OxNest at work during Studio 5

OxNest at work during Studio 5

Amazing training! Informative, practical, supportive. Brilliant! Lots of information and activities
— Perinatal and Infant Mental Health
Having a crèche in the space was absolutely fantastic. The carers were engaging with the kids but the kids could also approach us if needed. It gave me confidence to focus on the learning without wondering how my baby was coping
— Parent
The stay and play sessions felt safe, they always asked how you were, and they would talk to you quietly on the side if you had a concern
— Childminder
There are lots of barriers everywhere and learning how to recognize the barriers is important
— Building bridges: Identity, Culture, Community

Who’s behind OxNest

Laura White, Doireann Lalor, Shilpa Bhatt, Fiona Henderson and Annie Davy

“Our main focus has been to involve community groups, locations, and Early Years professionals and parents to deliver the models in order to increase social mobility in Oxford, create more confident and resilient parents and carers of children under 5 as well as increase wellbeing for children under 5.”

Mission statement:

“To develop capacity and remove barriers for those who care for children aged 0 - 5 through training, support and events”


More confident and resilient parents and carers of children under 5

  • Increased wellbeing for children under 5

  • Increased social mobility in the Early Years system of Oxford


There is a lack of available early support for new parents and carers due to the closure of children’s centres as well as a lack of innovative and accessible training due to reduced public spending (documented through OxNEST interviews, surveys and local intelligence).

Based on these facts, the hypotheses that OxNEST has been working from is that well designed events and programmes for carers of under 5s will increase the confidence and wellbeing in adults and this will positively impact the children. Sustainability and inclusivity of such programmes can be achieved through a mixed model of income generation through social enterprise and social prescriptions funded through public and charitable sources.


Community and peer led events and training for carers of children under 5.

Making the most of local and community capital and social enterprise, the idea has been to create new kinds of support through a programme of events and training by supporting existing groups and working with a range of organisations to deliver events that are both inclusive and accessible.

Recognising how training by statutory bodies is often focused on statutory requirements rather than broader responses to health and wellbeing, as well as how some courses might not be affordable for everyone and thereby not inclusive, OxNEST has actively worked on developing a model that offers events which are inclusive and reach the population that the mainstream programmes don’t reach. OxNEST has done so by developing their events from within the community, creating feedback structures to ensure that the events are flexible and responsive to the needs of those doing the job, building on a social enterprise model which considers sustainability as well as using social prescription vouchers, peer to peer parent networks and other incentives. An example of these events has been the popular “Flourish at Flo’s” events held at Florence Park that have received hundreds of visitors from the targeted areas.  

The goal for the future that OxNEST is already moving towards is a vibrant new training and resource centre established with a regular programme of funded and paid for events and programmes where local outcomes for young children are showing an upward trend. Looking further into the future, the aim is a centre that offers popular events and courses across the city and developing community owned products which are replicable across the city and beyond.