We have all fought this year. We all have our own personal challenges and triumphs. The main thing is that we are here to tell the tale. We all know the dance isn’t over, but we all know it will be soon. Whatever you have survived for 9 months, you will survive for 3 more. The human timescale for rebirth and readjustment. A future that learns from the past.
This is how 2020 looked for the Single Mums Business Network, aka SMBN
In 2019 I set-up a nice little business network, with a purpose of helping members know that they weren’t fighting solo for exposure, whilst strengthening the universal plea for flexible working for parents and primary carers, a mission to explain the misconception that many of us choose to be a strain on the economy, and the truth that we are more prisoners of stubborn ways. I was awarded a SmallBiz100 and took the SMBN brochures to give to the Lords, I spent thousands on exhibitions and brochures and hours, weeks and months, fighting for support and exposure. I was proud that my members weren’t fighting solo to survive in the world of self-employment, zero pension, zero holiday and zero comradeship. Then came 2020. The SMBN was very focussed on business, but in 2020 it needed to combine as some personal support was needed too. Members lost income, some were threatened with eviction, I was e-mailing public and private landlords all over the UK. Council Tax bills were amended and bailiffs were threatened. New applications for Universal Credit, waits that extended to months. Mortgages threatening not to honour mortgage holidays, and Government treating new businesses as they were fraudulent for not yet having tax returns. In 2020, millions of people learned that Universal Credit would NEVER be a lifestyle choice, and that it is not an easy way to live, and would not afford you mortgage / rent, plus bills, plus food. Food banks were the norm, and when pride was too great, bills took the hit instead, and millions have new debt and new pressure, as a result of paying a lifetime of tax to ensure you are not destitute in your hour of need, to learn the reality, that whilst the Gov are entitled to your money, you are not entitled to it back.
It was a year of fighting, letter writing, emails, interviews, I had a response from HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I asked not for action, but just for acknowledgement that they were aware of the barriers to work, the inconsistencies with working hours and childcare, and the consequent lack of furlough in the sanctuary of employment. They did acknowledge, and I trust that this is on their radar now. I have been exhausted, I completely burned out, still as a single mum, running a business and in employment and the SMBN, and consistently pushing fight and positivity,. I wanted it all to be over by 2021, as we all did, but we have one last mountain to climb, and climb it we will. My energy is beat and I am resting, working only from WordPress that will wish you all a new year for me.
But, even with burnout, this is what is fantastic…. I have made plans, I have taken on a UK Head of Membership, Wellbeing, Engagement and Growth, to be my No.2 in 2021, because I believe in the SMBN, I do not want these ladies to feel that they have to deal with this alone, and now I don’t have to deal with it alone either. I shall look forward to welcoming her in the new year… and what else is brilliant. How the SMBN HAS helped in 2020… We have been on ITV News a few times, we have been on the BBC Radio across various regions on several occasions, we have been in the National and Local Press. Thanks to the platform that has made it easy to find hard working single mums, we have been approached, members have benefitted from exposure opportunities they would have otherwise missed, and we have been seen, and heard, our voices and our challenges have been heard. We have this fantastic article in Lady Magazine, because the exhibitions were closed, I wanted members to be seen by a fresh audience.
I personally broke down in June (ish) when I was turned away from a shop for not leaving my child at home, the most humiliating experience as my daughter cried, unable to understand why the store manager was shouting at us to leave as the queue stared on, and watched us drive away with our heads down in tears, I could not got us food, we could not shop on-line as bookings were full and we were not vulnerable. I came home and contacted all of my press contacts because I did not want that to happen to another parent and child. Until this episode I had managed to protect my daughter from feeling like she was in adversity in any way.
We managed to pull off the first National UK Awards, for Single Parents and those who support us, despite having to rearrange, then cancel, and refund thousands. But we had an online prize ceremony, members and non-members won great prizes, trophies and certificates were sent in the post, and spirits were once again lifted. Please see the Gallery below for the best bits!
So, what I am trying to say, is that 2020 has been tough for us all, but not as tough as for those who are no longer with us. Trust me that whatever you are going through you will get through. Don’t give up trying your very hardest to make it all work, and if you burn out, give yourself rest, but do not quit. We all recover, that is the beauty of our human nature. The sun will shine, not tomorrow, but soon. Let’s concentrate on what is imminent, and that is fun in the future. Survive the winter, and thrive from the Spring. You’ve got this!
I managed to publish my book as an Audiobook this year, and, I was awarded Working Mums Membership Director of the Year by Acquisition International, and the #SheCan365 book was printed!. I was also pleased for the boost. I am like a rechargeable battery, and some of my members have ended up supporting me, which was never meant to be on the agenda, so the SMBN, is more than a business network, and more of a pack, a pack that I will keep fighting for, even if I need help and I am in the background.
Thank you to all of you have taken the time to read this blog, that does help too x Jules
And what’s coming up?! I am meeting with County Coordinators in January, and meeting dates for the Year will be on the website soon, the 2021 National Conference and Awards in October 23rd and nominations are open, and we have some special events planned below:
For Gamechangers and Fledglings, working together.