Lack of after-school care gave entrepreneur a business idea

IT is said that many businesses and inventions are formed when their creator, often as a result of their personal experiences, discovers a gap in the market.

 Vicki Howe-Haysom and Angela McCann at Mont Nicolle School forest area ..Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30693141)
Vicki Howe-Haysom and Angela McCann at Mont Nicolle School forest area ..Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30693141)

This was the case for former nursery manager Angela McCann, whose business inspiration came when she was thinking about returning to work following the birth of her two children.

‘Reviewing my own options brought the difference between school hours and working hours into focus and I realised that, at that time, there was little provision for after-school care in the east of the Island,’ she explained.

Having ‘worked with children for 30 years’, the seed of an idea was born and Little Giants – the name inspired as the business ‘revolved around little people with giant personalities and tremendous potential’ – came to fruition.

Establishing the first branch of Little Giants at Trinity Primary School in 2015, the business has gone from strength to strength – despite the impact of Covid-19 – with further clubs opening at St Martin and Grouville schools and a fourth club due to launch at Mont Nicolle School in September.

‘Before setting up in any school, I undertake parent surveys and focus groups to gauge the demand for the service,’ Angela continued.

‘In each case, the response has been overwhelming and schools are now recognising that offering such a facility can be a significant influencing factor when parents consider the options for their children’s education.’

As well as running after-school clubs at each school, Angela and her team offer a breakfast club at St Martin and Mont Nicolle, while Grouville School plays host to the company’s school holiday activity club.

It is, says the former childcare lecturer, a demanding job but one which ‘always brings a smile’ to each member of staff.

‘A lot of hard work goes into planning a play-care environment. I don’t think play-care providers always get the recognition they deserve,’ she said.

‘All of our staff are extensively trained and follow a rigid procedure and guidelines set out by Children Early Years Service. We need to ensure that children enjoy, and learn from, their time at Little Giants. Play care encompasses many areas and our activities are very much focused around play types, children’s ideas, exploring the natural environment and getting involved in creative endeavours. We don’t have any electronic devices at our clubs, as I think it’s important to teach children to play and to entertain themselves – especially in today’s society, where children would rather sit with iPads and computers.’

With the clubs catering for children from the ages of four to 12, the staff – led by operations manager Vicki Howe–Haysom who had delivered childcare and playwork training programmes across Wales before joining Little Giants – are experts at developing activities which appeal to a broad age range.

‘We take full advantage of the outdoor sports facilities and play equipment at each school and we also devise activities which use the same core tools but which can be tailored to different ages and abilities,’ she explained.

And it is not just play which takes centre stage at Little Giants, with snack time providing another learning experience for the children.

‘While we provide toast and cereals at our breakfast clubs, we also offer healthy snacks at the after-school clubs,’ said Angela. ‘Sitting down for a snack is a social experience and something which introduces further skills to many of the children who may be used to having everything done for them at home.

‘We also have a Friday “Try Day” initiative at the breakfast club where we introduce foods such as croissants and waffles, which the children really enjoy, and we encourage them to give us suggestions and ideas for future snacks and activities.’

For more information, or to apply for a place at any of the clubs, visit littlegiantsjersey on Facebook, email bookings@littlegiants.org.je or call 07797 780347.

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