Monthly Archives: March 2011

Email from a parent

When people ask us why we do our job, it is knowing that we have made a small difference in a child’s life that motivates us. We received this email from a parent today. I am so proud of our staff –

J had to be admitted to the hospital on Friday – it was serious BUT SHE IS OK NOW.

She had meningitis – scary for us and the admittance to hospital could have been scary to her. But it was quite the opposite. She was totally fascinated and totally comfortable because “XX brought me here with Paint Pots” – “We sat over there to eat our lunch and then we visited sick people” – “I know what that is – it takes my blood pressure, I saw that with XX.”

This must have been well over a year ago but she remembered it so well and it really made her comfortable with the experience of being admitted.

I don’t know if it was XX who organised that trip but I want to thank you all very much for preparing her so well. We could never have thought that we would need that kind of preparation but it made all the difference. She knew what the nurses looked like and what the doctors wore around the necks and she understood some of the language that they used. Quite characteristically she asked lots of questions, which did get answered, such as “will I make more blood?” – when they took blood for tests.

She was not at all phased by the situation (even though mummy and daddy were rather worried).

She responded brilliantly to the mediation and was allowed home. She is now going in every morning for her anti-biotic top up and has a canula in her hand – I expect she will tell you all about it over Easter. She should be signed off on Friday from the hospital and it will be just another one of those experiences which she embraced – instead of a trauma – Thank you Paint Pots!!

Kenya Trip

Just under 2 weeks now until my trip to Kenya. There are 5 of us going – myself and 4 female companions. We are excited about the prospect. We will be visiting a nursery / orphanage run by New Life Homes, in the slum area of Kisumu.  We are taking 19 pieces of luggage between the 5 of us, all of which will be filled with donated equipment / resources. Our clothes for the trip will be in our hand luggage.  We are also visiting projects run by an organisation I contacted through the World Forum Foundation, working with Early Years practitoners across the country to improve the quality of child development through better interactions. This seems to be a bit of theme, as we have been asked to provide training on this area to the staff in Kisumu. We obviously want to get this right, so have spent a while considering what to say.

From Paint Pots point of view, I will also have the opportunity to visit the facility run by ‘To Kenya With Love’, the charity we support and raised funds for over the last couple of years. I will make sure I have a photo taken of myself standing by the climbing frame we bought them with money raised by our families.

We have just run another raffle, a cake sale and a coffee morning, raising over £800 to share between Paint Pots – for our outdoors equipment and to send to Kenya (on top of the things already donated). Our families have once again proved incredibly generous.

Next week I am going to visit the nurseries and tell the children where I am going to. I will also make a video of me interacting with children for my training sessions. If yesterday morning was anything to go by I will probably end up being Spiderman again – I’m really good at shooting pretend webs!


I was a stand-in manager for the day today. I got to play with some children – hurray!

It made a welcome change from some of the more bizarre moments of the “leadership and envisioning” events I attended earlier in the week – ‘describe the military leadership characteristics of the following chocolate bars!!’

Having helped settle the babies, built many brick towers, pressed out play-dough shapes and engaged in a long discussion with preschoolers on ages, birthdays and names – mine is apparently Mr Fish Finger (incredibly funny at the time), I set off for the office where I successfully set up a new laptop, enrolled a new family and answered some emails.

A. our ever reliable maintenance man had answered the cry for help to investigate the rather niffy smell coming from the manhole cover outside the Babies Unit. He had bravely prised open the lid to be confronted with- well, poo! Lots of it. He came in to report his findings before trotting off round the corner to collect his rods.

Why, I ask myself, did I feel it necessary, on his return, to go down and see what was happening? Why as the nursery owner employing someone to free up  the blockage in the drains, did I stand in the rain filling buckets of water and sluicing solid matter away?

Very unhappily, my shoes can testify to the need for me to improve my delegation skills.

I have already had stern words with Babies about items not to go down the loo, chief amongst these being paper towels, but how did a plastic ball make it all the way round the u-bend?

Surely this will remain one of life’s little mysteries!



Along with Mrs W, I attended our first Hampshire cluster group meeting this week. Representatives from local schools, preschools and nurseries were present. As usual, I was the only male. Mrs W entered the roon first to be greeted by one of the group facilitators – “Welcome, it’s lovely to see you, I am so glad you could make it…..” she then looked round Mrs W and spotted me in her trail, “…. oh and I see you’ve  brought hubby along as well.”

“Yes”, I replied,”I’m used to being the token male.”  Unfortunately my sarcasm was completely lost on her.

The following day I drove to Crawley (got lost and a bus ran into the back of me, but that’s a whole other story). At this Early Years Professional regional development day, I was 1 of 2 men out of the 120 people present. The morning session with Dr Margy Whalley from Pen Green, was very inspiring and we broke for lunch on an up. Lunch was very pleasant and I caught up with my colleagues from Southampton.

We started the afternoon in a workshop run by a female representative from the Fatherhood Institute. We were tasked with considering the costs of engaging fathers in our settings. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what she was on about. Following this, we had to discuss and feedback our thoughts on best practice for engaging fathers.

As I was the only man in the room, when she approached our table for input, I put my hand up and suggested that we might employ 1 or men, to which she replied, ” In my experience, the best examples I have come across of staff engaging with male carers, is by women.”

She said this dismissively as she moved briskly on to the next group. My female colleagues sat either side of me, turned simultaneously and said, “well that’s told you!”

Yes, indeed!

Ripples of Hope

‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’  Robert F Kennedy

I read this quote this morning over my bowl of cereals. Whilst I am not saying we face ‘mighty walls of oppression and resistance’ in what we do, I do believe we each generate our own tiny ripple of hope and it is my fervent wish and belief that there is a Paint Pots stream made up of each of these ripples which is strong enough for little boats to set off from the shore into fresh and exciting waters, borne along by the currents of enthusiasm, hope and joy.