Welsh social enterprise looks to support single parents on World Mental Health Day

A social enterprise run by single parents for single parent families in Wales has launched a new policy on World Mental Health Day as a result of the mental health struggles they are facing due to COVID-19.

Single Parents Wellbeing, set up by single parents Rachel Cule, Amy Holland and Jackie Fisher, has launched its ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’ policy as a result of the feedback from working single parents, who struggled with the impact of the pandemic.

Single-parent families were amongst the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as they struggled to cope with the financial and practical repercussions of measures to tackle the spread of the virus and many organisations, including Single Parents Wellbeing, noticed the inevitable strain on the wellbeing of its staff.

While the majority of the two million single parents cross the UK are in work (70%), school closures meant many of those relying on lower paid incomes or zero-hour contracts were unable to commit at all and for those who could work from home, looking after their children single-handedly provided its challenges.

During January 2021, Oxford University’s Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics (Co-SPACE) study published data from over 6,000 UK parents highlighting that parental stress, depression, and anxiety increased substantially alongside the announcement of new national restrictions. Specifically including feeling they were spread too thin by meeting the demands of their children’s needs, home-schooling, housework and most prominently, work commitments.

Single Parent Wellbeing is now calling on employers across Wales to consider the circumstances of single parents and ensure they are able to work flexibly even when faced with exceptional circumstances. The “Mental Health in the Workplace” policy focuses on actively promoting positive mental health in the organisation which it is hoped other companies will follow.

Through the development of the policy, the social enterprise aims to tackle the causes of stress in the workplace by promoting a culture of compassion, empathy, and positive regard.

As part of the programme, managers and staff will receive mental health awareness training and ‘Wellbeing Peers’ will be nominated and available for people to talk to confidentially about their struggles.

There will also be a guidance pack that will provide useful advice and signpost staff and volunteers to useful organisations. Single Parents Wellbeing has also adopted a flexible working policy that supports single parents to work from home or adjust their hours to coordinate childcare.

Julie Morgan, the Member of the Senedd for Cardiff North, is a patron of Single Parents Wellbeing. She said: “Single Parents Wellbeing staff and volunteers have done a wonderful job during COVID to provide invaluable mental health support to single parent families. I know from constituents who got in touch with me during lockdown that this was a difficult period for so many people including single parents. I think this initiative, which aims to help companies educate their staff on how we can all look after each other during these unprecedented circumstances, is a great idea.”

Co-founder Rachel Cule, says: “Mental health has affected our staff and our single parents in our community group during the pandemic. We want to be a pioneer in developing a robust policy supporting all staff through any mental health difficulties.”