Living and working abroad can be exciting but it can also be challenging. DIO is responsible for looking after personnel and their families who are serving both at home and abroad. DIO has personnel serving all over the world in places like Kenya, Canada, the Falkland Islands and Cyprus. British Forces Cyprus (BFC) has over 3,000 military personnel serving abroad, over 300 civil servants and over 3,700 spouses and children. There is a host of work that DIO does to ensure that families of forces abroad have the support they need including housing, leisure facilities, schools and nurseries.
My name is Lt Col Steve Nicholls and I am the Deputy Area Manager and DIO’s Programme Manager for the delivery of four nurseries in Cyprus. We worked closely with our colleagues from the Directorate for Children and Young People the MOD’s professional lead on all matters relating to service children and young people.
Before this year, childcare on the island consisted of crèches that were housed in other military buildings. In 2014, BFC and DIO began a project to build four bespoke nurseries for the children of British families serving in Cyprus. My colleague HQ BFC Comd, Lt Col Andy Reid led the successful bid for significant Government investment into the project and full design work began in 2015 through DIO SD for four nurseries. We worked together to scope locations, develop plans and manage the construction and launch of new nurseries in Ayious Nikolaos, Dhekelia, Akrotiri and Episkopi.
Ayious Nikolaos, Akrotiri and Dhekelia nurseries were completed in July 2017 and opened for business after staff training for the September 2017 term. Episkopi will be complete later this year and will open in early 2018.
Dhekelia and Episkopi nurseries can take 85 children each, while the nursery in Ayious Nikoloas has room for 35 children and Akrotiri can accommodate 130 children. The purpose built nurseries are fully air conditioned with vaulted ceilings providing a very bright and airy environment. Additionally a number of the larger classrooms have separating partition screens allowing the rooms to be split in to two smaller rooms to make them more versatile. There are also secure outdoor play areas to make the most of the sunny, warm climate. Shaded areas provide protection from the sun and heat on warmer days.
All of the buildings apart from Akrotiri were constructed on brownfield sites and each nursery has been built with the environment in mind. Power is generated from solar panels installed on each roof and the water is heated with solar power. Lighting tunnels have been built in from the roof to the corridors providing natural light throughout. Each building is also seismically compliant meaning they have been built to withstand earthquakes. DIO SD has invested wisely in making the supporting infrastructure (water, power, sewage) as robust as possible.
The nurseries have children’s washrooms and full disabled access, separate facilities are provided for staff as well as staff rooms for both break periods and training. Car parking and drop off areas are also available.
This significant investment in Cyprus has been very welcome news to the community as it demonstrates MOD’s commitment to education and lifelong learning for families. These new nursery facilities will further enrich the local community and will most certainly provide encouragement to young forces families who may be considering coming to Cyprus to live and work.