Connect Childcare sets the fundraising bar high

A leading developer of nursery management software has committed to raising £18,000 in order to fund an education centre for children living in poverty in South Africa.

Chris Reid, CEO of Connect Childcare, in Burnley, and parent of two young children himself, was so moved by the work of The Auntie Foundation, when speaking to charity founder Russell Ford, he decided to set his fundraising bar high.

Auntie is a non-profit organisation, set up on behalf of the childcare sector in the UK and Ireland, that promotes human and social development.

In South Africa, where Auntie concentrates its work, the majority of children live in extreme poverty, on less than $1 a day. One in three children don’t always have enough to eat and one in five don't go to school. Over 2.5m children have already been orphaned there – with the HIV / AIDS epidemic and tuberculosis at the highest levels anywhere in the world.

Most children there are living in squalid shacks, in townships, often with no electricity, running water or sanitation. In these conditions, it is usually the children that suffer most.

With generous support from those working in the childcare sector, Auntie’s projects aim to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable children living in extreme poverty - through self-sufficiency, rather than dependency.

Chris said: “As a parent of two young children it was difficult to see the stark reality of life as a child in these poor areas of South Africa. For us it is commonplace to go off to work and know that our children are safe and happy at nursery. We witness their path of learning and development every day as they enjoy the exploration of everyday things we take for granted.

“When speaking to Russell, who was so very passionate about The Auntie Foundation, he told me it would cost £18,000 to build a 100-place education centre within one of the shanty towns and while this is a lot of money to raise, I knew that with the right drive and determination we could do it as a team.”

Already Connect has a number of fundraising activities in the offing, including the Great Manchester Run and Tough Mudder; a 13-mile slog in rough terrain.

But it is now looking at ways in which it can generate the interest of both its customers and fellow businesses in the Lancashire area to take its fundraising to a whole new level.

Chris said: “It’s not going to be easy, we know that, but if we can see a centre go up in the next few years that has been paid with from our efforts, then what other motivator do we need?"

Russell Ford said: “Connect Childcare’s huge commitment to the foundation comes as a huge boost to us and we will support his efforts all the way.

“Having centres like this enables us to give children an education, and provide vocational training to help young people into meaningful jobs and we cannot thank our supporters enough for their generous support.

“The 'early years' sector in the UK and Ireland is made up of 14,500 day nurseries, and over 260,000 dedicated staff working in those nurseries, caring for over 1.2m children aged 5 and under - aiming to give each of those children the best possible start in life.

“Along with those children’s parents, they constitute a wonderful community that cares primarily about young children. What better community to bring together, engage with and support vulnerable young children living in extreme poverty to help give them a better start in life?” To support Connect Childcare visit