The Maternity Petition is where we all began.
Two petitions were started, one by our very own Bethany Power, for the extension of Maternity leave due to the effects of Covid-19. I think any parent on Maternity leave (or Paternity or adoption leave!) this year can attest to the fact that this is far from what we expected. When I pictured the time I would spend with my baby girl, I imagined days spent with family, days on the beach as she wiggled her little toes into the soft sand, play dates with all the little friends we made at our local stay and play. I did not imagine being locked in the house permitted out for one hour a day, battling mental health issues with no support bar the offer of antidepressants, and crying after visiting the supermarket due to the sheer stress of this alien world. And so, because of this, and countless other reasons, our mission and our fight begun.
The Maternity Petition has been featured on countless different media outlets. On TV news channels, in various different newspapers, on the radio countless times, and even discussed in parliamentary sessions with the Prime Minister. The Petitions Committee held review sessions with experts at the top of their respective fields, involved MPs and Ministers alike. It has now been raised with the Prime Minister 3 times now; by myself in the People’s PMQs, by MP Gavin Robinson in the ‘normal’ PMQs, and by MP and head of the Petitions Committee Catherine Mckinnell in the latest Liaisons Committee meeting. Despite this and despite his promises to review the Maternity Petition report, the Prime Minister implied he had no knowledge of the report or the issues new parents are facing. I don’t know about you, but that anyone could promise to review anything 3 times and still claim to have no awareness is incredibly worrying.
As you are likely aware, the government rejected almost all of the recommendations made in the Maternity Petition report, even those as basic as putting information in place for employers so that they know how to respond and support new parents through these troubling times. I know many of you will be feeling dejected. I was there myself, and it is so incredibly hard to stay optimistic when those in power are blind to our troubles. But the fight is not over. You may be back at work now, and while an extended leave may no longer be what is best for you and your family, the Maternity Petition report makes several recommendations that would support all new parents. Here at Parenthood Matters, we continue to fight for measures that would benefit families.
So what can you do? Write to your MP. We have a sample letter you can use, as well as a press release you can link to. Find them here: https://parenthoodmatters.co.uk/the-maternity-petition/
Here on this blog we are going to be featuring Covid-19 Maternity stories. Do you have a story to tell? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact us section below.