Busy mum sets her sights on continued business growth with after school day care solution designed to improve daily parenting routines


“My Business is growing from strength to strength thanks to the help received on the OPTIMAL Programme”. Sinead Fox, Business Founder

Busy mum Sinead founder of Fox's Den after school day care club business and mentee on the OPTIMAL business growth programme

A business support and growth mentoring programme offered through Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has helped Sinead Fox, a busy mum from the local area develop her business: ‘The Fox’s Den’.


Whilst working as a classroom assistant Sinead identified an opportunity to open an afterschool day care service at the school where she worked. Having previously completed the GO For It programme she drafted a proposal to deliver the service and the rest is history. 


Sinead says: 

“The OPTIMAL Programme came just at the right time for me. After completing my expression of interest form via the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council website I was soon contacted by a council officer who talked me through the support available and discussed the bespoke mentoring that I could avail of.  Quickly after this I was contacted by the programme manager at Mallusk Enterprise Park and matched with an experienced mentor that was able to meet my specific needs.”

Sinead attributes much of her success to the one to one support she received from her OPTIMAL mentor.

She adds:

“My mentor assisted me to develop internal systems and processes and I received further support in the area of marketing, financial management, pricing, legislation and employing staff.”

“This programme has 100% assisted me to get where I am today. I am delighted to say that I am in the process of opening another day care facility and have plans to grow even further. I have reapplied for the OPTIMAL programme and am going to focus on HR now that I am recruiting more staff and further strategies to grow my business. I would strongly recommend this programme to anyone running a business. It has been a great opportunity for development, and I am delighted with the support I have received, not just for myself and my business but for all the kids and care givers that my service helps daily. I look forward to applying again under the newly launched 2021 programme and being challenged further – I have no doubt that additional mentoring will bring many more insights and lead to more business success for me.”

Sinead founder of The Fox's Den with OPTIMAL Programme Manager Colleen


Colleen McAreavey, OPTIMAL Programme Manager says: 

“The OPTIMAL business support programme has and will continue to assist enterprises within the Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough to grow and fight back against the impact of Covid. We have a bank of highly qualified specialist mentors in an array of business topics to include Tax, Brexit, Digital, Export, Sales & HR.  We will also be delivering a series of free training sessions to all businesses in the borough starting from September.”


The OPTIMAL (Outstanding Performance Through Individual Mentoring and Leadership) Programme provides FREE tailored and specialist business support through mentoring, workshops, and networking. It is open to all small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises within the Borough that have less than 50 employees and are not registered as an Invest NI client.

To register an expression of interest, go to: www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/optimal

The OPTIMAL project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.


About The Fox’s Den After School Club:

The Fox’s Den is a fun, safe and secure environment located in the child’s school. Setting up such a secure link within schools provides each individual child with a clear definition in their day while reducing travelling time for parents and their children. One drop off, one pick up.

The Fox’s Den has clubs in Whitehouse Primary School in Newtownabbey and Bloomfield Primary School & Nursery in Bangor.

Focusing on physical and outdoor play the club also allows time for homework to be completed. With 5 stars employed by the Environmental Health Trust the club always ensures children are offered greatly nutritious snacks. 

Registered by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust care givers can be assured that all children are supervised under a ratio of 1:8 (staff:children) this helps staff to build a good relationship with both parents/care givers and all children enrolled. All staff are fully vetted by the board and have a minimum level 3 in a childcare qualification to ensure that the Fox’s Den always offer an excellent service of care for all children in their care. 


About Sinead:

During 13 years working with children and being a parent herself Sinead could see that there was a gap in the market for safe affordable childcare after the school day. Carrying out significant research reinforced this experience and also found that the afterschool type of childcare best suits school age children.

Having achieved level 3 and level 5 management in childcare as well as completing numerous play board and special needs training Sinead is committed to ensuring that all at the Fox’s Den are always striving to ensure that the needs of working parents are met and a very high quality service is provided to all users.