Big Lottery Fund help for single parents

The Big Lottery Fund has announced £7m of funding to help some of Scotland's poorest single parents back into work.

The money will allow lone parents to receive training to help them back into the labour market, including balancing work and child care responsibilities.

It is estimated there are more than 170,000 lone parents in Scotland, looking after almost 300,000 children.

Half of these live in income poverty, the Big Lottery said.

It said increased competition for each job vacancy, coupled with the difficulty and expense of finding suitable childcare, means many lone parents struggle to obtain jobs and keep them.

The Making it Work scheme will offer lone parents with a child under five the chance to improve their skills and overcome the obstacles preventing them getting work.

Key to this, during a 35-week programme, tailored to each individual, is to learn how to work and also look after children.

These are so-called "soft skills" many lone parents may never have had.

Amanda Murray-McIlvride, 24, has been out of work for two years since becoming ill during her pregnancy.

Her baby, Arihanna was born three and a half months prematurely, and Amanda suffered serious post natal depression.

Good career

She said the pilot programme, "Making a Difference" at Rosemount Lifelong Learning in Royston, Glasgow, had been useful.

"It's helped me get into more of a routine with my daughter; helped me get out of the house and has prepared me if I want to go back to further education or get a good career," she said.

"Especially having kids, that's where it's hardest; just trying to fit everything in to your basic day."

The director of Big Lottery Scotland, Jackie Killeen, said the scheme puts the needs of the family at the centre of services provided.

"The jobs market is extremely challenging at the moment, but we know that groups like lone parents are perhaps doubly disadvantaged," she said.

"We want to make sure they have as good a chance as anybody else of having a good opportunity to access a job in the future - not just for themselves but because of the importance of being able to work for the whole family; for their children as well."

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