Incorporate single parents as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010

Today Bethan Jones talks to us about a campaign very close to her heart. Ellementatal Mama is campaigning to Incorporate single parents as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010. As a single parent herself, Bethan is highly supportive of this cause.

When this wonderful ladies’ email appeared in the Parenthood Matters inbox, it was instantly passed to myself and really hit an emotional nerve for me. I didn’t become a single parent by choice and nor did I take it lightly. When Covid-19 hit, my brain was consumed with the thought of what would happen to my son if anything happened to me. Who would care for him and what would happen to him if I was even in hospital for a few hours? That’s the reality faced by many single parents in the UK, when the other parent isn’t as active as it may seem to those looking from the outside in.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I haven’t hidden my feelings towards my son’s father. He hasn’t had concerns for my son’s health issues that I have had to endure during lockdown. He hasn’t had to worry about the childcare issues that I’ve faced during Covid that potentially could have affected my job – the job that is my only source of income to keep a roof over my son’s head. To keep him warm and clothed, and keep his greedy little belly fed. Fathers that are separated from single mothers may pay what the law dictates that they pay, but this figure often doesn’t stretch as far as one would think. The child support I receive doesn’t cover any of the mortgage, bills, or even my Son’s wardrobe. It scratches the surface of the astronomical cost of childcare.

People often paint single parents as living a life of luxury. A lovely lifestyle with no money worries. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and it is my honest opinion that people are deluded if they believe that. Single parenting is back breaking hard work. It is the toughest, and most rewarding job I have ever done. I cried on a daily basis. Spent months hobbling around like a zombie after sleepless nights, covered in baby sick and mystery stains. There have been times I have forgotten the last time I washed my hair, and instead gauge it on how many days before my hair stays in place without the bobble holding it there… But single parenting also has its perks. I get to make the decisions for myself and my son. Nobody to tell me what to do, nobody to dictate how I raise my son. I haven’t had to endure conversations about “what I have done all day” like I hear too many of my married mum friends say. I’m grateful for that, though I suppose that says something about the society we live in!

Reading Ruth’s (Ellamental Mama) email and speaking to her virtually was quite monumental for me. Although I have friends that have been single parents at one point or another in their life, I haven’t got any friends who are single parents right now. I head about the special family time people have had during lockdown. The amazing milestones that dads have been able to witness while their partners have been on maternity leave, and they’ve been working from home or furloughed. I’ve heard from friends about the relief they’ve felt when their partner takes over at 3am when the baby just won’t settle and wants another night feed. Hearing all that, and not having any of that support from a partner myself has been so so hard. While there are brilliant parents out there who manage to look past the troubles they have had in a relationship, and co-parent their children successfully, there are also so many out there who don’t have that relationship. There are so many parents out there battling parenthood completely alone. But I’ve done what I can. I’ve gotten life insurance and wrote my will to ensure my son is cared for should anything happen to me. I would any parent reading this to do the same.

So, this amazing single mama came walking into our mailbox. A single mum who played an instrumental part in the UK Government allowing single parents to form a support bubble. I felt like I was talking to a celebrity! If I hadn’t been able to form a support bubble, my life could have taken a much darker turn. I imagine that up and down the country, many other single parents feel the same.

SO, with this, I am pleased to announce that I will be formally supporting the national campaign for single parents’ equality, through Parenthood Matters. Single parents face discrimination throughout their daily lives, from the workplace to accessing housing. This has wide reaching implications for the lives of single parents and their children, including contributing towards higher rates of poverty, exacerbating the practical and emotional challenges faced by single parent families and culminating in lower levels of mental health wellbeing of single parents creating a negative cycle for the single parent family. 

The Equality Act, 2010 outlaw’s discrimination towards certain groups. These groups are referred to as protected characteristics. There are nine protected characteristics, namely, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Single parents are excluded from these characteristics which means employers, businesses and policy makers aren’t encouraged to proactively consider how they treat single parents and where unfair treatment of single parents occurs, it cannot be legally challenged. 

We are calling on our supporters to sign and share the petition calling for government to add single parents as a tenth protected characteristic: http://chng.it/FhdrG6bVp2

And we are asking any members who are single parents to complete the survey so we can gather data on the discrimination single parents face. The survey is anonymous, will only take ten minutes and will be used to influence MPs and the media. Please also share this with other single parent friends and networks: https://tinyurl.com/SingleParentDiscrimination 

You can find out more about the campaign at http://www.ellamentalmama.com/single-parent-rights/ or email the campaign on singleparentrights@gmail.com

As always, if you have a story to tell, or wish to give us your thoughts, you are more than welcome to email us at parenthoodmatters@gmail.com

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