Last updated: 04/02/2020
Anita is a single mum of two boys, based in Edinburgh
What challenges have you faced around employment as a single parent?
For me it’s the hours and how to manage with work and nursery or school. At that time, it was only three and a half hours for nursery, so it was like “what can I do and when can I work in those three hours?”.
I need to bring the kid today to nursery, I need to pick him up, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to work. If you’ve got a partner you could work at different times. Now I think it’s better because they’re extending it so it’s full time, so that’s a very positive thing. I think lots of parents will be happy that you get full time and straight away you’ve got bigger options.
But if I go back to work as a chef, which I was doing before, I’d need to work morning shifts, evening shifts, full days – that’s how they want it, so for me it was how to find something I want that works for me.
It’s difficult if you go to work and they think you’ll probably need to take time off and the kids will be ill. When my first was just born and I went back to work and the employer was considering who to leave at work, that was the main issue because she knew I would have to take lots of days off because of the baby.
That’s a big issue when they know you don’t have anyone else to rely on. The way they’re looking at you straight away and they’re already judging you and they will probably give the opportunity to someone without kids.
How did you become involved with One Parent Families Scotland and what has it been like for you?
I had two boys, one was two at that time and I knew in one year’s time he would go to nursery and I would need to go out and find work. I was working as a chef before, so I couldn’t manage the hours with the children. I was at the Job Centre applying for income support and they showed me the One Parent Families Scotland leaflet and said maybe they can help me.
When I first started the course with Helen, which was called Working Right, I had no idea what I was going to do. I knew I needed to change something, but I didn’t know what and where and how I could manage everything.
It really helped me to understand myself, what I’m interested in, what I really want – I basically found myself in that course. After that I started my children’s party business so I’m very grateful for all the support.
- Anita, single mum
‘Preparing for the Future’
The second course I did was ‘Preparing for the Future’, where I did training. We went through every small topic, which are kind of understandable but you don’t pay attention to in everyday life: what are your goals, what do you want to achieve, interviews and what you need to do to be prepared. For me I needed to do a business plan, the insurance, all the small things, and Helen helped me so much.
It was a brilliant experience for me. If I was on my own and thought I want to start a business I would have no idea where to start, but the course helped me a lot. And even now One Parent Families is supporting me – if there are events, Brock and Tom invite me to help them with different stuff like glitter tattoos and balloons so I’m very grateful they are helping to grow my business.
Everyone had the option to choose which field they wanted, and Helen tried to find something similar where we could volunteer, which was a big help. If I’m thinking I want to volunteer somewhere, you have to go and find the right place. Helen arranged everything for me, when is suitable for me and when is suitable for them.
I did volunteering at a flower shop because of Helen’s advice that if I went to parties I would just be asked to clean tables because I had no experience, whereas if I went to the flower shop which was very busy, doing weddings and events, that would give me more ideas of how to deal with different suppliers and where to find them.
- Anita, single mum
We did six or eight weeks and it was at Christmas time, so it was really busy, and I learned about a totally different field and it got me out. At that time, I was always at home with the children so from that side it was very beneficial. I started to go out more, to be more open to people, to be more confident about myself, so I was starting to socialise more.
The other thing that was very beneficial was that when you’re always with the kids and you don’t work you get out of a routine. It helped with getting me back in that routine and with how to organise my time; how to get myself ready, get the kids ready and get myself there. It’s not easy if you’re alone with the children to do all that and be on time.
Now I’m doing another course with Sofia about health and wellbeing. It’s also very good, I love it. I’m still with the organisation, still going to courses. It’s more for myself, to get out from home, talk to other people. When you’re at home all the time with the children it feels safer to stay at home. Sofia guides you and points out that it’s okay and you’re not the only one thinking like that and you just need to go out and be more sociable.