Global Day of Parents is observed around the world annually on the 1st June. In this blog Safyan Rahman an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Project Officer here at King’s and Natasha Awais-Dean, co-chair of NEST our parents and carers network, reflect on out commitment to ensuring parents can flourish in all areas of their lives.
In 2012, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly declared the first-ever Global Day of Parents. Held annually on 1 June, the day was created as an opportunity to honour families around the world, in all their diversity. It recognises that although single parent families, same sex parents, mixed race families and families from various cultures, countries and ethnicities experience unique challenges, they ultimately share the universal experience of being a family. It particularly recognises the universal challenges all parents face in as they nurture and protect children within a family environment.
In the 1980’s the UN began to focus more on issues related to the family, based on the growing belief that the conditions in which a child is raised in their family branches out into other spheres of global development. This paved the way for resolutions such as marking 1994 as the International Year of Family and declaring 15 May to be annually observed as the International Day of Families. This increased appreciation for the experiences of families across the world set a precedent for the Global Day of Parents.
This day has provided a day of reflection for workforces in all sectors to consider how meaningfully they understand the challenges faced by staff members who are parents and carers, and how effectively they plan to support them. Organisations such as UNICEF and UN Women have acknowledged the importance of introducing family-friendly workplace policies and practices, and how this puts companies and institutions in a stronger position to provide systematic support to employees, particularly those who are parents and/or carers.
King’s has been one of the many institutions to take part in this global conversation and actively reflect on ways in we can support parents and carers through the challenges they face in the workplace, particularly in the context of the pandemic. More recently, many families have experienced considerable challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have parents had to home school their children, potentially shield their children and care for other members of their family, but they have had to do so while managing their mental health and continuing their work responsibilities. We are proud that our senior leaders took a strong ‘family-first’ stance early in the pandemic, strongly championed at senior levels of the College by NEST (the Network to Engage, Support & bring Together Parents and Carers) We know that this approach meant so much to those who found their home and work lives colliding in an instant. As an institution, we understand the challenges of being a working parent and so we have a wide range of resources and means of support for staff to access:
- The Parents’ & Carers’ Hub provides staff and managers with easy-to-access information about the support and benefits available to parents and carers. From our ‘Shared Parental Leave & Pay’ policy to our ‘Childcare’ policy this page covers a wide breadth of the internal support we have put in place for parents and carers across the organisation. Further support on flexible working can also be found.
- The Carers’ Career Development Fund is a scheme designed to help parents and carers with additional costs associated with work events that fall out of normal working hours (such as conferences and networking events).
- Consider joining NEST (the Network to Engage, Support & bring Together Parents and Carers). As with all of our staff networks, which aim to provide a sense of community for all staff by connecting them with Colleagues with similar lived experiences, NEST is for all those with parenting or caring responsibilities. The network holds a range of events, offers a thriving online community through which you can connect with colleagues across the organisation, and can offer guidance and representation at strategic and policy level.
- If you work, or are interested in working, flexibly, then you may be interested in the Flexible Working Group at King’s. FWG has been campaigning over the last few years to support flexible working for all, including playing a key part in the College’s Athena Swan Silver Award submission. You may have contributed at the start of 2020 to our Flexible Working Survey, the results from which have been useful in advocating for better understanding of flexible working. Members of the FWG have more recently come together to create resources and guidance to support you in this area. Please take a look at the Flexible Working SharePoint site, which includes lots of information, useful links, case studies and some handy hints and tips. If you have any ideas for content or notice something is missing, please let the group know. This is a living resource, which will be regularly reviewed and updated, so your feedback is highly valued.
- The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as a free support service for King’s staff and all immediate family members. It provides independent expert advice on a range of issues such as family matters, debt management, wellbeing, relationships, personal development and life events.
- External resources and support can be found with Working Families. It’s one of the UK’s leading work-life balance charities and aims to remove the barriers faced by parents and carers in employment. As members of Working Families, we can provide staff with additional support (such as an easily accessible toolkit for parents and an advice form ranging many issues) to help create a more supportive culture to embed a flexible, high performing workforce).
On this Global Day of Parents, let us celebrate parents who balance work and personal commitments alongside family responsibilities (sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing) and let’s re-affirm our commitment to ensuring parents can flourish in all areas of their lives.
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