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Supporting Single parents in the Corona Virus with SAKs....

This crisis is impacting us all and I'm one of the lucky ones: none of my family or friends have (yet) been ill with the virus, I've a garden and space in the home and my family are in regular contact via Face time & Zoom. Financially though, my world is looking vastly different and this week my single parent status came into sharp focus. I know that I am not alone, with 1.8 million single parents in the UK, singlehandedly juggling the practicalities of school and work 24/7, as well as the potential long term financial and mental impact of the virus. Last August, I resigned from my career of 20 years and relocated city to set up as a consultant. I wanted more time with my 8 year old, which my management role, with its weekly overseas travel, long working hours and daily commute, made impossible. Having started to build up work as a consultant, in March I saw it all understandably halt and whilst I'm buffered for a short while, I've only a few months before rental payments become an impossibility. As a one adult household there are simply less levers to pull when looking at solutions. The day to day impact of the crisis also looms large for many single parents: juggling food shops with a child in tow, the creeping concern of what happens to your child if you do get sick, not to mention those single parents whose jobs don't allow them to work from home, (including front line workers) and for whom there is no clear government provision. However, as I have discovered, there is support out there, and whilst online searches provide knowledge on financial support, the small acts of kindness from friends managing their own lockdown challenges, has had a hugely positive impact on me, fundamentally changing our experience of lock down. Whilst instigating my own book club, quiz or calls have all been of benefit to me, the sense of community created by these simple acts of kindness (SAKs!!) has been wonderful. So, if you know one of the 1.8 million single parents (90% of them women), navigating their way through lockdown, and you're able carve out some time, I'd encourage you to dish out one of the SAKs below that have helped to lighten my load (recipients not limited to single parents only!!)

1) Teach and swap a class a week via Zoom for their child/ren - this is the single biggest gift any one can give single parent right now (thank you Harriet & Matt). 2 work focused hours and a change in teacher for the child too! (probably not advisable if you've 4 children of your own in different school years!)

2) If you're in a position (literally and figuratively) to do so, offer to do a weekly shop and drop it on their doorstep for them - it saves the stress of them taking a young child to the supermarket

3) If the child is legally old enough, do a Zoom call to keep them company and offer the parent an hour's work or exercise alone - it might be their only child free hour that week

4) Send a card (or even a Touchnote Postcard - no need to use a post office) - it brings a little bit of family into the house & reminds them they're not alone

5) Set up wine and chat in the evening, and share your own challenges and experiences too. Single parents are used to being house bound in the evenings but often miss hearing about another adult's daily life experiences or sharing their own: The adage ' a problem shared is a problem halved', has never rung more true right now

6) and from Eliza: Make your bed so your parents don't have to!!

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Charlotte Durrant
Charlotte Durrant
May 01, 2020

Charlotte - you're amazing and you write brilliantly! I'd love a call and a catch up at some point. Cx

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