Cairndow Community Childcare – sustaining a working population
An Suidhe Wind Farm Community Fund has supported improvements to a community-owned childcare facility with grants totalling over £16,000 between 2019 and 2022.
Cairndow Community Childcare is a community business providing affordable childcare and early learning for children aged up to five years old and indoor active play facilities for children aged six months up to 12 years. Cairndow Community Childcare is located in, and owns, a new £2 million purpose-built family centre known as ‘The Fyne Den’ in Cairndow, approximately 10 minutes drive north of Inveraray. It serves families from Cairndow, Inveraray, Furnace and surrounding communities and visitors to the area (for its active play facilities and café).
An acute labour shortage in the mid-Argyll area and a lack of childcare prevent local people from taking up employment or families with young children from moving into the area. Therefore, Cairndow Community Childcare’s childcare service is very important to the area, enabling parents and guardians to take up employment or educational opportunities. It also allows local employers to recruit current residents to positions that may be less attractive to those from further afield owing to their remote location. The organisation offers the only after-school or ‘wrap-around’ childcare service in the locality outwith term time.
In recognition of the importance of this facility to the area, the locally appointed awards panel for An Suidhe Wind Farm Community Fund made four awards to the organisation between 2019 and 2022. In 2019, £4,000 was awarded to purchase white goods, including a washing machine, dishwasher, cooker, fridge, freezer and microwave; in 2020, £4,500 was awarded to fund the development of outdoor play areas; and in 2021, £898 was awarded to support the purchase of two double strollers to take young children out and about.
A further grant of £6,793 was awarded in 2022 to enable the organisation to expand and enhance its play facilities further, including creating a new indoor space to accommodate children aged 18 to 24 months and thus free up existing play space for a growing number of younger children attending. The award also enabled more indoor and outdoor play equipment to be purchased for children with special needs.
Two outdoor play areas were developed with the 2020 award. One is designated for the preschool ‘Little Learners’ and the other as an extension to The Adventure Zone – the active play facility open to the public. A young, locally-based landscape architect carried out the work with assistance from local contractors. Natural materials were used as much as possible, and some unwanted items, such as large tractor tyres, were repurposed.
Virginia Sumsion, one of the Centre’s directors, said:
“The children love the outdoor play areas and don't mind what the weather is doing. The centre has invested in wet weather clothing to allow the children and staff to access the areas whatever the weather and fulfil their aim of spending 50% of their time outside.”
The ongoing support from the fund has helped the service to grow, with the number of children attending increasing from 14 in July 2020 to 32 in late 2022. Such growth is a key objective and measure of success for Cairndow Community Childcare.
An Suidhe Wind Farm Community Fund supports community projects benefitting those living in the areas covered by the Community Councils of: Glenorchy and Innishail (Eredine only); Inveraray; Furnace, and by Dalavich Improvement Group.