Last week I joined over one hundred women, men and even some children primarily encompassing MPs, academics, think-tanks, charities and the media all of whom were gathered in Parliament in the Speaker’s House to celebrate Day of the Single Parent Family.
The annual day began in the United States in 1984. The event is expected to be the flagship meeting of the newly established All Party Parliamentary Group for Single Parent Families whose slogan is “I’m standing up for Single Parent Families because every family counts.”
In Delyn there are over 2,157 single parent families, which is 26% of all families.
Those attending were addressed by the Gingerbread charity, the BBC’s Adrian Chiles, one-time East Ender Michelle Collins (aka Cindy) and were treated to a mini routine from comedienne Shappi Khorsandi. Collins movingly spoke of her own experiences growing up in a single parent family. Fraternal greetings via video message from US Congresswoman Gwen Moore were also aired. Common themes among the speakers were the stigma surrounding single parent families and how this significant category is often overlooked by legislators. David Hanson MP pledged to take action to ensure the changes that are desperately needed are made sooner rather than later.
Ann Etchells of Gingerbread, single mum of a disabled child, stressed how single parents face unique challenges while Chiles reminded the room that single dads exist too telling them “It’s all around us, it’s extremely common and there’s a million daily miracles happening all around us.”
Guests enjoyed a range of refreshments in the magnificent surroundings courtesy of the clothing firm River Island which is based in Huq’s Ealing seat and carries out important awareness work on how family forms in the twenty-first century are multiple and changing with their “this is family” campaign.
It is clear that the lack of genuine recognition and appropriate support for single parent families is a critical and increasingly important issue. It needs urgent cross- party action. I’ll be working to make sure their voices are heard in Parliament until the appropriate changes are underway.
It was great to meet so many incredible single parents and hear from them not only on their own experiences, but on how critical it is changes are made. As politicians we can see in our own workplace where the system is failing – we must do much better.