How do you successfully balance being a parent, having a supportive network and earning an income? RSA supported project Bloomsbury Beginnings is exploring some solutions to this dilemma through our new crowdfunding campaign to create a pop up co-working space for parents at a community garden in central London.
The challenge is one most of us will face at some point in our adult lives: in 2015, 13.8 million children under 16 lived at home in the UK, 4 million of whom were under 5. It is an issue that drives gender inequality more than any other, with mothers taking on most of the childcare and household responsibilities, likely not to be working, feeling isolated and at much higher risk of domestic violence during the early years of parenthood.
So can a parent friendly co-working community help oil the wheels of the local economy, promote better parenting and help challenge inequality? The setting for our campaign is the Calthorpe Project: a hidden garden oasis and café around the corner from Kings Cross that has been providing services for families over the last 30 years. Our hope is to provide a welcoming, professional space where parents can work, learn new skills and collaborate while their little ones are looked after in a crèche next door.
Our customers (we have had 90+ attending our training courses, and more than 120 using the co-working facility) have asked for better lighting; less wobbly tables, dedicated spaces for quiet work, training and socialising; brighter décor and more professional audio visual and recording equipment so that they can access our courses on line when they can’t be there in person. Our partners who also use the space (for example the café, refugee support group, scouts and older peoples’ gardening group) would love to see those improvements too.
As a mum of two, the order of priorities inevitably changes. Trying to manage a timetable in which I could blend work with the childrens’ everyday lives, I found myself needing an alternative way to do things.
- Bloomsbury Beginnings’ customer
At the half way point in the campaign, we’ve raised 50% of our target, and more importantly, engaged lots of new partners: RSA fellows with an interest in our cause, local businesses who want to provide their staff with a flexible work place, individual parents who want to start or run a business, organisations that want to support families, entrepreneurs or the Kings Cross neighbourhood. The Co-Working Space Company has provided invaluable expertise on design, the Calthorpe Project’s older peoples’ group are sewing cushions and the leader of Camden Council is taking a very active interest in our initiative.
Could you help us reach our target, by donating money, your time, equipment or expertise to refurbish our co-working space? We’d also love to hear from you if you are interested in ways of tackling the challenges of work, community and parenthood. Watch our video and find out more about what we are trying to achieve.