KLAS Care - Paisley Daily Express Article
29/09/2021 (Engage Post )
We wanted to offer care that worked for parents
Supporting families is at the core of Linwood’s Klas Care
It was ten years ago that two Linwood mums decided to open KLAS Care in a bid to support working families across Renfrewshire.
Lesley Compston and Kirsty McKenzie launched KLAS Care back in 2010 to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable after-school care in the area.
Being working mums themselves, they were fed up with having to pay high childcare costs that didn’t always suit their needs, and they knew there must be families in the area like themselves at risk of a financial struggle due to the high fees.
The two women met after Lesley started a toddler group in the area, and soon the idea for KLAS Care was born.
Within just a few short years, their idea to help tackle in-work poverty became so successful that they became a social enterprise in a bid to help as many families as they could.
Speaking about their journey to the success they have today, Lesley said: “Being a mum of two, born and bred in Linwood and working part time, I was deeply unhappy with the mundane work and having no time with my children.
“My husband worked shifts and often worked away from home, so I found myself paying for childcare that I didn’t use due to the traditional way of childcare fees being charged full time, regardless of usage.
“During my days off, I set up a toddler group. It was here that I realised that there were many mums who were in the same position as I was.
“We formed a committee and then a charity called Linwood Active and set about regenerating the local park to create a safe place for all children and families to play and socialise.
“It was through this committee that I met my soon-to-be business partner Kirsty and together we created KLAS Care.
“The main objective of KLAS Care was to break the traditional full-time fee structure and introduce a pay as you go fees structure.
“In less than three years we became so large that we needed a business structure and, due to our impact being more important than our profit, we became a social enterprise. Our mission of tackling in-work poverty was well on the way to success.”
Their road to success was not an easy one, with a number of challenges presenting themselves as they worked to become a social enterprise.
The initial success saw them open another base in Johnstone, and in 2017 they were shortlisted for Community Champion of the Year in the ROCCO awards.
It was in 2018 that they transformed the former janitor’s house at East Fulton Primary, in Linwood, after raising £300,000 from the public and private sector.
The service - which offers childcare from 7.30am unil 6pm Monday to Friday – has been hailed as “invaluable” by parents in Renfrewshire.
They also helped provide hot meals to take home and essential shopping and toiletries for frontline workers during the pandemic.
One parent said: “They are invaluable, and I could not have done my job as a nurse without the support of KLAS Care.
“The staff are so person-centred it makes me feel confident to leave my children with them.
“I really looked forward to the home made food, I knew it would taste amazing and I didn’t have to worry about my dinner or lunch the next day.”
In the ten years since it was launched, Lesley says the highlight has been helping improve the lives of Renfrewshire families.
She also hailed her team of staff, who she says helped continue providing care for children - many of whom had key worker parents - throughout the pandemic.
She added: “We have a great team of staff, they are all champions and always ensure the children are the priority.
“They worked tirelessly through the pandemic and always had a smile and a cuddle for all the children.
“Helping families succeed and improve their life outcomes has been a big highlight for us.
“Trading for the last ten years, seven of these being a social enterprise, we have seen many people’s lives improve and for them to move on, but none of them have forgotten us and many of the children return as volunteers.”
Courtesy of Paisley Daily Express