Voices from the Factory: The Before and After Transformation of Child Friendly Spaces

In the summer of 2017, tiny footsteps and bursts of laughter rang out from rooms in 17 factories in China. But despite the presence of children in these factories, no-one was worried about compliance issues or the children’s safety. Nor was anyone wondering what children were doing in these rooms, many of which were previously drab, monotone and only available to workers or management.

These rooms underwent a massive transformation thanks to these factories’ participation in the Child Friendly Spaces programme in 2017. Bare rooms were transformed into colourful hubs of activity. Cold, tiled floors became lined with soft, colourful play mats. Drab looking walls were spruced up with art and shelves stuffed with toys.

The CFS programme allowed the children of workers to stay in a safe, supervised space in the factory during the summer holidays while their parents worked. Over 600 children from all over the country attended the 14 CFS this summer, and for many, it was one of the most fun and memorable summer they ever had. But before these spaces became buzzing hubs of games, activities and lessons, staff from the factories and The Centre (formerly CCR CSR) worked hard to ensure the set up got the seal of approval from both the factories and the parents.

Below are three examples of the incredible transformation of factory rooms into CFS.

Factory 1

This room previously served as an activity room for workers.

After the space was chosen for the CFS programme, the white walls were given a new lease of life with the addition of child-friendly wall art, painted pillars and children’s furniture. The giant projector screen was also a big hit among the kids.  

Factory 2:

This room was situated on the first floor of the dormitory and was reserved for management. Despite the large space, the room looked cluttered and disorganised. 

That all changed when it was converted into a CFS. Almost unrecognizable, foam mats and child-themed curtains brought new life to the room. Colourful tables were used for handicrafts and art activities while the shelves stored games, toys and books. 

Factory 3:

This large room was used for recreational purposes. Workers could play table tennis here or hone their Karaoke skills.

Within just one month, the room took on a whole new vibe. Balloons, wall art, shelves and soft foam mats added a much-needed splash of colour, and furniture, a blackboard and TV completed the transition into a fun hang-out for kids. 

What investment was needed by the factories?

To turn CFS into reality, all factories dedicate time, staff and capital into the program, but the amount largely depends on the scope of the project. All factories attend a three-day training session on how to run and manage the CFS and all invest in the renovation or redecoration of the rooms. While each factory tailors the program to their own needs and circumstances, the following aspects have been embraced by CFS factories to date:

  • Family dorms: Some factories provided family dormitories to enable parent workers to live with their children throughout the duration of CFS

  • Meal services: Nearly all factories provided lunch services for children, or allowed children to eat at the factory canteen with their parents

  • Flexible opening hours: Several factories kept CFS open until the end of the work shift, and if workers had to work overtime, the operating hours of CFS would be adjusted accordingly to prevent children from being left unattended

  • Health & safety: As safety is paramount at CFS, some factories hired security personnel and/or installed special safety measures such as fences and railings on doors, windows and stairs

  • Professional teachers: Factories hired professional teachers (either from kindergarten or primary school) to take charge of the daily management and each teacher took part in the three-day training

Feedback from factories after CFS:

The feedback from this year’s participating factory managers was extremely positive.

“We have decided to open the CFS next year and scale up the program. Our top management also agreed to find another space that can accommodate more children. Although this is the first time we are running such a centre, parent workers know we have tried our best. They said we did a better job than the kindergarten did!” Ms. Zhang, admin manager of one this year’s participating CFS factories

“I think CFS is a really great project. When workers know that we care about them and their families, their relationship with us improve. Our production efficiency has significantly increased. We believe this project will have great impact on the factory in the long run, so we have decided to run the project in the coming years.” General Manager of one this year’s participating CFS factories

“This is a good project both for company and our workers. When we solve the difficulties faced by workers, we also solve the difficulties faced by ourselves. Since the difficulty of our factory’s recruitment is growing, this project helps keep these workers for a longer period. It’s a win-win for us.” Mr. H, general manager of one this year’s participating CFS factories

* Consolidated feedback from workers at 11 factories who took part in the CFS project in 2017. The impact was measured through pre-training and post-training questionnaires, worker interviews, and final evaluation surveys.

If you’re interested in learning more or would like to nominate your supplier factory to take part in a CFS programme, please contact us.

Published on   07/11/2017
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