I worked at Happy Days Nursery part-time between the ages of 18-25, it was always my place of return between my studies at university and my photographic practice. I left in September of 2020 during the pandemic.
Happy Days nursery stayed open at the peak of the pandemic to support the children of key workers, and with it came the complexities of sanitation, fear, comfort and confusion.
At the time of making this work, Britain was the country with the highest COVID-19 related deaths in Europe and the pandemic disproportionately affected those from the poorest background, alongside black and non white communities. At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, the U.K government declared that nursery practitioners and teachers did not need government PPE (protective equipment). At this point many educators, and myself, felt as they were being forgotten. Without proper government support, children and educators were at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
The work also highlights the global spotlight on ‘key worker’ roles during COVID-19. It discusses the influence on children’s lives during ‘small world’ role play and how this work serves as a memory of a working day. Nurseries have historically been places of work that are deemed “low skilled” and being a female led industry, the women who work there are often undervalued and overlooked.
This work is a love letter for those who gave hugs, wiped tears and put themselves at risk for the sake of comfort and kindness.