Last updated: 04/02/2020
Suzanne is a single mum of two girls, based in Glasgow
What has your experience as a single parent been like?
I was with my kids’ dad for years and then we split up about six years ago and that’s when I became a single parent. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD four years ago and that was pretty tough. I have got sisters but they either live far away or they work full time, so I don’t have as much help there from them.
I struggle every day with money, I try to put a bit away every week so they’ll have a good Christmas but that impacts on daily living as well. We don’t get to do our weekly treats or our weekly trips that some families might do, you’ve just got to sacrifice things. When it comes to buying them their clothes and things like that it’s pretty hard.
Being a single parent is pretty hard in general and a lot of the time it will get you down. Trying to find work isn’t easy when you’ve got kids, especially with being out of work for a long time, because a lot of organisations don’t see that you’ve got skills.
How did you become involved with One Parent Families Scotland and what has the experience been like for you?
I’ve got two daughters and I’ve not worked from having my oldest one who’s 16 now. I’ve done a few college courses and stuff like that, then I was seriously ill a few years ago and I’m now at the stage of my life that I want to get back to work.
I’m on Job Seekers Allowance now so a year and a bit ago the Job Centre referred me to One Parent Families Scotland. I already knew about them because I’d been involved with them before I took ill and they were helping me back then to look for work. So, they’re the ones that are helping me get back to work now, helping me with CVs, application forms, stuff like that.
I come to a job club weekly on a Wednesday and we have an employability course on a Thursday, and if they need to see me on a one-to-one basis I’ll make an appointment which is usually every fortnight or every three weeks to see how I’m progressing. We get a lot of support from One Parent Families — they listen to what we need and see where they can go to help us.
- Suzanne, single mum
My wee Thursday group is preparing us for going back into work and there’s a lot of us there. When you see you’re not the only person in that situation and we can share stories, that’s where it helps and supports you. We don’t set out in life to become single parents and when you see other people in that situation, it doesn’t make you feel better, but you know you’re not alone.
My confidence is so much better from dealing with One Parent Families Scotland and them helping me look into work because I would never have thought of some of the jobs I could have done. When it’s on paper, all our skills as a parent, you realise you actually can transfer those skills for a lot of jobs. They make you realise what being a single parent is and how many skills you’ve got.
What would make things better for you as a single parent?
I don’t think things will ever be better for single parents but on the side of employability maybe employers being a bit more flexible for single parents. Childcare isn’t easy. Maybe just opening it up a bit more rather than it being set times for jobs, and not just for single parents. As long as you’re working your hours, if they opened it up to be flexible timing that would be so much better for everybody, but it would help single parents an awful lot.
I think there’s always a wee bit of stigma that single parents are single parents because they don’t want to work and they just want to be on benefits. We don’t want to be on benefits – nobody can live on benefits being a single parent, nobody. It’s the hardest thing ever.
A single parent has to feed and clothe a child, whether it’s one, two or three children, so there should be more availability there. Even if it’s grants or things like that which single parents can apply for, I definitely think there should be a wee bit more money. It’s hard enough living without all the added costs. I do see why they don’t give us as much because I know they’re trying to get us out to work so it’s a balance, really.
- Suzanne, single mum
What would be your advice to someone considering getting in touch with One Parent Families Scotland?
I’d tell them to get signed up right away and work with them because they will help them. Whether it’s even just to build your confidence – if it’s not even to help you into work – if it’s to build your confidence and start the process, definitely let them help because they’ve helped me. I was involved with them years ago and they helped me then and they’ve helped me again now.