- Parenting Through Stressful Times
- The Skill of Clear & Direct Communication
- Positive Parenting – For Changing Families
- Family Communications – Coping With Family Life and Teens
- Family Communications – Parenting When Separate
A group of primary school teachers Tara O’Sullivan, Kyna Rushe & Jana Lyons have raised over €5,000 for families in need. Through their efforts and the support of socially minded companies, charity One Family, was able to directly support vulnerable families with food, back to school hampers and children’s activity packs during the COVID lockdown and as schools reopened.
The story began in February, when One Family were contacted by Tara O’Sullivan who wanted to do something to help vulnerable children and families; Tara had seen how poverty was affecting young children in her school particularly those in one-parent families. With her colleagues, she came up with an idea to raise funds to make back-to-school hampers for families in need. The teachers started their efforts with a table quiz and raised over €4,000 for the packs. Then Covid hit; the decision was quickly made to use the funds straight away to help those most in need. Food poverty had quickly became an issue for many one-parent families as schools closed, children were at home full time and shops introduced restricted access for children so it was decided to use the funds raised to help families immediately with food coupons/toys and supports.
One Family had like most organisations moved their services on-line during lockdown but staff still braved the virus, while sticking to regulations, by providing outreach support to local families. One Family’s Parenting Team made calls to homes delivering practical support in the way of Lidl vouchers, shopping and a listening ear. Many parents were struggling to cope; the isolation and loneliness was extreme; dealing with the unknown and helping children manage anxiety with little or no support was overwhelming for many.
On top of the outreach work, One Family, with the support and generosity of Rothco, were able to support 50 children with summer activity packs. As lockdown was in place, families needed support to cope with the challenge of parenting 24/7 in often very small confined spaces, with little or no family support. The activity packs brought a lease of life with games for indoors for all the family followed later with summer packs. The packs included scooters, ball games, hula hoops, bubbles, tennis rackets, balls and so much more as we tried to support families to get on board with the government initiative of Play Day in early summer. Children at this stage needed to find safety in coming back out into the parks and playgrounds and the summer activity packs really helped this happen for so many families.
The funds the teachers had raised in February were going quite quickly on vouchers, so they decided to set up a GoFundMe page called ‘Feeding Children During Covid’. By the time the country began to emerge from lockdown, they had purchased ,€4,000 worth of Lidl vouchers for needy families. Then, One Family asked if they could go back to our original plan and make back-to-school hampers. The charity was anxious for us to make these hampers by July, as they were concerned that families would be worrying over the summer about how they could afford the back-to-school costs.
Tara, Kyna and Jana gained further support from companies; Lidl Ireland donated washing powder and school supply vouchers to the packs. Evans Educational donated pencils, jigsaws, erasers and zip folders, and ReCreate Ireland donated beautiful pencil cases to every hamper. Despite a shortage of stock, the store managers in Smiggle went to great lengths to source the bundles, which include a bag, lunch box and bottle, from their stores around the country. These were sold with a VIP discount and a generous donation of scented pencils. The fundraising efforts succeeded in providing 50 primary aged children with a Back to School Bundle, supporting them and their parent to have some of the essential items ready for the Autumn Winter Term of school ahead.
Geraldine Kelly, Director of Parenting at One Family said, “The families we work with are extremely grateful to Tara, Kyna and all the companies who donated funds and supplies such as Rothco. Thank you to all who supported the Go Fund Me appeal and other events Tara hosted throughout the year.
We hope to work with our Winter Appeal donors who have been very generous to us over the past twenty years to continue to support families this Christmas. If you wish to make a donation to One Family please do so through our website, your donation will help families directly provide for their children this coming autumn and winter.”
Parent Lee said, “ Thank you all for your dedicated work on the front lines and for all the work behind the scenes to ensure my family was safe and supported not only physically and emotionally, but also knowing I didn’t have to worry about where our next meal would come from or how I was going to give my son the back to school supplies he needed was frankly, such a relief.”
One Family’s tips on how to make blended families work was featured in an article by Sheila Wayman in the Irish Times on Wednesday 2 September. The article featured comment by One Family’s CEO Karen Kiernan on how to make blended families work – to read the article click: Irish Times article:
Meanwhile, our helpline staff have come up with a list of books that parents could find helpful when starting conversations with children about blended and shared families. Diverse families: https://onefamily.ie/booklist/diverse-families-booklist/ and Blended Families: https://onefamily.ie/booklist/blend
One Family’s tips on how to make blended families work:
- Never presume just because you as adults are in a good relationship that your children will be overjoyed to meet your new partner’s children;
- Ensure your couple relationship is strong and stable before subjecting children to a blended family. You will need to agree how you both play a role in parenting each other’s children, especially if they are young and you are left in charge at times;
- It must be made very clear to children that new partners are not replacing mum/dad. They should always call the new partner by their first name;
- Children usually choose who they become friends with, so being landed with someone else’s children all of a sudden is not easy and they may not get along. Yet they need to feel at home in each parent’s home;
- Children want to spend time with parents and not always with new blended families, unless you are very lucky. Sharing you may be a challenge;
- If you have no children but are moving in with your new partner and their children, you need to do it in stages. It is a bit like being an uncle/aunt. You need to support the children to have a good relationship with both biological parents and extended family – this comes before your family;
- Couple time is crucial. If you get caught up in childcare and parenting with no time as a couple, you will fall down. You must have a strong relationship, take time to talk and compromise, so you can parent children in the one home and meet their needs;
- Include children in the planning to become a blended family. Include the other parent(s) in this plan too;
- Explain family forms to children – do not presume they get it. Be factual and help them understand about whose mum/dad is whose biologically and otherwise, about step siblings and grandparents etc Help them explain their family form to others and to feel proud of the family form they belong to.
For more parenting tips click here:
Getting children back to school is not only a key priority for government now but for most parents too. Come September many children will have spent six months full time with parents, acting as teacher, childminder and Mum/Dad. Children mostly do want to get back out into the world, see their friends, get back to activities they love and get away a little from parents. There is of course anxiety around children going back to school, for parents, for children and for the government. Read our tips on how we can back to school and work this Autumn here.
Press release: 1 June 2020
A specialist helpline for one-parent families has recorded an 84% increase in calls when compared with the same period last year as parents struggle with life in lockdown. The askonefamily helpline run by charity, One Family, provides support for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and those separating. The increase comes as parents seek support on new and challenging issues that have arisen since restrictions began such as access to shops, access/contact arrangements for separated parents, payment of child maintenance, guardianship issues, queries on their social welfare payments and money worries following loss of employment due to Covid19.
One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “All our services have been extremely busy as demand from parents increased due to the lockdown. As soon as restrictions were announced, we moved all our parenting and counselling services to telephone and online. We rolled out new services such as parent & toddler groups and coffee mornings via Zoom to combat social isolation and provide practical support to parents. In response to demand, we also introduced specialist slots on our expanded helpline from our parenting, early years and play therapy staff to answer questions on changes to children’s behaviour and other parenting issues arising during lockdown.”
Helpline manager Sarah Devilly said, “We’re hearing more distress on calls as parents try to cope with an extended period of balancing childcare with work and/or managing a loss of income and changed family routines and reduced contact with other family members. Calls to the askonefamily helpline tend to vary greatly with some short focused calls as parents seek and find the information they need, while others can last up to an hour as parents seek listening support and an opportunity to talk about their particular problems.”
Karen Kiernan added, “The issues that are coming up on the helpline are reflected in results of a recent survey we did, with 42% of parents concerned about access issues during lockdown and 65% worried about what happens to their child if they were to get sick. We have been working to address these issues with guidance on how to manage access/contact arrangements in your family [link] and guidance on planning to look after your child if you were to get sick [link].
“We’ve also being working behind the scenes and in the media to raise awareness of the issue of children being banned in shops, with some success as responsible retailers adapted their policies and the Taoiseach’s office called for retailers to adopt a common sense approach [link]. Though there are still problems for some families as some retailers ignore advice from Government to protect vulnerable families.”
One Family want to assure parents that we are here to help and the askonefamily helpline is open to answer questions visit www.onefamily.ie
Telephone: lo-call: 1890 662 9212or from a mobile 01-662 9212
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.
These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.
All One Family’s services are open though operating with some restrictions during Covid-19 click here for a list of services
For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191
Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294
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Trading as One Family, Cherish CLG is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, registered in Dublin, Ireland with registered office at 8 Coke Lane, Dublin 7 and registered Company Number 45364. One Family is also a charity (Charity Regulatory Authority No. 20012212 and Charity No. 6525).
Directors of One Family: Helen Hall, Jennifer Good, Nuala Haughey, Rosemary Wokocha, Donagh McGowan, Eimear Fisher and Jack Eustace.