Annual Au Pair River Cruise – Book NOW!

The date for the annual Au Pair River Cruise has been announced! Every year, Smartaupairs invites all au pairs who are placed with one of our host families to join us for the event. It’s extremely popular so we recommend booking your place as soon as possible!

Thames River Cruise

Sunday 17th May 2015

All day excursion from just £10 per person

Come and join hundreds of other BAPAA au pairs on a private boat trip to Greenwich. You will travel past famous bridges and historic buildings along the river from Central London, with many exciting views of Westminster including the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, and then head downstream through the city to the Thames Barrier, Greenwich and back again. At Greenwich you will have time to have a look around – there are lively markets, historic buildings, the famous Royal Observatory and Meridian Line, the Maritime Museum and a beautiful park with wonderful views over London. Bring a picnic or buy lunch in Greenwich.

  • 11am – boat leaves Festival Pier
  • 1pm – boat arrives at Greenwich
  • 4pm – boat leaves Greenwich
  • 5pm – boat arrives back at Festival Pier

The trip costs £10 per person or £12 for friends (non-BAPAA)

You must arrive by 10.45am as the boat leaves promptly at 11am from Festival Pier, in front of The Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. (Opposite side of the river to Embankment tube.)

Nearest tube station: Waterloo or Embankment. Nearest mainline train station: Waterloo.

If you wish to stay in London for the night of Saturday 16th May, hostel accommodation is available through International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London W1. (www.ish.org.uk) Telephone 020 7631 8310, quoting BAPAA.

Britt Boat Trip
Au Pair Britt won our photo competition in 2014. This is her entry taken in Greenwich Park.

Payment details: You can pay via PayPal (even if you don’t have a PayPal account) – go to www.paypal.co.uk and make the payment to finance@bapaa.org.uk. You must include your FULL name, the name of your agency in the UK (Smartaupairs) and your host family, plus the names of any friends going on the trip with you (stating BAPAA or non-BAPAA). You must print off the PayPal receipt or ticket and bring it with you on the day, as you will need to show it when you board the boat (tickets displayed on smartphones will not be accepted)! You must pay in advance for your ticket and refunds are not given.

Smartaupairs will be running a photo competition so REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR CAMERA!

Entries are to be emailed to aupairs@smartaupairs.com by 29th May 2015 and the winner will receive a £20 Amazon voucher. Click here to see some of last year’s entries.

Smartaupairs reserves the right to use any images from the boat trip for the purpose of future promotions.

Any questions? Please e-mail aupairs@smartaupairs.com

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Birkbeck Research Report – BAPAA’s Response 

 #aupairproject and the official Au Pair Scheme in the UK and Au Pairing after the Au Pair Scheme

On 16th October 2014, BAPAA were invited to attend a breakfast briefing at Birkbeck University where Dr Rosie Cox and Dr Nicole Busch presented their findings of a recently completed research project on Au Pairing, migration and childcare in the UK.

Following this launch of findings, Au Pairing in the UK has come under the public spotlight with negative articles in National Newspapers and radio show discussions.

The #aupairproject research has especially highlighted the dangers for both Au Pairs and host families using ”Internet only platforms” where there is no self-regulation at all. Using an Internet matching site there is no agency to mediate and oversee an Au Pair placement ensuring the rules of the Cultural Exchange are followed. There is no support on offer to the Au Pair or to the host family, no benefits for the Au Pair or for the host family, no emergency helpline or agency number to call if the Au Pair or host family are having problems and in need of assistance.
We are grateful to both Dr Cox & Dr Busch for exposing these findings as it really does reinforce BAPAA’s ongoing concerns relating to the internet recruitment of Au Pairs.

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Annual Au Pair River Cruise – Book NOW!

The date for the annual au pair river cruise has been announced! The cruise has been tremendously popular in previous years, so make sure you book your place NOW!

You can join us for the Thames River Cruise if you are currently placed with one of our host families.

Date: Sunday 12th May 2013

All day excursion from just £10 per person

Come and join 100s of other BAPAA au pairs on a private boat trip to Greenwich. You will travel past famous bridges and historic buildings along the river from Central London, with many exciting views of Westminster including the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, and then head downstream through the city to the Thames Barrier, Greenwich and back again. At Greenw

ich you will have time to have a look around – there are lively markets, historic buildings, the famous Royal Observatory and Meridian Line, the Maritime Museum and a beautiful park with wonderful views over London. Bring a picnic or buy lunch in Greenwich.

  • 11am – boat leaves Festival Pier
  • 1pm – boat arrives at Greenwich
  • 4pm – boat leaves Greenwich
  • 5pm – boat arrives back at Festival Pier

The trip costs £10 per person or £12 for friends (non-BAPAA)

You must arrive by 10.45 am as the boat leaves promptly at 11am from Festival Pier, in

front of The Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. (Opposite side of the river to Embankment tube.)

Nearest tube station: Waterloo or Emba

nkment. Nearest mainline train station: Waterloo.

If you wish to stay in London for the night of Saturday 11th May, hostel accommodation is available through International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London W1. (www.ish.org.uk) Telephone 020 7631 8310, quoting BAPAA.

Nelleke from the Netherlands took this photo on the boat trip last year!
Nelleke from the Netherlands took this photo on the boat trip last year!

Payment details: You can pay via PayPal – you do not need a Paypal account! Go to www.paypal.co.uk and make the payment to finance@bapaa.org.uk. You must include your FULL name, the name of your agency in the UK (Smartaupairs) and your host family, plus the names of any friends going on the trip with you (stating BAPAA or non-BAPAA). You must print off the PayPal receipt or ticket and bring it with you on the day, as you will need to show it when you board the boat!

We will be running a Smartaupairs photo competition so REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR CAMERA!

Entries are to be emailed to info@smartaupairs.com by 31st May 2013 and the winner will receive a £20 Amazon voucher.

Smartaupairs reserves the right to use any images from the boat trip for the purpose of future promotions.

Tip: make sure you are in the photo (with your au pair friends perhaps) – this makes the photo much more interesting than just sending a photo of scenery alone.

We look forward to meeting you!

Any questions? Please e-mail info@smartaupairs.com

The Future of Au Pairs in Britain

Apologies for a slightly dramatic title, but since I have joined the board of the British Au Pair Agencies Association I have been thinking about this a lot.

In an industry where supply and demand experiences extreme changes in a short time, there are inevitably victims. Before the EU expansion, there were a lot of young people who wanted to come to Britain as au pair to broaden their horizons. As an au pair, they would have a chance to earn and learn. The language skills were very important to them and together with earning a bit of hard currency it gave them a huge advantage when they returned home.

They came to Britain with the use of their local agency in their home country, which would collaborate with an agency in Britain who would find a suitable family and support the au pair during her stay in Britain.

Now, young Europeans have lots of options, especially if they speak English fairly well (maybe they were au pair a few years ago!) they can go and work in the hotel industry for example. Mind you, although the gross pay may look very attractive, the disposable income and free time most certainly won’t be generous. If you work in a hotel and you are not fluent in English, you are likely to work in a housekeeping role and you may be working alongside other non-native speakers, so not much chance of improving languages skills. In addition to this, so much of the pay will go to travel and accommodation, as you are likely to live in overpriced crammed housing in the worst areas of the London suburbs.

And even those young Europeans who do still value the au pair experience as a great first opportunity in Britain, they are less likely now to use traditional methods of finding a position. By cutting out the ‘middleman’ and going online to find their own host family the risks are numerous and of varying gravity. Many families are online because they do not value the protection and professionalism that a good au pair agency can add to the cultural experience of the au pair, they may in fact be looking for a cheap cleaner! And some families, thankfully a minority, really abuse the vulnerable au pair, given her inappropriate tasks or asking her to work all hours for little money, often without the opportunity for a language course. Even if the family she found online is nice and genuine, the au pair is missing out on the network of finding other au pairs, an excursion program and the support (in her own language) from the agency at times when a kind word of encouragement is needed.

So who is the victim of all of today’s threats?

First of all those au pair agencies unable or unwilling to adjust to the new situation may decide that business today is too challenging and shut down. Personally, I think this is not a bad thing. I have seen it happen in the travel industry and the ones strong and innovative enough to adjust to what the customer wants have survived and even benefited from the pressure of the market.

Host families are also feeling the pinch. There are fewer au pairs around now than in previous years. However, good agencies with reliable source agencies in Europe are still able to provide great au pairs. But some of the changes for the families are more subtle. Fewer au pairs are looking to come over for 12 months or longer now for example, as without a visa and with cheap flights home, plans are made for shorter periods of cultural exchange. Many youngsters are now looking to be au pair in the summer holidays only.

But how about the au pair candidates? They seem to be the winners for now. With endless opportunities today with a wealth of choice in programs such as ‘work and travel’, ‘study and travel’, ‘work experience’ and ‘sandwich courses’ volunteer programs and teaching English abroad, the opportunities for a gap year are now more extensive than ever before.

But actually, the au pair experience is also still fashionable! The program is just better, with high calibre candidates who really appreciate the au pair experience as an opportunity for cultural exchange. So for families who respect and appreciate the au pair program as a cultural experience, there are still excellent candidates with high level of education and often strong language skills.

In the last few weeks I have attended a number of events where I was able to meet with partners from all over Europe and further afield with innovative ideas for the future. They all believe the au pair experience is alive and kicking and that their educated candidates have a lot to offer to British host families.

At smartaupairs, we continue to look at ways to innovate and offer all stakeholders a positive experience. This means looking after the needs of the overseas agents, the au pairs and ofcourse the host families. This way we feel we can offer an attractive proposition to all parties and secure a great long-term future for the au pair experience.

In the last few weeks I have visited the ‘work & travel’ forum in Berlin and met with potential new partners, some who have been sending au pairs for years and others just taking their first tentative steps into developing a quality au pair program. Last week I was in New York, meeting with our USA Au pair agency. They place candidates from all over the world in American host families. I was very impressed with the infrastructure and support offered to au pairs in America and it certainly gave me ideas for the future of au pairs in Britain too. The European au pair agencies present at this meeting were all of the highest standards, as is required to meet the standards of recruiting au pair candidates to send to the USA.