Hackney ‘Super manny’ Joss Cambridge-Simmons on discrimination in the childcare industry

Joss Cambridge-Simons

Joss Cambridge-Simons - Credit: Joss Cambridge-Simons

‘Super-manny’ Joss Cambridge-Simmons tells Emma Bartholomew why he refuses to be beaten after being refused childcare jobs because of his gender

Stereotypically, being a “manny” or male nanny might not be a career path many young men from Hackney would choose.

But Joss Cambridge-Simmons was 19 and working in Harrods when he decided to change tack and work in a nursery.

“It was a good job but my mum said I needed to find something I was interested in,” recalls Joss, now 30, of Downham Road, De Beauvoir.

“I knew I was good with children, because I had my two-year-old brother around and I was good with him. There was a job fair advertised in the Islington Gazette, and I got the job on the spot. I’ve been doing it ever since.”

In the last 11 years, Joss has worked in many nurseries including the Fire Station Community Nursery in Leswin Street, Stoke Newington. He has also worked as a youth worker using DJing to connect with the children, and a support worker in care homes for children with convictions and mental health issues.

But he decided to branch out and set up his own agency Jossy Care – named after the pet name he’s given by kids – because he was often unable to secure work through nanny agencies. Keen to address stereotypes in the childcare industry, Joss wants to raise awareness of the sexism he finds to be inherent.

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“I couldn’t go through the door so I created my own door,” he said. “Even with my qualification and experience I still don’t get work from agencies because I’m a man.

“I’m now booked from now until 2020 and this is for families with babies, toddlers and teenagers. It’s obvious it’s not the families not wanting men, but it’s the agencies who don’t know how to market us.”

He does find it upsetting and he’s nearly thrown in the towel.

“I haven’t, because I realise I’ve got a gift and I’m passionate about what I do. I want to show men can do it.

“Men can care for children. Men can be emotional. Men can do all these things.”

His job has taken him to Ibiza and he’s been asked to go to Jamaica but couldn’t fit the trip around his busy schedule. He hopes his input helps foster the next generation of happy and healthy young adults.

“Kids need patience and nurturing,” he said. “I have always reflected on what I felt I required as a child and applied that to what I do today. It’s been a journey for me and I realise it was meant to be.

“I didn’t just fall into it – the way I was raised with love, care and nurturing has enabled me to go on to give that, and it’s become a vocation.”