The result? It worked. It’s got him to the bargaining table. He’s agreed to meet parents by next week and he’ll propose a council plan to protect children at the nursery. They haven’t quite won yet - at a minimum, parents want confirmation that it’ll be staying open until July, and that no child will be left without a local place. That’s what they’ll be fighting for when they meet.  

I think we can safely say there’s a lesson in here. If you want to get power to listen, it’s often impossible on your own. But when we are united, we stand the best chance of getting a seat at the table, and winning what we deserve.

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