At the beginning of 2019 I was living in an over priced private rented 2 bed property, struggling to find work in sync with school or childcare full stop, let alone that would pay enough to cover the bills, feeling isolated and lonely and wishing I could gain more exposure to my business to enable me to do 3 things. 1) the school run (and essentially be ‘present’ for my daughter). 2) Be financially independent of needing help and 3) utilise my skillset and be fulfulled in my work. Despite my efforts I was locked out; locked out of a salary fitting for my skillset and locked out of a pension. I knew that I should be able to work for 20, 25 or 30 hours a week for a £30K pro-rata wage but I had NO CHANCE.
I kept fighting, I managed to exhibit at the NEC and turned over in a weekend the level of sales I should be achieving every week. It was just exposure. It is just a numbers game. When enough people know about your business, if your business is good, there is no reason not to succeed. Consequently I decided to make some noise about this. I wrote on my wall (see pic below) and I decided to create a network of women in similar shoes to help raise awareness of the issues of trying to work and manage a household on one income as a single-parent.
Now I can’t be clearer about this – you should be able to manage a household on one income! Society is completely messed up! Capitalism has been ungoverned and consequently rents and house prices have risen, way above inflation and wages have remained insultingly low.Tweet
In the 1950’s a man would work, he could manage the household on that salary, and he did not have to worry about before school or after school, the school holidays, a cleaner or a cook, he had it all. All he had to do was go to work and put the money on the table, the rest was taken care of. It WAS possibe to manage on one income. Now as a single-parent, we could also manage on one income, except we need to cover higher travel costs to commute to work, holidays, before and after school childcare and then we need to take care of the shopping, cooking, cleaning, ‘parenting’ and household bill management in between, and if we are lucky enough to work full-time for a fitting wage – we still need that work to let is travel back to childcare by 5:15pm (*dependent on area). It’s a miserable state of affairs.
What we have is millions of single mums who are called ‘work-shy’ and ‘benefit scroungers’ – can you see the choice! – and this does not just apply to single parents. The battle is there for all parents and a double salary should leave a household well off. It rarely does. We have 8 million families in-work relative poverty in the UK (see sites such as JRF and Turn2Us for stats), and so we turn to self-employment, because we are desperate to work, desperate to ‘increase’ our salary and desperate to do this in sync with childcare and school. And consequently are preyed upon constantly by capitalists asking mums to work for free.
Our Government has not governed this Country very well at all. Sadly they have no practical experience of what they are trying to govern and you may as well ask a ballerina to coach a rugby team. It’s embarassing and it’s leaving us all screaming and trying to be heard.
Of course the SMBN has taken off very well. With meetings now in ten Counties and with thousands of brochures shared at large scale exhibitions women are delighted to finally be getting some help, and realising that they are not alone. Awarded as a SmallBiz100 resulted in an invite to the House of Lords whereby The Lord Young of Graffham listened attentively whilst I pointed out that work in sync with childcare and pay in sync with inflation is needed.
The average salary in £29K – I hear this often. Average is an insult to the people on £16K, £17K, £18K £22K. The argument of average £29K is completely dismissive of those working full-time and unable to ever take their child to the cinema or for a meal out, let alone on a break to the seaside or shopping for ‘new’ shoes. This Country is a disgrace, and the wealth divide is inhumane. We have humans capitalising at the expense of other human beings and people forced out of home ownership (due to being unable to save for a deposit) and consequently paying more in private rent to a wealther estate, for life. And living in relative poverty further increases credit file problems and further locks people (human beings) out of credit resolve. We have plenty of advice on ‘saving’ but we still have professional financial institutions who still do not get what it is to work with a negative income. Rent, Bills and Fuel are MORE than salary for millions.
So, I have my passion with the SMBN – we have awards in May, to recognise the women fighting so hard, whilst also recognising the employers that DO offer work and pay in sync with school / childcare and inflation and we have many more things planned to help make some noise throughout 2020.
I spent 20 years working full-time and climbing the career ladder and I embarked on a Law Degree to help me provide for my daughter, but I did not expect to be locked out of millions of well-paid jobs once I became a mother just because of presenteeism, and it’s time for things to change.
I am lucky to now be free to speak my mind, I speak for those who are afraid to speak for themselves, I speak from experience, which can not be ‘learned’ in education, and sadly is not understood by our leaders, and so people get away with what they can, at the expense of fellow human beings who probably wouldn’t hesitate to save their life in the face of tragedy. How we can be so connected and disconnected at the same time is the ugliest mirror of humanity.
NB for years I begged for help with exposure, I begged exhibitions, celebs, the news, the press, magazines, I begged for exposure but you have to pay, and that is what I aim to make affordable via the collaboration of the SMBN.