Local resident Rosie Cooper has taken on what she describes as a rather 'unsexy' task; running baby and toddler activities. The parents of Tottenham are no doubt grateful though, as her venture Skidaddle Kids N17 runs several weekly fun sessions for the little ones, and often includes some adult activities, such as a glass of wine or cup of coffee, as part of the experience. Rachel Ho caught up with Rosie to find out more.
Where did you grow up and what did your parents do?
I grew up in the midlands, Leicestershire. My parents were both in manufacturing, back in the seventies and eighties the area was known for its hosiery, knickers, shoe and boot industry.
I moved to London in the late eighties after I finished nanny college where we were encouraged, among other things, to learn how to ride a horse correctly and ‘smock'!
Photo supplied: Rosie Cooper, founder of Skidaddle Kids
For most of my early career I lived in Islington and Highbury as a nanny. I looked after the children of journalists, doctors, actors and other professionals. Sometimes it was live in work and I was usually on call.
When I had my own kids I moved to Stoke Newington. My friends thought it radical and a bad move at the time, but it was affordable!
My first business venture was a nanny agency in 1996 in Stoke Newington. We were one of the first agencies that specialised in part time places for children. Before this time most women had to work full time or not at all. Times were changing and job shares or working from home were beginning to be a possibility for women. My agency introduced fees for one, two and three day placements, instead of the huge full time fee that other agencies charged.
Describe your relationship to Tottenham.
A change of partner eight years ago meant a move to Tottenham, which I wasn't too happy about at the time. However even back then Tottenham reminded me of Stoke Newington in the early nineties; gritty, creative, buzzing, colourful with a huge heart.
What is Skidaddle Kids and how did it come about?
Children have always been my passion and I have always had a huge affinity with them.
The little ones in Tottenham deserve fantastic play facilities and starting Skidaddle gave me the opportunity to give something to involve myself in and help the community at the same time.
Some new mothers feel overwhelmed and lonely and a number in the borough have no close relatives to help them. Being able to pass on my advice, give a listening ear or make them a cup of tea is such a little but rewarding thing for me.
The Skidaddle sessions follow the early years national curriculum, in a very gentle way. Each class will have a different theme and includes a craft activity, music, story telling, messy and sensory tubs.
My sessions may not suit everyone and I like to keep it real. We have adult playlists plus time before and after the session to sit with a cuppa on the sofa and chat. And the timing of the group is quite flexible, something I call 'Tottenham Time', which allows for the often hectic schedules of parents and carers.
What advice would you give to women who want to run activities for children?
It has been a challenge setting up the business. I've had no funding and any profits go straight back into Skidaddle to buy new prop and equipment. I currently don't make any money personally and my kind husband supports me to pursue this passion.
Session in pubs, cafes and restaurants always seem to attract the most interest from people. Babies and children’s activities are not deemed, sexy (quite rightly) or exciting, and it’s a real task to get us out there in Tottenham, so it's good to have sessions in places where parents feel comfortable.
As a woman and mother, how do you think the Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?
The change I've noticed in Tottenham over the past few years is the bugaboo brigade; families with young children buying properties here. I'm not sure they spend enough of their money in the actual area but you can’t have everything!
Some people appear to care about the state of the roads, rubbish and Haringey Council, but I wish more people would get involved in community events and stop moaning about Tottenham.
Photo supplied: Rosie Cooper at Skidaddle Kids
Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?
There is so much to do in Tottenham! One of my family's favourite things to do is a lazy Sunday wander to the market, then on to Markfield Park and walk along the canal. We always end up in Loven Cafe eating brunch and drinking too many negronis!
Find out more about Skiddadle Kids N17: