Leen Martens

Nursery Director

Hi! My name is Leen and I have lived in Oxford for about 18 months. We moved from Antwerp, Belgium because of my husband’s work (he is a researcher at the University of Oxford). We have three kids, who are 12, 11 and 7 years old and who are attending local comprehensive schools.

As I wanted to do something for the community and also get to know some people while the children were at school, I joined Restore, an organization that provides support for people with mental health issues, as a volunteer. I have no previous experience in Mental Health, so this is interesting for me and I still have a lot to learn from all the members and staff there.

When there was a vacancy on the Governors’ board of my kids primary school, I decided to participate in the elections and became a parent governor at East Oxford Primary School, where I am focusing my attention on co-running and co-managing Stay and Play sessions. This gives me the chance to meet a lot of great kids and interesting parents and guardians from very different backgrounds as we try hard to reach out to the most vulnerable families. My wish is that all children get the support and chances they need in life.

The thing that made us want to stay here in the UK and especially in Oxford is that we feel part of the community and have made some good friends here. We are so lucky to live in East Oxford, which is a lively area with a great mix of people from all different backgrounds and from around the world. And we are so spoilt with an abundancy of parks and green space close by!

And it has taken us a while but we have even become used to having milk with our tea and cycling on the left side of the road!

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union is a shame as, apart from having some direct implications for us, I feel that working together and having shared goals can benefit everyone. The thing that scares me most is that nationalism, and countries only looking out for their own interests, is on the rise. That will diminish solidarity in the future and that it too bad as we’re better together.

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