It runs like a time-bank for childcare with 15 families providing free, quality childcare for one another.
The families in the Village live across Oxfordshire and have children ranging in age from one year old to 20 years old. Families give and receive roughly equal numbers of childcare-hours, giving in whatever way they are able to, and receiving in the way that they need. They might use it to cover nights out, to catch up on a few hours of paid work, or to go to a medical appointment. It works just like the Babysitting Circles that were common in the ‘80s and ‘90s – but hours of care given and received are recorded in a spread-sheet rather than by handing over tiddlywinks counters!
By making free childcare possible, the Village supports families - particularly women - to pursue activities that are important or necessary to them, including paid or unpaid work. The Village values and respects unpaid care work, and adapts its model responsively to meet its members' changing needs. It serves as the proverbial “Village” that sometimes seems so far away when your friends are all busy and you need someone to hold your baby so that you can have a shower.
As Sarah says in this video, being in the Village has literally changed her life:
Parents find that in addition to helping to meet their practical needs for childcare, the Village also provides a strong, trusting community, and a space to share skills, knowledge and resources. Much of the care takes place out of doors, and some of the Village pop-up playgroup sessions will soon move onto the site of The Children’s Allotment. It also meets some crucial needs of children that many of the parents feel just can’t be met through traditional forms of childcare, as Chris (and Sevah) explain in this short clip: