Community Heroes: Michele Kemp

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Syeda Pasha, Shottobani 

Michele Kemp

London: Michele Kemp has served her community for over 30 years. Ocean Children’s centre recently celebrated Michele’s 30 year Anniversary working for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. caught up with Michele to find out about her experience working for this borough.

Michele told that it all began in the summer of 1986 when she was offered a temporary position at the one o’clock club. Her role was to act as replacement, if anyone was on leave. Eventually, after working for around a year across multiple one o’clock clubs, she was offered a permanent position at Whitehorse Play Centre.

In 2011, Michele completed her foundation degree in early- year’s childhood studies.

“This course improved understanding of my role and helped me develop my practice – you become more aware of why you plan and deliver the service in a certain way”,  said Michele.

“The support and mentoring I received from my manager was extraordinary. I feel like I have grown and improved as a play and learn worker and have better supported the children and families I work with.”

“Over the last thirty years there have been many changes,”  said Michele. “We were initially under the parks department only later to become part of the Sure Start programme. Ocean Children’s Centre was the first Sure Start Children Centre in Tower Hamlets and incorporated the Whitehorse one o’clock club.

I have met many parents and their children who have done very well and are now bringing their own children back to Whitehorse. Many of the children who I have worked with have gone on to university and are now playing a significant role in our borough,” she added.

Michele also said she remembered, “one girl in particular, who used to attend the play centre with her mum and went on to pursue a career in childcare.” The girl told Michele that the positive experience she had as a child at the one o’clock club helped her to follow this career path. At present Michele is responsible for supporting volunteers who are interested in play and learn work.

“Ocean Children’s Centre has now become a hub for families and I get the opportunity to work with many different professionals including Family Support Workers, Community Development Officers, Educational Psychologist, Health Visitors and Speech and Language Therapists. As an Inclusion Lead, I have a specific role with children who require additional help and additionally support colleagues to be current with the London Borough of Tower Hamlet’s guidance.”

Ocean Children’s Centre was the first children centre to set up a specialised group for children with additional needs. Michele said that as a play and learn worker, working with different professionals has improved her understanding of the importance of partnership working and the holistic approach to improving children’s outcomes.

“I have seen numerous changes in my role and responsibilities over the last thirty years”,  said Michele, “I am confident that this has benefitted Tower Hamlets residents and that the Integrated Early Years’ service will continue to improve the lives and outcomes of our young people.” Michele will be leaving Tower Hamlets on 31st March after serving her community for over 30 years.


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