Episode 9: Single Parents Day 2024

Last updated: 21/03/2024

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In this episode we hear from Martha Mattos Coelho, a single parent and an elected member of the City of Edinburgh Council. In May 2023, she brought forward a motion at Edinburgh City Council in support of recognising Single Parents Day. The motion received unanimous support. She reflects on becoming a single mum (the joys and the challenges) and what drove her to become involved in local politics.

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I'm a single parent. I love my children, but I'm also an adult. So please, especially for women, especially for mothers, don't forget it. Don't forget to enjoy yourselves.

- Martha Mattos Coelho, Councillor and single parent

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Podcast transcript

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Hello, and welcome to the one parent Family Scotland podcast. My name is Philippa, and today I’m joined by Martha Martels Coelho. Martha, would you like to start by saying a little bit about yourself, your experience of being a single parent?

Martha Martels Coelho: Thank you, Philippa. Yes. So I think I can say I’m quite a recent single mother. I’ve been a, um, single mother, uh, ever since shortly before lockdown. Long story short, I moved to Scotland from Portugal roughly eight years ago, a bit over eight years ago. And I came with my then husband and a child. We moved, took some time to settle in like everyone else, but a year later, I felt pregnant from my second child. And as in all marriages, things sometimes don’t go the way we were initially planning. A lot has changed when we moved to Scotland. In my case in particular, I come from a very traditional country where women, um, I think things are changing now, but I haven’t been there for a while. But we women, especially people like me, that are quite passionate about social reasons and the community and everything they can do to help the world may a better place are not really the most welcome day. We are called outspoken and use all those labels. So I literally felt that I wasn’t in my environment, and moving to Scotland gave me that openness, and I was able to become myself. So that also changed. My not changed, I think, released my personality. And that’s probably why things with my now ex husband started going different. We started going different ways. We had a conversation, and roughly three weeks before the first lockdown, my ex husband left. So I became a single mother at the same time as lockdown hit us. So, as you can imagine, it was not an easy experience, but I took the opportunity. I thought, well, you have two choices. Either is you give up or you use that strength to become, uh, a better version of yourself. And, um, I’m not saying it was easy, but, uh, it did open the world to me completely different. So, literally, for the first few months of lockdown, six to eight months, I was kind of trying. First of all, like everyone else, what’s going on around us, second of all is how am I going to be on my own with two kids, plus work, plus home school? My oldest, my youngest was three by then. So I became a single mother in a, uh, very challenging time. I literally lived for my kids at that point. So it was a lot about how am I going to survive. On the other hand, oh, I don’t need to go to the office. I can eat at home. So it was kind of, let’s look at the bright side of things. My employer was very understanding. Um, got to a point where I literally asked, can I be made redundant? Because I can’t cope. Obviously, this is not really the legal way to do things, but they did understand what was going on. I was working with some clients that pull off all the work because they panicked as well. So they kind of said, yes, we have a justification to make you redundant. Which meant that I was living on 80% of my income, but also had more time for my kids. The schools tried to support as much as they could, but they also were struggling. So I became a single mother about, let’s say, four years ago now, almost to the day, I’m looking at almost to the day. I think the first lockdown was about the 20 march. And since then, it’s an experience. I’ve been embracing the experience, if you want to, and learning from it.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Yeah, I suppose, um, it must have been particularly challenging becoming a single parent during lockdown because the normal kind of support networks that you might have at your disposal wouldn’t be available.

Martha Martels Coelho: I think there was a lot of support then. What happened was people took a while for people to understand what they could do. I think everyone, um, was, and I am extremely lucky in the sense that I have made friends everywhere I’ve been. And my youngest, his name is Scott, he was born in Scotland, so it makes sense. When my youngest was a baby and I was on maternity leave, I joined quite a few groups. And one of the groups I joined is called, uh, the Edinburgh buggy walks. And I met some of my closest friends by then. And these were the people that supported me from when we were in lockdown. We all lived close together at that. The first instance was my closest friends was the people I had with me. And then, as you know. And society opened to everyone. Everyone was helping everyone. I think lockdown has had some bad things. Obviously, the impact of mental health, you know this better than me, but it also brought the good in people. And all of a sudden, we were all helping each other. And, uh, there was a lot of support that came from it. And one parent farm has made me also meet quite a few very interesting mothers. Some of them became my friends, and from them, I met other people as well.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): And what would you say would be the best part about being a single parent for you personally?

Martha Martels Coelho: I’m going to be very honest. Maybe I’m not going to say what everyone says. Having my life, my time back, I feel that I love my kids and I’m very like in the sense that I have a shared custody, so I have 50 50. And what was happening while I was still married was my ex works shifts, and he works in a hotel. So many times the shifts change, things change. And I never had time for myself. Even when I asked him kind of, could you take this day off? Because I love the mountains, I love paddleboarding, everything outdoors, I’m there. And obviously this is something you need to take the day off to go and do. And, um, many, many times last minute there was changes, and I couldn’t go right now because we have a really strong structure that he cannot play around anymore. Whereas when we were married, he would just play around with it. Because obviously, being a couple, you work things together. I didn’t think I had a choice. Now I have a choice. Uh, so I was working Monday to Friday. My ex was working whatever hours the hotel needed. So having my time back, having that structure, is allowing me to be happier because I have time to do the things that make me happy and also will give more to my kids because I’m happier organizing. I think having the time and having a structure now in place, it’s been probably the best time for best thing for me.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): And, uh, do you think it’s changed your sense of identity, being a single parent?

Martha Martels Coelho: Oh, yes, it’s completely changed. Society still thinks a lot about two parents families, about, uh. Um, society thinks that the family has two parents. It’s a man and a woman and x amount of children. Society still doesn’t think about parents in a non between commas, traditional way, because what is a traditional family? A traditional family is someone that cares for their children. Doesn’t matter how many people they are involved in, what genders they are, or what they identify themselves with. So becoming a single parent opened my eyes to many things. For instance, one of the things I found absolutely incredible is finding out that because I’m a single parent, I have 25% discount in quite a few range of things. But there’s only one income coming, why don’t I have 50% discount? So, for instance, that was one the other thing was to do with. And in my case, that I’m a single mom and I’m also an immigrant, so there’s no family around to help. There is still, society still believes that, yes, there will be a mother there to take care if the father has a meeting until later or the other way around. Oh, that’s fine. The grandparents can jump in and help out. No, that’s not the case. There’s no grandparents around and even if they were grandparents around. Why do I need to choose my work to my life? My family is my first, obviously, job between commas. It’s not the best word to describe it, but my first commitment is to my family. So, yes, it is a way of living. It is a way of living. Although as I said before, I do have, uh, my time, very structured now. And I found out, yes, I’m also an adult. I’m not just a mom, the way I’m doing things again. So I’m enjoying the best of two worlds at the moment, and I’m very outspoken about this, and I keep telling people to do the same. You’re a single mother. Yes. But you’re also a human being. But yes, there are challenges and that’s, ah, probably why we are talking today.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Yeah. And do you think there’s still, um, stigma about being a single parent? You mentioned before, the norm is to have two parents. And society doesn’t seem to have caught up with the fact that there actually are one in four. Um, families are single parent families.

Martha Martels Coelho: There is a bit of stigma still. I think there is, and there will be. This has to do with education. It has to do with the way how we. There will always be stigma, there will always be misunderstandings. What I hoped people do was people would talk more. I see a lot of people assuming that, oh, you’re a single parent, because, I don’t know, you had a one night stand with someone and you fell pregnant. Oh, sometimes that’s not the story. Well, I was with my ex for 20 years, so that’s not clearly my story, but I know I have one of my closest friends and this is someone that I’m really proud of, and she’s a really strong woman. She decided to become a single mother on her own. There’s no father around. It was her choice. And I have a close colleague of mine that decided, came to us on the other day, really proud. She said, I’ve been accepted to be a foster mother and she’s a single on her own. She wants to be a single mother. My friend wants to be single. Why not? Why is that a problem? It isn’t a problem. Quite the opposite. These people should be empowered and cherished and acknowledged as so strong that in the end of the day, the amount of sacrifice they are putting forth to bring children to the world on their own, it’s absolutely amazing. So there is stigma. I think there is a lot of education that still needs to be taught. There’s a lot that people need to learn and people need to not be afraid to ask questions, talk about it, talk with people. Don’t assume things. And I think one parent family, Scotland, must know this way better than me. How many parents will go to you saying, oh, I can’t do this, and you can again. So the assumption goes from both ends. But again, we’re talking about stigma, talking about misconceptions and discrimination. There is a lot of assumptions, uh, um, from society overall and from people. It is culturally as know in Scotland, we are so diverse. We have people from cultures where if you become a single parent, you can actually be removed. You know, what mean, so. And here we are, very welcoming. We have people from all over the world. This is a fabulous culture. And one of the reasons I fell in love with Scotland, I had to do with that as well.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Martha M, you’re an elected official, so you’re a councillor for a city of Edinburgh council. Um, I’m just wondering, what was it that motivated you to move into politics in the first place? And was being a single parent one of the reasons that you wanted to move into politics?

Martha Martels Coelho: So I have to answer this question in two parts. Um, the first part is, I joined politics after Brexit, and I was still married by then, so I didn’t join politics because I was a single parent. Um, by then, what happened was I felt that Scotland hadn’t been heard and that something else had to be done. And then that prompt my start in politics. Um, I joined the party. I became quite active in the party. And few years on, here I am, an elected member representing a, uh, party in the city of Edinburgh council. When I was invited by my party to stand for election, there was a few reasons. There were three main reasons, and one of the reasons was being a single parent. So by then, I was a single parent. So I didn’t join politics because I was a single pendant. But I put my name forward to election because I was a single parent. So two of the three reasons were one being a single mother, the other one being a foreign national living in Scotland. The third reason is very politically charged, so I will spare you the details. But yes, uh, it was the reason I stood for election, and it’s still the reason why in the chambers so many times, I have to remind people about single parents. I’ll give you a few examples. So we are talking about, uh, on the single parents date, it’s going to be celebrated in the chambers for the first time ever because of a motion I brought forward. The time for reflection today is going to. Our speaker is the Edinburgh regional representative of one periphery, Scotland. I hope I said name properly. Um, there will be an invite. We’re going to invite, uh, at lunchtime, we’re going to have some single parents having lunch with us and talking with elected members about their experiences. This all was prompted because of me and I’m quite proud of it. And it’s the fact that each time there is. I’ll give you a few examples of how I am trying to make small steps, but to make people aware that we exist and we have an impact. For instance, committees. Many times committees. Committees are supposed to start around half 910, but sometimes we have to have meetings before that. And we had a meeting at nine, a briefing at nine, and I had to say, hold on a second. Single parents especially, parents overall, but single parents especially that don’t have anyone else to support them, need to drop the kids at school and then be wherever, even if they are working from home, to be available to be in a meeting. If we drop the kids at ten to nine, which is my son’s case, and I think most schools are not very far from there. Even if I run, I can’t do at home at nine, so please don’t start anything before half nine. Also, try to make all the meetings as much as possible in the morning, during school hours. Sometimes it’s not possible, but most of the times it is. Uh, and I sit in two very busy committees and I love them both. I can’t complain about them. And one of them is planning, the other one is regulatory. So they both will touch in things that will be linked to families, not just education. Um, and I have to ask several times, uh, sorry not to ask several times. The last time we had a regulator, we had a very important decision to make about the future of sexual entertainment venues in the capital. And I wanted to be there, but the meeting started at half twelve and I had to pick up my son at three or 315. Hm. I chose to pay after school club to stay in that meeting. I will not be reimbursed for that money, but if I had taken a taxi, I would be reimbursed for the money. So this is things. And I have made the scottish government aware of this many times. There was a survey that came to all the elected members about this, about, uh, what would you change? It’s not just the payment. Our payments aren’t great. I do get universal credit and I am very verbal about this because I put myself forward for election to make things right, and I still need to claim universal credit. It seems incredible. Yes. Parliamentarians from both parliaments, they have good salaries. Let’s, uh, not talk about it. But we make the things on the ground. We are on the schools. You know what I mean? So I am all the time making people aware. It’s meeting times. It’s about. For instance, on the other day, I had to attend a meeting from home because otherwise I would have to leave really early and I wouldn’t be able to stay in the meeting for as long as possible. And, uh, that’s the thing. I was talking about lockdown earlier. Lockdown has had bad impact and good impact. And the good thing that has happened is we are able to participate in hybrid meetings. The other challenges I have, for instance, community council meetings, any meetings that happen in the evening are a challenge. If you have kids. And some of the local groups don’t want to make them online, they want to make them in person because it’s easier for them. Well, I understand that, but if we make them in person, I can’t attend. Uh, I showed everyone what would happen if you take a kid to a meeting. So I literally took my seven year old with me to a community council meeting. It was mayhem. And the people were aware that, yes, I made an effort to be there. I’m very involved with my community as much as I can, but there’s a limit. So got to a point where my son was literally, mom, can I have your phone? Interrupting me all the time or running about or doing whatever. And I said, I need to leave. So this community council in particular, they are quite good. They make, most of their meetings are hybrid. They make, I think it’s once a month or every two months. They make it in person for the people that are not it savvy, but there are the groups that only make committees or events in person. So there is still a lot going on. But lockdown brought us the alternative. There are options. So this is what I’m doing sometimes every day. Sometimes it’s every day.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): I suppose that’s the importance of having people in elected positions with lived experience.

Martha Martels Coelho: Uh, exactly. In so many ways, lived experience, disabled people. It’s fundamental. Do you have people that are carers? We are carers as well. We had, um, elected members were invited to, uh, a training with vocal last week about what are carers? What are the role of carers? Carers are not just people taking care or paid by to take care of older people or disabled people. We are carers, especially as single parents. We are carers. Right. So all these people with all this experience should be in elected roles at some point and to influence decision and be decision makers. It’s so, so important. So I don’t think about, I don’t leave my house in the morning to come to the city chamber, say, right, I need to remind everyone that I’m a single parent. And this happens naturally because of my lived experience. I’ve only been a single parent for the past four years. So imagine I have a colleague of mine, uh, that, um, she second my motion about single parents day. She’s been a single parent most of her adult life, so obviously her experience is way broader than mine and she also brings that on board. It’s fundamental. It’s so important.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): And what do your children think about you being an elected official? Are they excited about it or.

Martha Martels Coelho: That’s quite hilarious. So for them, it’s just a job. And how do you explain to a child what it is to be an elected member? To be fair, how do you explain to some people in society that I don’t have a, ah, nine to five, Monday to Friday work job. We are in that very gray area that we are not employed by, but we are not all managers of. It’s very complicated. So my youngest son, that’s a nice, funny story to tell you. Last week I had a meeting at his school with the police, the head teacher, the, uh, active travel team, and, uh, the team that is in charge of the lollipop people because there has been quite a few issues in the area. So we met and I came out doing lunch break and I remember looking at the head teacher and say, I just hope Scott doesn’t see me. And then she laughed and I just left because I had to leave earlier because I had another meeting. Uh, it does happen, which is meetings back to back all the time. Um, but I have a big yellow jacket, so there’s no way I can be passing a group of kids jumping around without being seen. So I left the building and I thought he hadn’t seen me. So when I came to pick him up, he came to say, mom, yeah? Can you come to school one day and tell my friends what you do? Said, what you mean? So I spoke with the teacher and she said, yeah, he saw you coming out of the meeting. Uh, what my son thinks is, I work for the council and I sometimes work with his hat teacher. Well, it’s not really that. My oldest son is a teenager. Is there any need to say anything else? I am trying to make them aware I do take them, especially my youngest, more than my oldest two litter pigs. To local events, community events, a lot. I want them to participate and, uh, what I try is not to put them on the spotlight. So, yes, uh, in my ward, there’s quite a few things going on, uh, and I take the kids to those events and they play with other kids again, especially my youngest. My oldest, being a teenager, is on his phone most of the time, and I do my networking and I help people by then because I always have the council phone with me. For my oldest is just a job. For my youngest, yes. He’s now excited because he saw me meeting with his head teacher.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): That’s it for any single parents listening to this podcast who think that they might want to get involved in politics or become like, uh, yourself, an elected official in a council, what would be your advice to them?

Martha Mattos Coelho: First, I’d like to say that we need them. We need, uh, m as much diversity as we can. So I’m not just talk. Let’s get a bit broader. It’s not just single parents. We need parents. We need carers, we need disabled people. We need black, asian, yellow, blue, green. People from all countries and none. And from all genders and none. Single parents in particular will bring, like, I am trying, um, a completely new perspective. So I am very happy to help anyone that wants to. Depends on where you are. For instance, if you are in a region where most counselors, um, for instance, I can only talk about counselors, are independent, you may need to start your journey trying to maybe talk with local counselors, trying to find out how they got there, how they put themselves forward. Um, the other thing I always advise if you are in, um, a place like me. So in Edinburgh, it is very politically charged. So I did join a party, and it was through the party that I became a candidate and later on, an elected member. Um, the other thing is participating with your community, be present in your community, do things in your community, get involved with all the groups, if there are parent groups. For instance, I spoke about how I met some of my closest friends through buggy walks. Um, I am now a trustee of buggy walks as well, so I’m giving back what they gave me when I got divorced. One of the organizations that also helped me a lot going through the divorce process and the settled status, it was citizens Advice Bureau. Now I am a trustee of citizens Advice Bureau. So get involved with the organizations that have helped you or help them as well. One of the things I actually didn’t mention when I was in lockdown that literally saved my mental health was a group called Edinburgh Mask. Makers. I was a volunteer, I was making face, uh, masks. Uh, we made about over 10,000 to give away for people, for key workers to commute and families that needed to go somewhere. So they weren’t clinical and we had the disclaimer, we spoke with NHS, everything was, but brought me so many leadership skills and brought me a focus. So getting involved with these organizations, with any organizations in your area, found your passion. What’s your passion? I know what my passions are and that’s why I joined politics and why I am where I am. Your passions will take you there. So if you are a single parent and you’re passionate about making people aware of what you go through in order to thrive and how you help your kids, go and get involved in the politics, local community politics, not just the political parties. Okay, I hope this makes sense, but get involved with your community as much as you can, and talk with local elected members, ask them what their journey was. I think it’s follow their steps if you want to. If you’re like me and there’s a part you’re a member of or you identify yourself with, go and talk to them. They are someone, they are usually quite welcome. We’re not scary.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): One of the things which comes up time and time again with single parents that we support is, um, the problem that there’s not enough flexible, affordable childcare and, uh, particularly so for single parents who are the sole carers and earners for their own families. What do you think is the solution to this?

Martha Mattos Coelho: I agree, I’m completely on board on this. I completely agree what you were saying. Actually, uh, when I was firstly elected, I asked my group leader to put me in education because I thought I could on the education committee, I thought I could make some kind of changes. It isn’t easy. And I remember when my, and I wasn’t a single parent by then, and I struggled, uh, when my son was in nursery. So having a child, it’s not just nursery and nursery, primary school, obviously, but, uh, younger years in the education. It is a struggle for families with two parents and with grandparents around for them. It’s a struggle for single parents and special single parents like me. And there are many and one parent family. Scotland has introduced me to quite a few of them that were born elsewhere. So it is hard. There are some things being done already, um, that have helped, like 1140 hours of nursing provision, like the scottish child payment. Now, the earlier support extended two year olds, it’s still going on, but it’s going to happen. The free school meals there is a lot still to be done. I’m not going to even challenge you on that. You know this. What can be done, I’d love to know. Each time I have an idea and I know about it, I do bring motions to council about it. So it’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time. And this is an open invite to everyone that wants to. If you have ideas, and I know one parent family, Scott, to me, have spoken about a few times about ideas, and I have shared your ideas within, um, the committees and the right, um, people in the council to see if we can make those happen. It has all to do with money. We know budget is a problem. The Scottish government has done a lot of good things, but there is a lot still to be done.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): And, uh, Martha, you talked a little bit about the fact that you brought forward a motion in support of celebrating single parents day. Um, and we’re putting this podcast out on single parents day itself. So what’s planned for single parents day again at the city of Edinburgh council?

Martha Mattos Coelho: When I brought the motion forward to my group, my group thought it was fabulous. Um, they were very supportive. When I brought the motion forward in the chamber, I had unanimous support. All the groups supported, so all 63 councilors from five different political parties and one independent, they all supported it. So it was unanimous, but that was fabulous. So we are going, um, to be celebrating single parents day in the city chambers with quite a few things. We’re going to start today with. We have a big meeting today, which is the full council. When literally the 63 councilors, uh, meet, uh, with the officers. It’s when politics happens, let’s be honest, and scrutiny and new ideas are being brought forward. So, including in the events of the day, we’re going to have Jennifer Hamilton, one parent family Scott, and regional coordinator, uh, talking about the time of reflection. So it’s her time to pitch, if you want, about the needs of single parents, obviously, I’ll be there to support them at lunchtime. Single parents. I, um, have suggested that council staff that are single parents join us at lunchtime to talk with counselors, uh, about their biggest challenges. So, making a thing a bit more personal, um, because, as you know, listening to podcasts, reading papers is one thing, the conversation is different, being able to literally talk with someone and ask them so they will be with us at the end of the full council. Um, I have brought a motion forward to celebrate the 80th anniversary of one parent family Scotland.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS):

Yes. So we’re reaching 80th years this year, actually. It’s, uh, 1944 that were established. And interesting, slightly amusing story is that our original name was the Scottish Council for unmarried mothers, which unfortunately spells out, uh, the word scum.

Martha Mattos Coelho: I found it hilarious. Yeah. Unfortunately, it’s not that opfs, and we know that 92% of single parents are women, but there are men that are single parents, and I am friends with some of them and they do an amazing, uh, so it will be very much, uh, a single parents day event in the chambers. And I’m very happy that we will have, uh, Jennifer with us and, uh, some single parents with us, and, uh, hopefully the first of many years celebrating single parents in Edinburgh. And maybe we can do something bigger next year, I don’t know.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Absolutely. Thank you on behalf of one parent family Scotland, for putting forward that notion. I think, uh, as I say, this is the importance of having lived experience within the council, that it’s front and center of your mind because you’re living it every day.

Martha Mattos Coelho: And we will raise awareness towards other people as well. As we’ve spoken before, it is a lot about educating people, people not making assumptions, people asking questions, and people not being afraid to ask any questions. So, if nothing else, this will raise awareness.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Um, the theme that we’ve chosen for single parents day this year is recognition. So the theme being that we recognize the contribution that unpaid carers, single parents make every day, um, by being present for their families and doing everything they can to provide for their families. What does the same recognition say to you?

Martha Mattos Coelho: Exactly that. Exactly what you said. So, um, I don’t remember exactly the numbers, but I’ve read this time and time again, even paid carers most of the time, in two parents, couples are the woman, but single parent obviously is the only parent. If we were paid for the job we do, there wouldn’t be enough money to pay because we do so much. Uh, and I think it’s a fantastic theme in, uh, times like this, that cost of living. Christ, we are living through lots of challenges at the moment, and more than anyone else, single parents are going through that. And in the end of the day, we still have, or most of us, I hope, a smile in our faces and we cherish the things we love the most, which is our kids. So recognition is the way, it’s a fantastic thing for this year. And I think when parent family Scotland, and I think there are more organizations involved in this.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): That’s right. Parenting Northern Ireland Gingerbread, uh, Fife Gingerbread, uh, one family Ireland as well, are all kind of partnering with us to kind of push this single parents day celebration forward on a wider level than just Scotland.

Martha Mattos Coelho: Yeah, I think it’s amazing. I think it’s amazing. Although this did started on United States, I believe, um, it is time that we make it ours. Especially a, ah, country as diverse as Scotland. We have people from all over the world. I have brought ideas here from my original country and, well, I can’t do the other way around because I’m not involved in politics in Portugal and I don’t want to be. But I have, for instance, uh, I don’t want to diverge from what we’re talking, but tourist tax, this is something that we’re studying here, has been done in Portugal for some. So by bringing this forward to all the multicultural we have in our society in Scotland, this may be passing to other countries. So well done. That’s the way to do it.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Is there anything else you’d like to say, Martha? Uh, is there a message that you’d like to put, uh, out to single parents? Listening to this podcast today, to all single parents.

Martha Mattos Coelho: And I’m going to focus on women, if you don’t mind, for a very simple reason. March is also International Women’s Day. It’s also Mother’s Day. So March is our month, um, and we are stronger than we think. And I know that when I became a single mother, um, I panicked in the beginning. Challenge is always hard. Someone has said, I forgot who it was. I should know my ma’am’s authors better. But I forgot that, um, change is hard in the beginning, mess in the middle, and beautiful in the end. And it is. And by becoming a single parent, I found out, as I said before, I have a life. I have a structured life. I’m a single parent. I love my children, but I’m also an adult. So please, especially for women, especially for mothers, don’t forget it. Don’t forget to enjoy yourselves. Don’t forget to put yourselves first when your kids are. If you’re lucky enough to have some respite from your kids, you can do the laundry later. You can do the washing later. Don’t worry about it. Go and pamper yourself. Especially march, more than ever, but every day, take some time for you. I think I know too many single mothers that are absolutely exhausted because when they’re not taking care of their kids, they are washing the clothes. If they’re not washing, they are clean. If they are cleaning, they are taking care of their elderly parents. If they are not taking care of their elderly parents. We do more than. We only have one life and one body so try to take it as long as possible. So my message, mostly for women, is you’re stronger. Yes. But put yourself first when you can. You will be happier, and your kids will be happy because of it as well.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Thank you, Martha. And thank you for taking the time, um, out of your busy schedule to talk to us today about single parents day. And thanks again for bringing forward the motion at, uh, city of Edinburgh council. And I hope it all goes well in the day and that, um, keep on doing what you’re doing.

Martha Mattos Coelho: Oh, thank you so much for having me. And, uh, my door is open, my email inbox is open if you have ideas. And let’s keep working together and try to one step at a time. I think we’ll get there. Okay. Thank you so much.

Philippa Kemp (OPFS): Thank you.