Throughout the pandemic, NHS workers have been at the frontline and working under immense pressure. For those with children, things were even more difficult; although children of key workers were allowed to continue attending schools and nurseries, the reality was not so straightforward.
So much key work is based on ever-changing shift patterns, often at evenings and weekends, and the family, friends and grandparents who’d provide childcare were suddenly unable to help. Some childcare settings have had to close, and many key workers have been left trying to fill in the gaps, by spending additional money on out-of-hours help or having to miss work.
One NHS parent who found herself facing this dilemma was nurse Ionna Anderson. As a single mum in London, she needed somebody to care for her one-year-old daughter while she went to work.
During the first lockdown, Ionna’s “daughter’s nursery closed last minute [and she] had no warning at all.” The stress of having to find new childcare arrangements was piled on top of her increased workload due to rising Covid cases.
At Bubble, we knew we wanted to help with this issue, which is why we partnered with the National Health Supporters (a medical student volunteer network). We redeployed the app so that medical students, as well as new and existing sitters on Bubble, could connect with NHS parents in need of volunteer babysitters.
After finding out that her daughter’s nursery was closing, Ionna needed to find a replacement – and fast. Already a Bubble user, she opened the app to look for a local sitter. “I quickly went to book someone and I was totally surprised when I found out it was free for NHS staff.” She was paired up with a volunteer, who had undergone Bubble’s rigorous safety checks. “My sitter is amazing,” says Ionna. “She’s so accommodating and I have used her twice already.”
Ionna is just one of the many parents who have benefitted from Bubble’s NHS initiative. Since launching, over 100,000 hours of childcare have been requested by NHS staff on the app. We are continuing to offer free Bubble Plus subscriptions to NHS employees, meaning that they can book childcare without paying any additional platform fees.
After an incredible response to the initiative, our goal is to keep growing the number of volunteer sitters across the UK, spread the word to NHS parents and, hopefully, open the scheme to key workers outside the NHS too. If you’re interested in signing up as an NHS parent or a volunteer sitter, please click here for more information. If you know anyone who might be interested, please forward the information onto them.