Wednesday 21 March saw the launch of ‘Single Parent Day’ in the House of Commons, mirroring the US Single Parent Day that has existed since 1984. This inaugural event of the recently formed All Party Parliamentary Group for Single Parent Families was attended by almost 40 MPs from 4 different parties who pledged to identify the challenges faced by single parents in the UK.
Originally launched by Ronald Regan in the United States, Single Parent Day marks the start of a campaign by MPs to raise the profile of single parent families in UK politics and policymaking amongst politicians recognise the unique difficulties faced by single parents across the UK and the globe. Whilst APPGs exist on subjects from curry to cats, this is the first to focus on single parent families and includes politicians who themselves are single parents, were raised in single-parent families, or simply take an interest in the issue given the prevalence of single-parent families in the UK.
The day saw findings from Gingerbread, who recently marked 50 years of advocacy supporting single-parent families, released for each of the 650 Parliamentary constituencies showing that in some seats single parent families account for over 50% of families. Veteran newshound Robert Peston movingly described his experiences a single parent after the death of his wife. Representatives from the Centre for Social Justice think-tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation anti-poverty charity and Gingerbread itself also presented findings. The group also received a message via video from US Congresswoman Gwen Moore on her trajectory as a single parent of three across the Atlantic.
Group chair Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq said: “Single parents face such significant barriers in employment and education. Research has shown time and time again that they suffer disproportionately from changes to welfare legislation. It’s long overdue that government and politics fully considers the needs of single parents when drafting legislation. They are no longer a marginal family form so I look forward to working with colleagues across all parties to ensure that single parents are properly considered in our work in Westminster”.
Conservative MP Paul Masterton said “Strong families, in all their wonderful varieties, are essential for social mobility, and evidence shows supportive and nurturing family relationships boost outcomes. It’s therefore absolutely vital that Government considers the specific issues facing single parent families across the UK when policy making, to ensure that both parent and child are able to fulfil their potential.”
Labour MP for Gower and group treasurer, Tonia Antoniazzi said: “I’m so pleased to be a founding member of this group. As a single parent, I know all about the challenges of balancing work and family, especially as since being elected I have to spend some of my time in London. There is still a perceived stigma around being a single parent, and the group will be looking at how we can break down these barriers and ensure that single parent families are afforded all the opportunities available to them.”
The slogan of the day fittingly was “I’m standing up for Single Parents – because every family counts”.