When Scotland, like the rest of the UK, was forced into lockdown in March last year, the Indigo Childcare Group knew it had to do something not only to ensure the viability of the business, but to support the majority of families who use its services, but who had now been told to stay at home.
Overnight, Indigo saw its daily headcount of children plummet from 248 to zero. The following week, it was allowed to offer childcare services to key workers – around 15 children. The firm recognised that this would not be sustainable and knew that the support the families they served would vary.
Therefore, as part of its social and strategic commitment, Indigo conducted a survey, which found that 70 per cent of the parents that used its services had experienced a decrease in household income through job loss, redundancy or furlough. As a result, the group brought in various projects aimed to maintain contact with the families its serves; offer wellbeing and financial support; and contribute to the wider local community to help people through the pandemic.
One of those projects was Indigo Eats, which provided families with two main meals for up to four people every Wednesday during the lockdown. The initiative – which helped reduce financial pressures and allowed families to spend more time together, particularly parents working from home – delivered 16,800 meals to more than 80 households in the local community. The group also offered support to families struggling to pay their utility and shopping bills.
Another project saw the launch of Indigo TV, which offered videos of staff providing daily home learning, activities and stories for children. Indigo said the platform, which helped deliver 1,700 activity packs to over 80 families, enabled staff to keep in touch with children and it offered parents a vital resource in home learning.
The success of Indigo TV has led to the launch of Indigo at Home, a learning programme which helps parents understand the learning that takes place in its Early Years services and how it can be extended at home.
The judges described what the team at Indigo had achieved as “phenomenal”. They were impressed by how the company responded to the crisis in a way that was “personal and tailored to the families they support” and the huge impact it had on the community. “They have a strong legacy,” the judges commented. “They have learned what whole families need and are responding to that in their business plan.”
The success of Indigo’s initiative has seen it secure £1.1m in grant funding, which will help it finance the work and support the growth of the organisation moving forward.