Seeking flexible work

Caroline Thom is one of many women seeking flexible new jobs to help balance work and childcare. She spoke to

Caroline Thom took four years out after having her son and is now looking to get back into work. As a single mum, she is having problems finding the kind of flexible work that she needs to work around her son's school hours.

He just started school in September and she is looking for up to 16 hours a week. She says she had some bar work for a month over the summer and it really made a difference to the family financially.

Caroline, who lives in Stockport, was a full-time travel consultant before she took maternity leave. “I didn't go back as I wanted to be around for my son,” she says.

She says her son starting school was “a complete shock to the system”. She does some voluntary work in a charity shop to keep her hand in and to feel useful and she is also doing a part-time Open University course over the next few years so that she can get a better job eventually. The course counts towards a full degree in IT and computing. “It also helps me to feel good about myself,” she says.

Ideally she'd like to work from home doing “something serious that is not just monotonous like envelope stuffing”, but there is nothing around.

She says she feels that the system for encouraging single parents to find work is “a bit patronising”. “You are treated a bit like a school kid again. I am actively seeking a job myself. Why should I have to show evidence that I am not lying?” she asks.

She would like to see employers thinking more about benefiting from the skills mums have by advertising more flexible jobs. She says: “There have been a few jobs I have asked about and they say you have to be available at any moment to do more hours. It's hard to find childcare just like that, but you should not be unemployable because you have responsibility for a child. You shouldn't be discriminated against. I bend over backwards getting babysitters, but the flexibility has to work both ways.”

* is holding its first LIVE event in Manchester at the Lowry Hotel on 8th November. It's a one-stop shop for everything to do with work life balance, including how to find a flexible job and how to set up your own business or franchise. There are free workshops and CV sessions and the chance to talk to a host of employers offering flexible work. Find out more here.

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