North Yorkshire couple launch new charity to help struggling families afford nursery fees

The Zizus Foundation offers nursery grants to children from struggling families. Credit: PA

A North Yorkshire couple have set up a charity to fund free childcare for families who otherwise could not afford it.

The Zizus Foundation, founded by Nicola Knight and Maaz Rahman, offers nursery grants to children from struggling families.

According to figures from the National Childbirth Trust, it currently costs an average of £52.60 a day to send a child under the age of two to nursery.

The couple already run a nursery in Middlesbrough called Zizu's Day Care & Learning Centre, but want to give opportunities to children whose parents cannot necessarily afford childcare.

Ms Knight said: “To make a difference to children’s lives, to give them opportunities they may otherwise miss out on. 

"Parents can’t afford to go back to work, they simply don't have the money to do that. 

"To empower them to actually return to work and feel like they are making a difference. It's going to be huge for them”

To fund the charity's generous programmes, the Zizus Foundation has commissioned a children's book called 'Zizu loses his stripes'.

The children's story has even been voiced by former ITV Tyne Tees presenter Pam Royle.

At the launch of the new charity and book venture, Mr Rahman shared his reasons for doing the charitable work.

His first wife Saerah died nine years ago, weeks after giving birth to their second child. The nursery, and now the charity, are all in her memory.

Mr Rahman said: "I didn't do this to become a wealthy man. To be fair there is not much money in childcare. I did it for sentimental reasons.

"I think Saerah would be incredibly proud at how far we have come with this, and the fact that we are just getting started."

The Government currently offers 30 hours of free childcare, but only to children between the ages of three and four, depending on their parent's income and employment situation.

For many parents on benefits and attempting to return to work they are often required to pay a month's childcare costs up front.

This is not possible for many parents so the Zizus Foundation offers a grant which will cover the first month of childcare payments at any Ofsted-approved nursery or childminder.

The foundation also offers to pay all of the fees for parents going through a domestic abuse situation, homelessness, death of a parent or significant life event where the child would benefit from being in nursery.

The couple have commissioned a children's book to fund their new charity. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Mr Rahman said: "Parents struggle to keep up with payments.

"If you think of today and the increase in all utility prices it is having an impact on childcare and parents have to make a choice.

"Am I going to feed my child or am I going to take them to a childcare provision? That's a difficult choice to make."

The couple said the book was the first of many projects planned.

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