The summer holidays are upon us!
I am fortunate I haven't had to battle to find my son childcare in a market where many centres are closing down due to the cuts in government funding. Monday morning my son and I can get up at our leisure and then plan what to do, together.
He's allowed to sit in the pub with me, not ideal, but at least there's no panicking to find someone or some place to take him while I work there.
Why then am I saying don't begrudge me working mothers?
A meeting last night, at the school, about the after school club. A preliminary meeting about what to do now council funding has reduced.
I'd been called in the morning asking whether I could represent those with concessions.
I was late getting there so listened to the various models being discussed - two members of staff, school governer, four parents including me, thrashing out ideas.
Then one says that the service could be "considered a "luxury" for those on income support who " don't actually need the service."
I said nothing, just smiled at one of the members of staff, as with her fingers she put the word "luxury" in quotations. Well, you do have to be careful what you say....
Not long after this, following a discussion on the number of concessions vs the number of full paying parents, this mother says she is a single mother and needs the service because she works.
Then she say that her son goes to a football club twice a week that costs her £3. £3 a week! My turn to think "lucky you!" Lucky, all kinds of children, disadvantaged or not.
The discussion banded around different models - get more parents paying full price? Reduce the ratio of concessions? No-one wants to lose this service and no-one wants to see existing staff face redundancy because the costs can't be met.
I spoke up at the end but citing my pub job, not my volunteering. Citing the paid stuff, not the unpaid stuff backing myself up with figures I was given at the citizen's advice bureau.
"It's an emotional issue," said the governer and unfortunately yes it is..
I failed to articulate any kind of defence for mothers on "income support". I know so many and most of them through the volunteering I do. I thought of Lucky and her mental breakdowns, other mother's I've met who are under so much pressure it is actually better for their child to be in the safety of the school/playcentre. I didn't say that though. No! Public speaking isn't my strong point... practice my weakness though, isn't that what I wrote yesterday?!
The purpose of this post as I digress further and further into all this, is the greatest assumptions made on "income support" mothers are often made by single working mothers, in my experience anyway. Maybe they feel that they can point the finger and they are only saying what other people are thinking. The mother yesterday didn't know I was a stigmum, though did at the end...things are never as clear as you think they are, we should all try to support one another really through these inflammatory issues....
I want after school clubs in all schools to keep going. Can they? Will they? In deprived areas too?
I do not know the best model but do know that if the number of concessions is reduced, a whole load of single working mothers as well as single non working but other stuff going on mothers will be fucked. Lone fathers too, of course, but they don't get peoples heckles up quite so much when discussing entitlement or access to things....
Monday morning my son's childcare has been outsourced - to me!
I don't know what we will do but it's London. There's the science or history museums, Tate or National or Portrait galleries, all free if it's raining. There's the heath where I shall spend endless hours being goalie. There are other things going on that you have to pay for. Very little is cheap.
Affordable childcare. The bane of many a parents' life.
(Unless they are a banker in which case they have scooped up some of £14bn in bonuses in this last financial year - £2bn more than in 2008/2009 according to the Mirror. "More than 323 staff at state-run Royal Bank of Scotland shared a pay and bonus pot of £375 million - an average of 1.16million each." (20/7/11p.14) Gosh, one could take ones nanny on holiday with them with that kind of cash....how kind the government to cut their tax and cut your services.... I don't know what more I can say...)