Clare runs our West Midlands local Fawcett group and is Interim Executive Operations Officer at Black Country YMCA. She lives in Wolverhampton with her family and also set up a small charity tackling period poverty in the area. In this blog Clare shares how the outbreak has impacted her family and tells us she’d like to see action from the Combined Authority to support women-owned businesses and domestic abuse services. 

Lockdown has come with many challenges. My wife and I are both working from home and we’ve been managing trying to find a quiet space to work with our three kids around. We’ve also been juggling work and supporting our 12-year-old with home schooling. Our 16-year-old was due to sit his GCSEs and has found the limbo of waiting for results and applying for different sixth forms tough. At the start we were worried about our eldest son who was furloughed from work and started to feel pretty low. He is now back at work and doing much better. I think it's been a really hard time for children and young people, so a lot of our focus has been on being there to emotionally support our children.

There have also been additional pressures at work, trying to get on top of the Government guidance around furloughing staff and how the services we run can eventually reopen safely. Unfortunately, we’ve also had to start the redundancy process for roles we cannot maintain.

I think a lot of parents and mums in the West Midlands are very worried about childcare. A lack of childcare moving forward will mean that some women can’t return to work and will inevitably lose income, possibly putting back years of progress for many women and the women’s rights agenda. I would like to see action from the Combined Authority to ensure that we don't lose independent businesses from our high streets, town centres and communities, particularly those that are owned by women.

I’m also worried about domestic abuse increasing during the outbreak. In the West Midlands there were more than 4,000 cases in the first month of lockdown and only 3% of the perpetrators were charged. Meanwhile charities supporting women and families are under additional financial pressure. I'd like to know what further support may be available regionally to ensure these services not only survive, but are able to expand their services so that every victim who reaches out gets the help they need.

In Wolverhampton we've also seen an increase in period poverty as household incomes have reduced or access to period products has become more difficult due to school closures or households shielding. My charity has been busier than ever delivering period products to partner organisations and to individuals.

On a personal level, I am lucky because lockdown has given me the time to step back and provided space for reflection. I have used the time to introduce many good habits including daily journaling, meditation and exercise. It's been refreshing to be less busy and spend more time at home with family. On the whole, whilst it has presented challenges, lockdown has been a positive experience for me.