What is "Radical Childcare"? A/UK joined in with the answers at Birmingham Impact Hub

We spoke at a thrilling event in Birmingham Impact Hub over two days this week - invited by our regular contributor Indy Johar, and the director of the Hub Imandeep Kaur. It was entitled Radical Childcare. We'll reflect more deeply on it later on in the week, but here's a quick map of its sources, and pointers to some of its extraordinary speakers. 

ImpactHubBrum began this two years ago with this statement:

Children as citizens and changemakers

Children remain mostly invisible in our cities, access to good quality play is becoming compromised and the Private Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector – the main deliverer of the government’s free childcare scheme – is also facing chronic underfunding.

Coupled with poor pay for workers, a highly gendered workforce and parents experiencing multiple levels of discrimination and/or lack of support, especially during the early years, it soon became clear that our efforts should become focused on a wider systems-focused movement.

Recognising that some parts of our city are home to over 46% of children living in poor households, we started to imagine a movement that could deploy financial, human and social capital to invest in a better future for Birmingham’s children and so #RadicalChildcare was born.

Children and families at the forefront

We believe that children and families should be at the forefront of the #RadicalChildcare movement. We are already seeing huge benefits in designing an intergenerational learning community, a place where families can co-construct safer, healthier, more resilient communities together and continue to welcome children and families to join the community - whether as part of our Children's membership, or other programmes and events.

We were given some striking info-graphics on conditions for children in Birmingham - which compel some urgency for change:

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We had been assembled as speakers to bring own perspectives to what a "radical childcare" might be. 

A striking presentation was from Sam Williams, with the architectural consultancy ARUP, who had pulled together a guide to building for "Child-Friendly Cities". This had, he proudly told us, become their most popular download (and here it is).

From the booklet, the image on the left has a powerful quote from the Mayor of Bogota on children as an "indicator species" - when they flourish in a city, the whole city flourishes. 

But ARUP had also provided a very handy checklist of small, do-able interventions that can make a city/town/parish/district into a more child-friendly zone - posted below:

Pat Kane, A/UK co-initiator, followed Sam to present his take on Radical Childcare from a "play ethic" perspective (the title of his 2004 book). (NOTE: Indra Adnan, our other co-initiator, presented the next morning - her slides to follow)

We joined in with a little workshopping around our favourite ideas for a radical childcare. This was some of the A/UK's production, but we will distribute the collective wisdom when it appears: 


This is only a brief sample of a rich pudding of an event - which brought together many disciplines, much ground-level practice, and a few expectant mothers in the mix. We are excited to have been part of this, and are looking forward to their great synthesis and plan to come. It's also a sign of Birmingham's massive potential as a creative and humane megalopolis - which we hope to stay in close touch with.