I thought I’d share our experiences of the Trafford Centre Creche over the past 5 years. (In case you’re not a regular reader of my blog, my son, Sam is 7 years old. He is Autistic, and other sensory issues. Sam is non verbal, and still in pull ups).
Our First Visit in 2013
It was Saturday lunchtime when we arrived at the Trafford Centre Creche. The Trafford Centre Creche and Play Area is located on the ground floor of the Orient, next to Nando’s.
We went to the desk, and in all honesty, I expected to be turned away as the Trafford Centre was very busy. A lovely lady said there was space for him to play, and she just had to take some information first.
I took a seat at the desk, and she took all of Sam’s personal details, our address, his GP info and 3 different contact numbers. (Our home phone, my mobile and an emergency contact). She explained that I could either leave a nappy for him, or they’d charge me 50p if they had to use one of their own. She also advised that water was free, but drinks of juice were chargeable. (They were 50p each in 2013).
Lots Of Information Obtained
Next, she asked how long I’d like to leave him for. (2 year old’s can be left for a maximum of 2 hours). Sam was 2 on our first visit, and I said I’d just leave him for an hour as it was his first time. Next, she asked me if there was anything she needed to know about Sam (allergies etc). I explained that he didn’t speak, and was in the process of being assessed for autism. I said he would probably play happily by himself, but not want to join in with the other kids. She said that was fine.
I signed the receipt, and was then given a pager to wear round my neck. She said it would beep if there was a problem, and I should come straight back if it went off. I was also informed there would be a £25 charge if I lost it. She then gave me a receipt, with the collection time circled on it.
At this point, another lady came through the door and said hello to Sam. Sam smiled at her and was led through to the Trafford Centre Creche area. (I couldn’t see in there, but Sam went off happily enough). Syd (my 1 year old) and I then went over to Costa for a coffee and a cake.
Collecting Sam After His Visit
I spent a lot of the time checking the pager to make sure it wasn’t going off. I got back to the crèche 5 minutes early, and gave Sam’s name. The lady on the desk asked me to produce the receipt with the time circled on it. I hadn’t been told to keep it safe, so it took me a few minutes to find it. Once I did, I had to sign again to check my signature matched my original one, and produce the pager before they’d release Sam to me.
The waiting area looked clean and well maintained. As I said earlier, I couldn’t see inside the Trafford Centre Creche play area, but the staff were all well presented and friendly. All the other children I saw entering and leaving the creche looked happy, too. You can view photos of the facilities etc here on their website.
1-1 Support For Children With Additional Needs
The lady who had been looking after Sam said that due to his additional needs, I would need to phone in advance to book him a slot in future. She said this was so that they could ensure he could have 1-1 support, as they felt that in the event of a fire drill, he’d need 1-1 care to get out of the building safely. (This made perfect sense to me).
She also told me what Sam had been up to. (He’d played in the ball pool, played with the Duplo bricks, done lots of running around, and been trying to sneak into the bathroom whenever he got the chance)! She said he’d been really happy up until 5 minutes before I arrived, when he started looking around, as if he’d realised I wasn’t there. She suggested an hour was probably the optimum period of time for him to visit, until he got used to it.
I appreciated the fact she was honest with me. She also said that they have designated additional needs staff on duty each day, so by ringing to book his slot, I guarantee that he will get in, and that he will have someone with him at all times. There is no extra charge for this service, which I thought was amazing. £4.40 per hour doesn’t even cover minimum wage.
Before they brought Sam through, they asked for payment. It is £4.40p/h. When I said I’d pay by debit card, I was told there was a minimum charge of £5 to pay by card. (I wasn’t told this when I booked him in). To take my bill over £5, I bought a bottle of juice. Once I had paid, Sam was brought out to me. He looked really happy and well looked after.
Fast Forward to 2018
Sam is 8 soon, and has been using the Trafford Centre Creche since 2013. I am happy to report that the staff are still wonderful, and lots of the staff are the same as back in 2013.
My daughter is 7 now, and she too loves visiting the Creche. (Or “Balls” as we call it). The staff are very happy to offer support to Sam, and Syd tells me everything they’ve got up to during their time inside. Over the years, Sam has had good and bad visits. I have learnt that it’s best to go early in the day, when it’s quietest. We avoid weekend afternoons completely, as it’s far too noisy inside for Sam to handle.
The Trafford Centre Creche has honestly been a sanity saver for me during the school holidays. Being a special needs carer is tough, and knowing there’s somewhere safe I can leave the kids for an hour while I have a brew in peace is wonderful. I love that the staff always remember Sam and Syd – even when it’s been 9 months between visits. (Sam had a really anxious spell, and we didn’t visit at all during that time, as I knew it would be too much for him to handle). There have been times when I have left the kids for an hour, and hidden in the toilets and cried. Being able to do that while knowing the kids are safe is amazing.
The Crèche Opening Times Are:
Mon – Fri 10am – 7.30pm
Sat 9am – 7pm
Sun 11am – 5pm
Children aged 2-9 years may be left at the crèche. Last entry is 45 minutes before closing during term time, 75 minutes before closing during all holiday periods and at weekends.
The 2018 Prices Are:
Two bits of information I will remember for next time… Make sure you have cash on you if you’re expecting the bill to be under £5, and keep your “drop off” receipt safe.
A huge thumbs up to the Trafford Centre for offering this service.
To pre book a slot for your child with additional needs, ring 0161 746 9000 on the day.
This is not a sponsored post. We use the service, and I thought other local people would benefit from this information, so decided to share.
Finally, why not check out more of our Autism blog posts.