Working Families dares to think that our lives don’t have to be the way they’ve always been. They are engaged in the daunting task of working towards changing our legislation and our culture. – Nicola Ralston, management consultant and Working Families supporter
I was lucky enough to be invited to the House of Lords recently for Working Families a charity which runs a free legal advice service for disadvantaged parents and carers seeking help with employment rights. They provide a free telephone helpline, plus online advice on the website and through individual emails and texts. They also provide specialist support for parents of disabled children through a dedicated adviser and a new outreach service to establish links with parents’ groups throughout the country.
As it was pointed out by Labour Peer Baroness Kingsmill – recent legislation cutting funding to Legal Aid means that charities like Working Families become even more vital. Working Families were especially proud to promote recent legislation ensuring women who had stillborn babies would be able to receive some money – rather than the previous situation – which has led to distressing calls from families.
I was surrounded by people interested in Workaholism, work life balance, affordable childcare, parental support to enable people to go to work. I was interested to talk to a telecommunications co. representative who, it emerged ironically, took her mobile on holiday. ‘Just for half an hour each day – it’s my choice – it just means it’s manageable when I get back.’
One of the great shifts in working life has been brought about by telecommunications companies. The previous generation were not interrupted in their home life by mobile phones. A relative commented over the ‘festive’ period how he was looking forward to being six foot under so he wouldn’t be bothered by his blackberry every five minutes. He has two children who have to accommodate the unwanted bleepings and burpings of his phone from international time zones uninterested in the anti-social hours in which they’re calling including school runs and bed times. (The relative has told them not to call at certain times. It goes unheeded).
Both the telecommunications rep and the relative are stressed out by their jobs. I’m not sure if it’s a time management issue, the volume or nature of the work. But an endless stream of incoming communication won’t ease their situation.
So it is excellent to find a charity that acknowledges the importance of having a family life.
In its contact with parents these key concerns have emerged over the past year:
- Employer imposed changes to working patterns which undermine parents’ ability to combine work and childcare;
- Childcare costs and tax credits changes forcing parents into impossible choices; and
- Pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
Whether you give your time, experience, support or donations, there are lots of different ways to get involved with Working Families. During the evening we were also introduced to Declan who is running the marathon in aid of the charity. He can be sponsored here:- http://www.justgiving.com/Declan-Anderson.
Find out more about the charity here: www.workingfamilies.co.uk