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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Emma B BS: No longer Great Britain? (220* d) RE: BS: No longer Great Britain? 13 Aug 10


So, another 'guest' appears from nowhere without any obvious musical interest or contribution - indeed any other contribution of any kind - to comment on the 'abuse' of benefits by single parents/scroungers?

Under the circumstances I make no apologies for quoting this personal account from the 'netmums' website

A personal account by Karen Lewis

"When netmums first suggested I write something for the website I thought 'no problem' however there is nothing quite as daunting as a blank piece of paper. Since then I have alternated between writing nothing much at all and then gabbling on for page upon page and so I have enlisted the help of Cathy at Netmums to rein me in and chop out all of the waffle.

I recently picked up the book "Acid Row" by Minette Walters in a bookshop and the synopsis on the back of the book read:

'Acid Row. The name the beleaguered inhabitants give to the place they live. A no-man's-land of single mothers and fatherless children where angry, alienated teenagers control the streets.'

It is difficult to believe that people still think of all single Mums in this way but then I find it staggering that there are people who can't see beyond the colour of a person's skin.

I am 36 years old and I have been a single mum since I was 18. In the 1920s I would have been sent away or locked up somewhere for being an unmarried mum and my baby would have been taken away. At times it is difficult to believe that we have come very far from those days.

You would be hard pushed to find a woman who intentionally became a single mum. There was a time when it was generally believed that young girls got themselves pregnant in order get a Council House; well, my eldest son was born in 1986 and he was 13 before I was allocated a Housing Association property. Nowadays single mums are seen as lazy benefit scroungers, but with the exception of 3 years (1996 to 1999) when I claimed Income Support, I have always worked full time.

What is true about single mums is that we are all very, very different, we all work hard and battle constantly to stay afloat and not one of us chooses to claim benefits, live on the breadline or fit Minette Walters' description.

Life and experience shape us all and not everyone grows up to be the confident, assertive or inherently cheerful person that we would all love to be. Each of us has our own weaknesses and we all learn from experience. During the past 18 years I have suffered at the hands of one extremely violent partner and another violent and manipulative partner, I have lived at home with my son, with a partner and my son and now alone with my sons. I have suffered terrible postnatal depression which left me hospitalised following several suicide attempts and I have been in the position where the electric has run out, it is a Saturday night and I have just 2p in my purse until Monday morning. It has been something of a journey and I wouldn't want to have to do it again, but I have learnt, I have lived through it and I have survived. I am not a victim, I am just me and I happen to be a single mum.

When my eldest son was born I worked full-time at Hammersmith Hospital as a Medical Secretary, the pay wasn't great and the childminding fees were crippling, but I did it. Having lived through all of the things that I have described I am now a Senior PA, earning a darn good salary, paying my own rent and bills, still struggling with the childminding fees but I am doing it. Sure there are times when I feel lonely, times when I feel beyond exhausted and times when I feel extremely stressed, but the one thing that all of us single mums have is our kids.

My eldest son is now 16 (17 in March) and a huge, strapping great lad with a soft heart and a delightful personality. He is my good friend and I almost burst with pride over him at times. My youngest son is 5 and he is my angel. He got me through the dark days of my depression and he is a joy to both my eldest son and me. We are not the ideal TV, picture perfect family, I still scream, shout and nag at them. Like anyone else the state of my eldest son's bedroom drives me insane as do the biscuit and sweet wrappers, the dirty cups and crockery and Jake seems hell-bent on making it as difficult as possible to get out of the house in the mornings. They don't get 200 worth of Christmas presents from me but they don't go without and I think they benefit from it. They are spoilt in other ways and I wouldn't change them or be without them for all the riches in the world.

So, if you are a new single mum hold your head up, ignore every negative newspaper article or comment and get on with it. OK, so we aren't as free as single people to just decide what we want and go out and get it, it takes us a bit longer and it is always going to be that bit more difficult, but it's not impossible. It is also not impossible to simply enjoy being a single mum. Any single mum who lives on Income Support has my total admiration, they are resourceful, strong, inventive and determined, all characteristics that deserve respect"


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