This article is from Vivacious Mum. Vivacious Mum is a member of the Diary of a Single Mom Bloggers Network. Real women. Real mothers. Real life.
Describe yourself in a 5 words…
Spirited. Progressive. Creative. Mother. Feminist.
What inspires you?
Single parents improving their lives, their children’s lives and the lives of their communities. I see so many single parents doing this which is why I’m always inspired.
I’m good at…
Taking an overview. Multi-tasking. Coordinating people’s strengths in collective action. Creating spaces to give more marginalized communities a voice. Putting in funding bids that incorporate all of the latter.
I’m bad at…
Holding back. Keeping quiet. Letting go.
What are the highlights of your career thus far?
Obtaining the support of the Third European Poverty Programme to set up the Single Parent Action Network. Not only did we get to do exchanges with single parents across England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland, but we got to travel to many other countries in the EU. We learnt so much, and that spirit has stayed with the organisation ever since.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
- Supporting the development of SPAN’s move to Junction 3, that includes an exciting new space for single parent families.
- Maximising SPAN’s virtual space for single parents on SPAN’s One Space website www.onespace.org.uk.
- Collaborating with others, including women’s organisations, for a more equal society – working to prevent the further impoverishment of one parent families in these present times.
- On a personal level, setting up a website with a friend – Café Society – out of the kitchen into the café, changing society and eating cake.
How did you get started with Single Parent Action Network?
In 1990 I was working for a grassroots group of single parents from different ethnic cultures and backgrounds in Bristol. We wanted to develop a national network of self-help groups to improve the lives of one parent families living in poverty. I was successful in getting funding.
How did the name Single Parent Action Network come about?
Because of wanting to do what it says on the tin – and the acronym SPAN was so good. Or so I thought – a week after coming up with the name I discovered a problem. It can sound like SPAM over the phone.
How did you develop the concept for Single Parent Action Network?
One parent families were experiencing terrible discrimination and poverty. We wanted to develop a national network that would strengthen families during those awful times. I was asked to draw a tree by the Advisory Group to explain how SPAN might develop. I still have a copy. The roots were the strength, passion and intellect of our single parent members. The trunk represented our network across the country – our strength in the storm. And from the network would grow branches – involving single parents in poverty, multi-racial structures, fighting discrimination, setting up new self-help groups, campaigning on policy.
What has been the most exciting collaboration you’ve worked on?
I’ve worked on so many – coordinating the European Network of One Parent Families for example; working with others to set up the European Anti-Poverty Network and the UK Coalition Against Poverty. But SPAN’s partnership with the high profile Save Lone Parent Benefit Campaign in Westminster in 1997 was perhaps the most exciting concentrated collaboration – it became a turning point in the way single parents were treated in
Do you have any advice for young women wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Follow your passion. Get involved in local grassroots groups or help to develop a self-help group in the process. Study history or for a social science degree, and do a dissertation on themes that intrigue and inspire you. Draw on knowledge that combines the personal with the political, the body with the mind, the private with the public, the home with work, grassroots to government.
What are your top tips for single parents?
- Develop good social networks for yourself and your children – volunteering can be a good way in.
- However low you feel life will always get better.
- Remind yourself that 75% of children will spend time in a family that is different from the traditional nuclear family.
- If you escaped a violent relationship you’ve done the very best for yourself and your children. Always be proud of that.
- Nurture your mind, body and soul.
In a nutshell, your philosophy is…
Keep on jumping. You may need to change the spot you are jumping on if you are not getting anywhere, but keep on jumping.