As the cost of living soars across the UK, cash-strapped London students are ditching bar work and turning to childcare instead.
A growing number of students in the capital are opting to top up their student loans by jostling as nannies, says childcare provider Koru Kids, which connects parents with nannies in their area.
Founder Rachel Carrell said the company had around 10,000 university students on its books, with a growing number of new applicants saying they no longer wanted to take traditional part-time jobs.
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‘ I’ve never felt this fear when I think about going to work’
Timisha Martin, 25, is helping out a family near her home in Islington and says she turned down more lucrative gigs because she loves childcare and ‘the chance to make such a difference in the lives of others”.
The final year student from the University of West London said: ‘I have been with my current family for two years and have built such a bond with them, I couldn’t imagine doing any other part-time job than that of nanny.
When not studying for her human resource management course, Timisha looks after two daughters, aged six and nine, and said the trio have “become very close”.
“I love being a part of their life at a very important stage in their development,” she explained. “I love it so much it doesn’t really feel like a job, I’ve never felt that fear that some people feel when they think about going to work.”
Timisha said her nanny role is much more flexible than service sector jobs, and although her studies still take a long time, she said she was “able to combine that with the time I spend to the nanny without any problem”.
Students like Timisha earn around £500 a month with Koru Kids, a UK childcare provider that specializes in recruiting, training and matching nannies with families, according to the company.
They are expected to be available at least three hours a week, but many find it easy to work longer hours due to the flexibility the job offers.
Bella Abrey, 21, is fitting into childcare around her studies of art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and described the role as a ‘good fit’ as she herself has four little brothers and sisters.
Bella, who lives in Earls Court and hopes to train as a teacher in the future, signed up for Koru Kids in August 2019 and was matched with a family who needed full childcare three years later. – noon per week.
“If it was a special occasion, we’d have ice cream, otherwise we’d go to the park,” the student said.
She added: “At home the girls had rehearsals and piano lessons. I used to play the piano so I helped where I could.
“Homework had to be done and then it was free time.
“We played board games or made our own games.”
“I like to have my weekends free”
Describing the lure of flexible working, Bella said she only likes to work during school terms, as it means she can come home during university vacations, as well as family working hours on weekdays, which start on average at 3 p.m. and end around. 6 p.m.
She said: ‘I love having my evenings free which I wouldn’t have working in a pub and I have most of my day free which I wouldn’t have in retail.
“And I love having my weekends off.”
Jenny McKimm, 21, a 2020 graduate of Wimbledon College of Arts, has been part of Koru Kids since 2018 and currently works in Sutton with her fourth family, with two children aged eight and 11.
Jenny said she wanted to pursue a career in the arts long-term, but found nannying was a great way to earn some decent money while maintaining a “flexible” schedule around her full-time studies and that she loved connecting with children.
“It’s good to be part of the family dynamic”
“I really like it,” she said. “It’s nice to be part of the family dynamic and to share experiences with parents and children.
“Anyone who comes into contact with a child has the ability to shape him as a person and it’s great to watch him grow.”
The art lover says she picks up school and helps with homework, but loves when she can do “creative things” with the kids, “like painting and crafts”.
She said: “Many students work in bars to supplement their income, but in the hospitality industry they normally don’t give you enough shifts or want you all the time.
“Nannying is much better suited to students and recent graduates.”
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Koru Kids has gained over 16,000 certified nannies into its database since its launch by London mum Rachel Carrell in 2016, and hopes to attract 2,500 new potential nannies each month.
Ms Carrell said: “The feedback we are getting is that our student applicants go to the nanny because job satisfaction and flexibility are key factors.
“We’ve found that university students make amazing nannies because they have the skills to handle the challenges young children can throw at you, from communication and analytical skills to the ability to think on their feet.”
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