Alliance lists 10 measures to protect lone parents from pandemic's 'disproportionate' impact

Alliance lists 10 measures to protect lone parents from pandemic's 'disproportionate' impact

One Family director, Karen Kiernan, said: “When you are parenting alone, you are the primary caregiver and breadwinner for the family; the pressure is all on you." File photo.

A newly established National One Parent Family Alliance (NOPFA) has written to three Government Ministers asking for urgent measures to protect lone parents and their children from being "disproportionately" impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new group, made up of organisations including Barnardos, Focus Ireland, FLAC, the Children's Rights Alliance and others, welcomed some existing measures introduced by government but said more would be needed because of the heightened risk of poverty and deprivation.

It has written to the Minister for Social Protection, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, with a list of 10 proposals, including making a double payment of the Fuel Allowance (€56) for two weeks at the end of January/beginning of February, and establishing a discretionary utility fund of €5m to provide assistance to individuals and households struggling with Covid-19 related heating and electricity costs.

It has welcomed the confirmation from the Minister for Social Protection that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is available to parents who cannot work due to childcare issues and school closures, but Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family and chair of the NOPFA said: “Parents are finding this lockdown incredibly hard. When you are parenting alone, you are the primary caregiver and breadwinner for the family; the pressure is all on you. 

With the schools closed, it makes all the inequalities, all the struggles, and all the difficulties much, much worse. 

"Government should do the right thing and do all they can to support people parenting alone through this next difficult period.” 

Louise Bayliss, Co-founder of Single Parents Acting for the Rights of our Kids (SPARK) added: “We know from our networks of lone parents who are working or in education that they now have less leave, less savings and sometimes less goodwill and support to help them through this current lockdown. 

"It is important to maintain lone parents in employment and education, if at all possible, and this should be a policy priority for Government.”

Meanwhile, Barnardos has extended its Post Adoption Service helpline opening hours to meet the needs of those impacted by the Mother & Baby Homes Report.

Over the last two weeks, more than 150 birth mothers and birth family members, adopted adults and adults raised in institutional care, have contacted Barnardos Post Adoption Service, available at (01) 454 6388 and open Monday - Friday, 9.30am - 4.30pm.

Christine Hennessy, Barnardos Post Adoption Service Leader, said: “Since the final report was launched on January 12, just two weeks ago, we have seen an outpouring of anger, hurt and grief across the country. 

"In many ways, while this report was welcome, it can be triggering for birthmothers, birthfathers and adult adopted people who have had experience with the system. It was a dark period in Irish history that is still causing a ripple effect across the country today, and many are in need of support when faced with it."

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