Staff at an independent nursery in Pateley Bridge have been given an extra day off to volunteer in a bid to 'give something back' to the community.
Sunflowers Day Nursery, on Low Wath Road, is the only Outstanding nursery in the town.
But despite significant national funding challenges for pre-school education, the independent nursery has launched a scheme to give staff an extra day of leave to volunteer in the community.
Manager at Sunflowers, Heather Clark-Kelly, said: “We realise the reason we do such a good job here is because of our staff.
“If we can retain our staff, who are all fabulous, by offering them opportunities to do lots of different things then it is a good initiative.
“Pateley Bridge is such a close knit community. It’s that community which has supported us and enabled us to be as brilliant as we are.
“We are the only Outstanding nursery in Pateley Bridge and that again is something we wouldn’t have been able to do without our staff.”
But the opportunity has been afforded to staff at a time when nurseries and pre-schools are struggling nationwide with funding.
Ms Clark-Kelly said the introduction of 30 hours government-funded care for three and four-year-olds has undercut many nurseries leaving them ‘drastically underfunded’.
She said: “Parents who aren’t funded are paying a lot more to buy their space than the government is paying to buy spaces.”
She added: “We also can’t charge VAT on childcare so it means that anything we pay VAT on, like equipment, we can’t make that back anywhere.
“It’s a one way street and it makes us instantly less sustainable.”
Mr Clark-Kelly said that many of the staff at Sunflowers are longstanding employees and the scheme was a way of letting them pursue their own personal passions while giving something back to the community.
She said: “We thought what can we give back to the community and it was a way of giving something back.”
The scheme applies to staff members who have been with the nursery for at least two years and Ms Clark-Kelly said that while volunteering within the community is encouraged, staff are allowed to use the day to volunteer elsewhere too.