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‘It’s been a struggle’: Town’s nurseries set to re-open in June

PUBLISHED: 12:31 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:35 19 May 2020

Paulo Meireles and Carla Ferreira run Traquinas Childcare nurseries in Thetford. Picture: Conor Matchett

Paulo Meireles and Carla Ferreira run Traquinas Childcare nurseries in Thetford. Picture: Conor Matchett

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As lockdown starts to ease and the government advises that nurseries can re-open as of June 1, many parents are undecided about whether they should let their children return. Our reporter EMILY THOMSON spoke to two nursery owners from Thetford who say they are still uncertain about the future.

Traquinas Childcare in Thetford have been supporting families during the coronavirus pandemic despite being forced to close. Photo: Carla FerreiraTraquinas Childcare in Thetford have been supporting families during the coronavirus pandemic despite being forced to close. Photo: Carla Ferreira

Traquinas Childcare, in Thetford, cares for 180 children in the town and is one nursery which was left fearing for its future when lockdown was first announced more than eight weeks ago.

But now the nursery owners, Carla Ferreira and Paulo Meireles, say more than 50 of their parents would be willing to send their children back and despite feeling relieved that a date has been set for their gradual return, they expect to face new hurdles.

Ms Ferreira said: “We have been doing everything to keep our business, support our parents and members of staff – it’s been hard.

“But we have been helping the parents throughout this and they are helping us as much as they can, enough so we can pay our staff.

Traquinas Childcare in Thetford have been supporting families during the coronavirus pandemic despite being forced to close. Photo: Carla FerreiraTraquinas Childcare in Thetford have been supporting families during the coronavirus pandemic despite being forced to close. Photo: Carla Ferreira

“More than 50 parents have said they will come back and want their normal hours and days and it goes to show the amount of work we do with the families. We have had to look after each other.

“But it’s still a bit scary and a lot of parents don’t want to send their children back or don’t need to.”

MORE: Nursery owners fear they may not re-open after pandemic

Traquinas’ nurseries, located on Old Croxton Road and Raymond Street, will open for children of key workers on May 26, and as of June 1 they plan to do a staggered return for all families.

Director Ana Ribeiro (centre) with staff at Jelly Tots Nursery in their new home at the former Sure Start children's centre in Kingsway. Picture: Neil DidsburyDirector Ana Ribeiro (centre) with staff at Jelly Tots Nursery in their new home at the former Sure Start children's centre in Kingsway. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Ms Ferreira says they have put plans in place to ensure their youngsters are safe, including keeping small groups of children together with the same carer, new hand wash stations and rigorous cleaning.

But the nursery wants to ensure that all children will receive the same love and care that they have been used to.

Ms Ferreira added: “We want parents to know their children will be looked after the same as they were before.

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“But I want them to be extremely aware even if they don’t get it, they can still pass on the virus, so they need to be 100pc certain.

“We are going to be open at a loss financially, but it’s the right thing to do and we are all in this together. We have to support our parents and our staff who are dying to come back to work.”

MORE: Town’s children ‘flourishing’ at nursery’s new site

Jelly Tots Nursery, at Norfolk County Council’s Sure Start children’s centre in Kingsway, has been open for children of key workers with no childcare options from four weeks into the lockdown.

Jelly Tots Nursery has expanded and moved into the former Sure Start children's centre in Kingsway. Picture: Neil DidsburyJelly Tots Nursery has expanded and moved into the former Sure Start children's centre in Kingsway. Picture: Neil Didsbury

But Ana Ribeiro, nursery director, said they have still struggled to carry on paying their bills with less children to care for and half of their team have had to be furloughed.

Now they are also planning their full return on June 1, opening for all children on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but Ms Ribeiro said she expects only a small number of youngsters will return.

She said: “It has been a real struggle to keep paying bills and ensure the team are being supported.

“Although we are opening it is dependent on the parents and there are quite a lot who aren’t ready to send their children back yet.

“We will be opening with a lower number of children and a lot of them will be leaving us to go to school in September, so there are still quite a lot of uncertainties and I think it will be with us for months to come.”

But Jelly Tots deputy manager, Abbie Clark, said the most important thing is that Thetford’s children are still being supported during these uncertain times.

Ms Clark said: “The children really benefit from being in the nursery, from the interactions to the activities we provided.

“They have been in such a massive transition, from seeing friends and being in a normal routine, to then being confined at home, so it will be nice for them to get back.

“But the sad part for us is that we have so many going to about to go to school, who we might not see again.”


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