Zoe Rae

Nursery Owner, Goldsmiths Community Nursery

What was a typical work day like before the corona crisis?
Life was super busy! We had just opened our new baby room and were slowly welcoming new families. We had recruited for other team members and were in the middle or rebranding from a Preschool to a Nursery. We were going from strength to strength, especially as we have only been open three years .

When the outbreak started, what was your initial reaction?
I have to help! I was a ball of emotions, I didn’t want to close our doors, I wanted to help my families and felt that I had to protect my amazing team too. We are going to do what it takes now and we will worry later!

What impact did this have on your day job and how did you adapt?
We had to adapt the nursery environment to meet the children’s needs while keeping the environment safe. We closed off areas, purchased lots of cleaning supplies, discussed safety measures and looked at how we would manage food supplies. Then we moved online for the families not in the nursery with us! We filmed group time sessions that were uploaded to our online journals – we had a little trouble, but we managed!

We remain open for three days a week and are keeping in touch all hours to help support families where we can. We have even helped provide food parcels to families in need from donations from our superstar families. The days I was not at nursery I helped a local team to make face shields for our local hospitals where some of our families work, and we loved receiving pictures of them using these to help keep themselves safe .

What are the big challenges you have faced / are facing as the pandemic continues?
I think the biggest challenge, other than the worry of the nursery’s financial stability, is the battle with emotions. We just want our families back with us, we want the nursery full of children singing and happy, we want to have those little chats with our parents to catch up on their weekends and share experiences. Missing our families is painful, especially as we are exactly who we are because of them.

How have you kept going through the tough times?
It has really helped to know that I can be completely transparent with my families and that they are as supportive as ever. Knowing that in my heart I am doing the right things by helping now, no matter what that might look like in a few months, and knowing that my team are just as eager to help as I am.

What acts of kindness have you seen or shown that have made you smile recently?
One of our families is bringing us in breakfast each week. Homemade cinnamon buns and banana bread always goes down a treat. I am also watching my team help our families, by reassuring them each day and looking after the children as if they are their family too.

I am also very proud of my husband who has been out in the local community offering his plumbing services for free to all Key Worker families. 

What has this crisis taught you – both professionally and on a personal level?
That nothing fulfils you more than following your heart and doing the right thing.

How are you trying to stay happy and healthy?
I am happy knowing I am helping, I have felt scared and worried at times, but then I jump on our staff group chat and they make me giggle, or I receive a warm email from a parent expressing their gratitude and my heart is happy again. This is what keeps my mind healthy.


To find out more about Goldsmiths Community Nursery – visit their Facebook page.