The ‘Maternity Petition’

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 parenthoodmatters@gmail.com or use the contact us section below.

Reform the Childcare System Petition is Live!

Thanks to the Petitions Committee, the Government petition to ‘Reform the Childcare System’ has now been published, and is live earlier than we expected! We need you to push this petition. One of the reasons that the Maternity Petition gained the attention it did, was because of quickly it gained signatures. So push this now. Send it to your mates. Send it to your mum. Go and knock on your next door neighbours door and get them to sign too.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/550767

Without investment in childcare, and a reform of the childcare system, mothers will be left behind. At the Liaisons Committee on 27th May it was acknowledged that female workers have been hit harder by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister stated that “childcare is absolutely critical for the success of the economy” and that he would do “whatever it takes to help get women back into work”. While schools and nurseries have now been reopened, with the costs of childcare being unaffordable for many, and many areas once again not permitted to rely on informal childcare through Grandparents, once again parents are faced with being unable to work. We know that mothers take on the majority of childcare responsibilities, and so women will continue to be disproportionately impacted by lockdown measures. This will affect everybody. The maternal employment rate is crucial to the success of the economy, and a drop would take an incredibly long time to recover from. In recent years, the rates of maternal employment reached 75%, up from 66% in 2000. This progress is being reversed, and without drastic intervention it will not recover to pre-crisis levels. The economic recovery of the whole country relied on getting men and women back to work, but without childcare parents will be left behind, and the economy will not recover and many more families will be reliant on the benefit system.

Though we have put a solution forward that we believe would provide the much needed support while also balancing the costs, we are open to other solutions that would provide the support families need whilst also supporting the early years sector. Our proposed solution is a sliding scale of funding based on household income, while also placing a cap on the hourly price of childcare, at a level that would allow childcare settings to profit. We would like childcare funding to be in place from when the parent ends their Maternity, Paternity or Adoption leave. On the face of things, this may look like higher income families lose out, in actual fact this would mean the funding they receive would simply be spread out over the years, rather than only being in place from ages 3-5. We want funding support to be in place for children of all ages. Not just from 3 as it is now. It would also hopefully provide the support early years setting require.

We are not experts on the childcare system. We are parents who know that as it is childcare is unaffordable for us and many parents like us, and that nurseries are struggling. Change is needed. Reform is need. While you may not agree with the solution we have put forward, if you agree that reform is needed, then sign this petition. If this petition gets enough signatures, then a parliamentary debate will take place and a discussion around the change that is needed will take place. The problems that families are facing will be put to the people who can make the decisions. And that’s what we need. The people who can make the decision to sit and acknowledge that change is needed, and hopefully (finally) do something.

Sign the petition. Reform the Childcare System.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/550767

Our first blog post….


Hi!

This is our first blog post on Parenthood Matters, and my first time ever writing a blog. I don’t think the embarrassing Tumblr, featuring far too much Harry Potter fanfiction, that I had as a teenager counts!

I’m Beth. There’s 3 of us called Beth in the Parenthood Matters team (Beth, Bethany, and Bethan), so don’t worry if you get confused. I’ll forgive you. We all met whilst campaigning for the “Maternity Petition”, and together in our group chat, with Lorraine and a couple of anonymous mums, we pondered what to do next. We’d loved campaigning and wanted to keep fighting the good fight for parents, and so after many a late night talk Parenthood Matters was born.

At it’s core, Parenthood Matters is a group for parents of all ages who want to improve things for families. If you’re politically minded, if you consider yourself a bit of an activist, or simply want to learn how to navigate the constantly changing world we find ourselves in, then this is the place for you. We know how hard things are for parents right now, and so we want to create a judgement free zone for parents to discuss the times we face.

We’ll be fighting for you. Fighting for the reduction in the cost of childcare. Fighting for the vital support parents need and aren’t getting. Fighting for awareness of issues that aren’t given enough limelight. So while we do that, lets have a bloody good chat, lets get active and stand up for what we believe in.

You’ll hear me say this a lot, but I truly believe that if we had more women in the rooms where the real decisions are made, then the country would be doing a hell of a lot better than it is now.

So for tonight I’ll keep this short and sweet. The husband has just put The Boys season 2 on Amazon, and the sofa is calling my name.

Ta ta,

Beth S xx