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#ProudSingleParents

#ProudSingleParents

Nicola is a mum who lives with daughter in Falkirk. In this blog she describes how OPFS has helped her flourish through the OPFS Falkirk Family house service.

My story

I am 29 years old and became a single parent to one daughter in 2015 after a breakdown in my relationship with her dad. My daughter was 3 months old at the time. Before I became a parent, I worked for the local authority as a Social Care worker based in a care home for elderly people with mental health problems. I went back to work for a short time when my daughter was 9 months old but, due to an erratic shift pattern, I couldn’t continue with this.

People can be lonely even in a crowd

I think for me the most difficult thing was the feeling of losing my identity. Although becoming a parent is the best feeling in the world it can also become a very lonely place. People think you can’t feel alone when you are looking after someone 24/7, however, this is not always the case as people can be lonely even in a crowd. The feeling of loneliness can come from many different places, such as, feeling the financial burden, parenting alone and becoming distant from friends. I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a single parent! Going from being in a position of having spare money at the end of each month and being able to socialise with friends at any time to sometimes scraping by week to week and friends having to try and fit around my daughter and I. Many people don’t understand your change in circumstances.

When I first used the service, it was for childcare for my daughter who was 2 years old at the time, I was welcomed and felt comfortable after only a short time and introduced to other services available to parents. There were so many, and my first thought was “well I definitely don’t need any of this input because I’m fine”.

I was never admitting to anyone that, although I loved my daughter more than anything, I didn’t like the situation I was in. There would be days where I felt like I was literally drowning for various reasons but the main reason was I didn’t know anyone who was in a similar situation and I genuinely felt like I was the only person on the planet to have a failed marriage and become a single parent.

I am a completely different person

OPFS always invited me to groups but I didn’t attend anything for a good few months. One morning I dropped my daughter at nursery and was again invited to attend the craft group running that morning. I would’ve done everything to just run out the door and avoid it, I’m sure I said I need to wash my hair! The Manager suggested I go in and meet some of the people who were there, so I did. I’ve been a regular attendee since that day. I never shared my story with anyone for a long time but hearing of other people’s struggles made me finally realise I wasn’t alone! The craft group was just the start and up to now at the centre we have a cooking group, gardening group and various other sessions that run offering help with parenting. Now almost 18 months down the line I am a completely different person. My confidence and self-belief have soared. I approached OPFS just before Christmas with an idea about running a ‘Job Club’. I was nervous about whether I would be capable of facilitating the club alongside another member of staff, but I love it. I feel great helping others who are in a similar situation. I feel passionate about helping other parents (and myself) find direction again.

Obstacles to finding work

It is so difficult to explain to people what the obstacles can be in finding work as a single parent with childcare being the biggest factor. The stigma attached to being a single parent out of work is really bad. In so many circumstances you literally cannot attend work. I wanted to change this. Although it won’t change overnight I’m confident we can make changes that support parents to get back to work and make it affordable and encourage companies to think more about the possibility of working within school hours thus cutting out the cost of childcare which so many families in general struggle to afford. I recently applied and got an offer to begin a college course due to start in August. I know that had I not been encouraged/supported by the staff in the OPFS Falkirk Family Centre I wouldn’t be in the place I am now. I will be forever grateful to each and every one of the staff and will never be able to thank them enough for literally pulling me from quite a dark place and setting me up to run into everything I can achieve.

#ProudSingleParents

It’s amazing watching my daughter grow, learn and love. It has led me on a journey to much greater things. I get to be with my girl through all our triumphs and challenges and know I’ve shaped and helped her every step of the way. It’s shown me how strong and resilient I really am.

Tough times always get better

If I could share anything with any other single parents, it would be this: the tough times always get better. Be brave, get into any groups available in your area because you are most definitely not done even if it really feels you are. OPFS will do their very best to support you! Don’t take on other people’s negative judgement. When you feel like your best might not be good enough, remember – to the world you are just one person but to your children you are the world.

I was so quiet and shy until I found ‘me’ again at OPFS. I attend all the groups, run the Job Club and have recently applied to become a Volunteer.

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How OPFS has supported me

How OPFS has supported me

Shanan is a mum to a three-year-old son. She works part-time and lives in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire. In this blog, she describes the ways OPFS has supported her as a single parent.

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OPFS celebrates 20 years of delivering Flexible Childcare Services

OPFS celebrates 20 years of delivering Flexible Childcare Services

Twenty years ago, in the city of Dundee a little acorn was planted when One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) were officially registered to provide a flexible, home based, childcare service for the very first time. This was the first time any local authority had established a separate category for home based childcare services and, when it started, the only one in Scotland.

The service was officially opened by Councillor Helen Wright who came along on the first day of operations, 5th March 1999, to meet staff and the first family to use the service.

(more…)

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Transforming Lives in Lanarkshire

Transforming Lives in Lanarkshire

The Transforming Lives programme, funded by Agnes Hunters Trust, is now in it’s third week where the focus was on self-awareness. Participants created a mandala art piece which contain familiar images that has a meaning for the who is creating it. These mandalas represent the connection between our inner and outer world and designing a mandala can be both inspirational and therapeutic.

Course takes place on Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s 10.00am – 2.30pm each week in YMCA, Liberty Road, Bellshill ML4 2EU.

For more information, call / text Marianne on 07789651300 or email

marianne.aitken@opfs.org.uk

 

 

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Single Parents Are Under Pressure

Single Parents Are Under Pressure

Three-quarters of single parent families are now living below the publicly accepted ‘Minimum Income Standard’ according to new research by Loughborough University. What are the key factors that cause most single parent families from reaching an adequate income?

Despite the fact that six in ten lone parents now work, most of the new jobs have been part time, and those working part-time have become more likely to have inadequate incomes. (more…)

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OPFS responds to new research on adverse childhood experiences

OPFS responds to new research on adverse childhood experiences

One in ten Scots children experience multiple traumatic life events such as parental separation, bereavement or neglect says Edinburgh study.

Research launched today, by the University of Edinburgh, looks at the occurrence of seven types of adverse childhood experiences (ACE’S) which are linked with a range of poorer health and social outcomes throughout a person’s life. (more…)

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Scottish Government tour Dundee Flexible Childcare Services

Scottish Government tour Dundee Flexible Childcare Services

Flexible, affordable, accessible and high quality early learning and childcare. Is it possible? Can it work?

Our Dundee and Aberdeenshire flexible childcare services (FCSS) are living, breathing, caring, playing and learning proof that yes, it is totally possible to provide truly flexible, tailored care solutions that meet the needs of children, families, the community and the early learning and childcare workforce.

Last week we were delighted to have the opportunity to share our story, our future plans and of course show our service to Scottish Government’s Director of Early Learning and Childcare, Joe Griffin, and Team Leader, ELC Workforce, Kathryn Chisholm.

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Christmas Party for children in Aberdeenshire

Christmas Party for children in Aberdeenshire

In addition to the home-based childcare and mobile creche the Flexible Childcare Service in Aberdeenshire regularly provides support to children with additional support needs. A highlight each year for the children is the Christmas party held at The Tufted Duck Hotel in Fraserburgh. Last year was no exception.

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New Mental Health & Wellbeing Service from OPFS

New Mental Health & Wellbeing Service from OPFS

In line with our mission, OPFS is delighted to launch our new Mental Health & Wellbeing Service. Funding for this service comes from a successful application to the UK Government’s Tampon Tax Fund. The aim of the service is to offer a free support and counselling service for those most in need to enable them to better manage their mental health and minimise the impact on their well-being. This service will be accessed on-line, face to face and in a group setting.
(more…)

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Highland childcare charity saved from threat of closure

Highland childcare charity saved from threat of closure

One Parent Families Scotland supporting Highland childcare service to continue

Direct Childcare, an innovative service covering the Highlands and Moray that provides safe, professional childcare was due to close at the end of last year due to financial constraints. It has since entered a rescue package with One Parent Families Scotland’s (OPFS) Flexible Childcare Service (FCS) allowing it to continue to provide care services and secure jobs as they jointly work on a long-term viability plan with backing of partners.

(more…)

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