In 1979, the famous French psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto and some of her colleagues started a revolutionary new project in Paris. They opened a centre called “Maison Verte” [The Green House], dedicated to welcoming and listening to children under-4 years of age.
During informal sessions that took place each day of the week, three “welcomers” (psychoanalysts and other professionals working with toddlers) would try to support these young children as individual subjects and prevent psychological issues from developing.
Today, there are around 100 such centres in France, open to young children and their carers, with similar spaces also having sprung up in many cities in Europe and around the world.
In October 2016, a team of three psychotherapists, Kristina Valendinova, Antoine Huon, and Xavier Fourtou founded “Bubble & Speak”.
Our “welcoming centre” is currently the only one of its kind in the UK. The idea was to offer the same type of services and dedication originally developed on the continent to families living in South London.
We plan to return to this venue once it becomes safe to do so in addition to opening our new one in North London soon.
When a family arrive, we ask for the child’s name and write it on a blackboard. The children have many toys, books and art supplies at their disposal. The idea is to give the child freedom to play, explore the environment and meet new friends.
On entering nursery, children will be separated from their family. Bubble & Speak is a safe intermediary space: it is no longer the family environment and other children and adults are present; at the same time, their parents or carers are still around.
During the sessions, parents can relax or share their experience.
Bubble & Speak has been very popular since its inception in October 2016 and prior to the pandemic and lockdown in March 2020, and an ever-increasing number of children and families have been coming to the library in South London.