A Day To Remember   Leave a comment

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It is a good thing that the day in question, was a day to remember because due to my ill health and the necessary medication making days roll into weeks and weeks into months , it has been months since that day in January 2018 when I received a Honorary Life Membership to NEYTCO.

You may be wondering why I was given this honour – and so I will explain…….

I was part of a series of discussions( not the very first ones, but some of the very early ones)  about the need for an organisation to represent early years trainers and consultants, and the need to find a way provide quality assurance, and support.  Up to this point  trainers and consultants had sort of ‘done their own thing’ and to be honest before 2010 most trainers had been linked to Local Authorities (LA’s) in one way or another, in that they were either employed directly by the LA’s as staff members, or the LA’s commissioned the trainer to their set criteria and bench marking. However, things were changing and Government cut backs meant LA’s were having to reduce staff levels, and reduce the amount of training they offered – especially the free training. Although we did not know at the time just how bad things would become there was a general ‘gut feeling’ within the sector that we were on a crest of a wave of change – and that change could spell disaster but also could create opportunities for individuals. The one thing that was clear was that to prevent a disaster, we would need to take control and ensure any training and consultancy was of the highest quality, and that standards were set and maintained. This together with the fact the we were about to take a collective step into the unknown meant there would be a huge need for support – 2 way support as no one would have all the answers, no one would have had experience – or at least not all the range of experiences, and so we would need to support each other in many different ways.

In the days before NEYTCO even had a name, I was involved in discussions by phone, by email and at meetings. I would take time off from my day job as a childminder to attend meetings in London. I felt this was important so that I could represent the views of my childminding colleagues to ensure there was joined up thinking across the sector, because childminders were still not seen as equal professionals. Their unique situation of working alone in most cases (or maybe with one other person), and so needing to have an understanding of all aspects; their need for affordable training because income from childminding was limited due to ratio’s – but with every childminder still needing to have training to comply with the EYFS; the time restrictions due to the extended working hours, and the legal inability to leave someone else to run the setting on training days, and so needing evening and weekend training; the need for trainers who preferably had childminder experience or had an understanding of childminding because had used a childminder for their own children’s care. Due to all of these reason I felt it was important that childminders were represented at these meetings. Luckily Laura Henry who founded NEYTCO and who had the vision for what was needed, agreed and so actively encouraged me to be involved. Actually she did more than that, she opened doors for me to carry out this self appointed role as childminders ambassador , and asked me if I would take on the volunteer role as Lead Person for the West Midlands.

I agreed and became even more involved, I was lucky that I had understanding and supportive parents using my childminding service, who provided I gave them sufficient notice would arrange for alternative childcare for their children, so that I could attend meetings in London.

And so it was that I became involved and was invited to attend the launch of NEYTCO in December 2014. You can read about the NEYTCO launch in this blog which I wrote at the time.

https://pennysplacechildminding.com/2014/12/17/a-day-in-london-for-the-launch-of-neytco-national-early-years-trainers-and-consultants/

My involvement with NEYTCO continued to be very active, as I organised the West Midlands events and shared news and information, and as I continued to attend NEYTCO events. You can read about one of those NETCO events by clicking on this link

https://pennysplacechildminding.com/2015/05/17/neytco-an-evening-with-14th-may-2015/

Things were all going to plan, and in May 2016 I retired as a registered childminder, fully intending to become a full blown trainer and consultant (and maybe write a book or two). I had had ‘early days’ conversations with Sally, a childminding colleague about the possibility of launching a specialist childminder training company under the umbrella of NEYTCO. Everything was looking very positive and my dream of ‘making a difference’ within childminding  and to benefit children and families was on the verge of becoming a reality.

BUT THEN ….

…… everything stopped in February 2017, I became very ill, doctors did not know what was wrong, I saw many consultants, had many tests, scans and so on. The only thing I knew was I was in the most awful, constant pain, I could not walk , or lift things or care for myself. I needed constant pain relief and constant support from family and friends.

All my plans were halted, the future looked bleak and due to financial difficulties, I knew I was going to have to make really difficult decisions about my future. I could no longer volunteer – including the volunteering I did for NEYTCO, and because no one knew what was wrong with me, it was proving difficult to access benefits , and I knew that without any personal income, I would not be able to renew my memberships to NEYTCO or any of the other Early Years membership organisations that I belonged to – and this in turn would mean I could not attend events (assuming I was physically able to), I would not get member magazines or emails, which in turn would make it difficult for me to remain up to date – to have my eye on the ball. I tried not to think about it too much as the mere thought was very depressing.

And then just before Christmas 2017, I received a completely unexpected phone call from Juliette the admin person (and a whole lot more) for NEYTCO. She wanted to know if I would be able to attend the next West Midlands  members meeting in January 2018.

I said I was not sure because I could not drive far, I could not meet my own care needs and I tired very quickly. OH said Juliette, we very much hope you can because we want to award you with a Honorary Life Membership to NETYTCO. You could have knocked me over with a feather – I was not expecting that all! Then I became excited not only about the award but about the possibility of seeing some of my NEYTCO colleagues, as while I had been ill, I had become very isolated. So I promised Juliette that I would do very best to be there and set about finding a friend who would be willing to drive me to the meeting, and to help with my personal needs.

I found such a person in my friend and ex LA colleague Lynn Edwards. Lynn had been going through her own difficult time and we had not seen each other for over a year – but Lynn kindly offered to collect me from my home, to drive me to the meeting, to stay with me all through the meeting and then drive me home. I was so excited as I was going to the meeting and going to spend time catching up with my friend.

My award  presentation was at the end of the meeting (which in itself was interesting, and both Lynn and myself took an active part), we had a lovely buffet where Juliette had taken the trouble to ensure my dietary needs were met. The venue (at one of NEYTCO’s members training rooms), was ideal as on one level and with a super disabled toilet.

Catriona Neson CEO of NEYTCO (who can be seen in the photo at the beginning of this blog) did a little speech before presenting me with my certificate – the speech was all about NEYTCO and my role since the formation – and the role they hope I will play once I am better. I really hope I do get better and that I can be an active member and volunteer in the future. Volunteering is part of who I am, engaging with the early years sector is what I do, so in a nut shell myself and NEYTCO are bound together in many ways.

For me though the best bit of the whole day – beside the networking, the genuine love shown to me, the lovely buffet and so on – the best bit was contained in Catriona’s speech. It appears that not only do I have a Life time membership and will never have to pay a single penny in membership fees, I will also get all the member benefits including the fantastic weekly updates sent by email –  I can also attend any member event without paying to attend – all I will have to do is a) get better so I can travel, b) cover my own travel costs and where needed accommodation cost.

Catriona – NEYTCO – I can not express how much this means to me – you are giving me the opportunity to keep in touch, to keep updated, and as and when I am well enough to attend member events. This is a lifeline to me – I am not going to left ‘out in the cold’, I am going to continue to be very much part of the warm, loving NEYTCO family.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart – If there is anything I can do to help NEYTCO – just ask. I hope that as I recover, I will be able to represent NEYTCO – and all it stands for – and as intended by Laura Henry when she founded NEYTCO, and as discussed in those early days meetings – everyone supporting each other, in whatever way they can.

 

If readers of this blog would like to find out more about NEYTCO please click on this link

https://www.neytco.co.uk/

 

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