Proud single parents

Parenting can be both the most challenging and yet the most rewarding of jobs. However, the challenges are often accentuated for single parents who are more likely to be affected by isolation, poor housing, poverty and health issues, as well as facing judgemental attitudes and stigma.

One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) has launched a social media campaign #ProudSingleParents to challenge some of the negative myths about single parents and to celebrate the great work they do despite obstacles in accessing childcare, sustainable employment and decent housing. Most of these issues also affect couple families; resolving the barriers facing single parents would have a positive impact for all parents.

The aim of the campaign is to celebrate the diversity and achievements of single parents while challenging the stereotypes and stigma which they often experience. 61% of single parents surveyed by OPFS stated that they had experienced stigma within the last year.

Satwat Rehman, director of OPFS said:

'We hope that by highlighting the continuing distortions of the debate about single parenthood we'll also be contributing to a more sensible conversation on the issues of poverty, welfare reform and the shape of families in the 21st century.  Our research shows parents still feel stigmatised and stereotyped today, portrayed alternately as 'scroungers' or bad parents responsible for 'broken families'. These debates distort public perceptions of who single parents really are.'

For example, an Ipsos MORI poll showed that the public thought that out of every 100 people in Britain 28 were single parents while the actual figure is 3%1.

Public estimates of how many single parents are teenagers are also wildly out of line with reality - in fact, only 2% of single parents are teenagers.

Many people think very few single parents work - the real figure is 64%. Single parents are upset about the way they're portrayed - focusing solely on non-working parents distracts attention from the fact that a third of working single parents are still poor.

There are many ways individuals and organisations can participate. For example:

  • use the #ProudSingleParents hashtag to promote services you provide to support single parents
  • make a pledge for something your organisation could do to become even more single parent friendly
  • write a staff blog
  • share positive messages acknowledging the amazing job that single parents are doing
  • support a single parent to write a blog - here is an example OPFS guest blog 

Glasgow Life is supporting our campaign by inviting its staff to join a working group to make plans to become a more 'single-parent friendly' employer and will be showcasing the campaign in city libraries. The Wheatley Group are supporting single mum, Gina, who is a Glasgow Housing Association tenant, to tell her story. Her blog will be shared, along with key messages busting the myths of single parents, via Wheatley newsletters and workplace computer screens which will be viewed by staff and the public.

#ProudSingleParents is supported by NHS Health Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Glasgow City Council, and the Wheatley Group.

Follow @opfs on Twitter, and like on Facebook to keep up to date with the campaign and for lots of OPFS information.

1. Source: RSS/Ipsos MORI 2013; Census 2011, NOMIS; 2011 Census, Population and Household Estimates for England and Wales (July 2012) ONS; Families and Households, 2012 (November 2012) ONS. Base: 1,015 British adults aged 16-75