One Family Honours Mary Robinson at Anniversary Lunch

One Family honours Mary Robinson at

35th Anniversary Celebratory Lunch
Our 35th Anniversary celebratory luncheon took place on 22 May 2007 in St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. Founders Maura O’Dea Richards and Annette Evans Hunter were delighted to meet up with former board member Evelyn Forde and former administrator, Nuala Feric. The highlight of the afternoon was an inspirational speech delivered by our former President. Guests included Senators David Norris and Feargal Quinn, Mary Banotti MEP, Ivana Bacik as well as many former and current board members, staff, clients and supporters. More

Mary Robinson Lunch

Mary Robinson
Our 35th Anniversary celebratory luncheon took place on 22 May 2007 in St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. Founders Maura O’Dea Richards and Annette Evans Hunter were delighted to meet up with former board member Evelyn Forde and former administrator, Nuala Feric. The highlight of the afternoon was an inspirational speech delivered by our  former President. Guests included Senators David Norris and Feargal Quinn, Mary Banotti MEP, Ivana Bacik as well as many former and current board members, staff, clients and supporters.
Mrs Robinson was presented with a bespoke bracelet at the lunch, which was designed and created by internationally renowned jewellery designer, Melissa Curry. The bracelet was enclosed in a bespoke satin and velvet pouch crafted by textile and accessory designer, Helen James who attended the event.

braclet

Melissa Curry’s inspiration for the bracelet came from Mary Robinson’s unfailing support of vulnerable women and families throughout the years. The bracelet consists of a string of freshwater pearls punctuated with 18ct pink gold beads and a trio of hearts, which align to form a silver locket. The first silver heart in the trio includes an emerald, (Mary Robinson’s birthstone), while the second heart is a pink gold stencil of the One Family logo, (an adult and child reaching up to a star symbolising the supportive and aspirational qualities of the charity). The third silver heart includes 35 stipples, (inspired by the Ardagh Chalice), representing the 35 years of the charity, as well as the former name of the charity, Cherish, engraved on the front.

This Election – Fair Deal for One-Parent Families

There’s More to this Election than Stamp Duty –
We Still Need a Fair Deal for One-Parent Families
One Family today presented its Election Manifesto to Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan, TD.

At the launch Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family, called on all parties to commit to the development of Child & Family Contact services throughout Ireland.

Senator Mary Henry, President of One Family, said “I call on my colleagues to ensure the best for all families regardless of circumstances. I urge the next government to give expression to such a commitment by funding One Family to pilot an innovative Child & Family Contact Centre and the delivery of One Family Futures Programmes for lone parents wishing to participate in the labour market. “

Karen Kiernan, Director, added, “As an organisation which has worked closely with one-parent families in a period of enormous change in the social fabric of this country, we are uniquely well positioned to further develop a range of supports for such families. With funding from a government that has bursting coffers due to Ireland’s welcome prosperity, we know that we can affect enormous positive change in the attitudes, experiences and lives of the growing number of one-parent families in Ireland”.

In its manifesto One Family reminds all politicians that over one in 5 families with children under 20 in Ireland today are now one-parent families (Census 2006). These families are four times more likely to live in poverty than the population as a whole, while many fall short of achieving their potential in terms of education or employment.

One Family’s Election Manifesto also calls on the next government to commit to:

-ending poverty among one-parent families through raising state supports for families that need them, introducing a range of educational initiatives and providing positive employment opportunities for lone parents based on agreed and binding rights and responsibilities.

-addressing the inequalities experienced by children in one-parent families through ensuring that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

-supporting the diversity of one-parent families and ensuring respect and equality for all family types in the Irish constitution and in relevant legal and policy developments.

Candy Murphy, One Family’s Policy & Campaigns Manager said,
“One Family calls on all politicians engaged in the election to ensure that the needs of one-parent families are prioritised in the next programme for government.”

ENDS

Full copies of the One Family Election manifesto are available by calling
01 662 9212 or from our website: www.onefamily.ie

For further information please contact:
Karen Kiernan, Director, One Family at 01-6629212 or 086-850-9191

_____________________

Notes to Editors

This launch forms part of One Family’s election campaign. We have already advised all politicians and political parties of the content of our manifesto and have sent copies to all members of can*, our campaign and advocacy network, along with suggested questions for them to ask their local candidates.

One Family Futures is part of the holistic One Family services model that specifically supports lone parents to move towards education, training and employment.

One Family’s planned Child and Family Contact Centre will provide a space to support quality relationships between children and their parents, particularly after divorce and separation.

Photo of Minister Lenihan being presented with the Election Manifesto by Karen Kiernan, Director and children Tilly and Louie Lyons and Laoise O’Connell is available.

Children’s Voices Must be Heard in Divorce Process

Leading one-parent family organisation One Family today held a seminar on children’s rights in the divorce process. On the tenth anniversary of divorce in Ireland, the seminar is a real opportunity to increase our understanding of children’s experience of divorce and how their needs can best be reflected in the legal process of divorce. ‘Families must be supported before, during and after divorce if we are to ensure the best outcomes for children’ said Candy Murphy, One Family’s Policy & Campaigns Manager.

The recently appointed Family Court Reporter Carol Coulter and the well-known barrister Inge Clissman SC will speak from their different perspectives about how children have experienced divorce in Ireland to date. This will open the debate about glaring gaps in the current system and the failure to enforce and resource legal protections for children.

One Family calls on the Government to ensure that the right of children to be heard in the divorce process is genuinely respected and that adequate resources are committed to ensure that the child’s right can be effectively realised. In particular, resources are required to ensure that the guardian ad litem service proposed in Section 28 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 (as amended by the Children Act 1997) will be available to represent the independent interests of children in divorce cases. [i] Although the child has a theoretical right to be heard in such cases, the procedures and resources necessary to realise this right remain lacking.

‘Without the necessary commitment to ensure children’s voices are heard’ said Candy Murphy, One Family’s Policy & Campaigns Manager, ‘such legal protection remains empty rhetoric. This seminar will provide the legal professionals and policy makers of today and of the future with the opportunity to hear from Scottish legal expert Rachael Kelsey about how Scotland has worked to ensure that children’s voices are genuinely heard.’

The seminar will also show how the radical effect of EU regulations on divorce in Ireland must be urgently addressed. ‘Having children’s rights is not sufficient, they must be capable of being enforced’ says Geoffrey Shannon, Government-appointed Special Rapporteur for Children. ‘Under the Brussels II Regulation, access orders handed down in one member state may only be recognised and enforceable in another member state if the child is heard in the country of origin. At the moment, no formal procedure or supports have been put in place to enable the Irish courts to implement this obligation. So, for example, an Irish access decision would only be recognised in Austria if the Irish judge held a hearing with the child in person.’

Commenting on the seminar One Family Director Karen Kiernan said, ‘I am delighted that the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform has demonstrated his commitment to our seminar and the opportunity it provides to debate the issues surrounding divorce and children in a way that will inform future policy in this area.’

Ms Kiernan went on to say ‘we call on the Government to ensure that this commitment leads to real change for children and families going through divorce. A key step would be to fund One Family to use its 35 years’ of experience working with families to expand its services and develop a child contact centre which will work to support children in their right to have access to both parents.’[ii]

ENDS

For further information or a copy of the full submission contact:
Ruth Coleman, Communications Manager 01 662 9212/086 174 2315
Candy Murphy, Policy & Campaigns Manager 01 662 9212

[i] The right of children to be heard is also enshrined in Article 12 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
‘1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.’
[ii] The right to know and, as far as possible, be cared for by both parents is enshrined in Article 7 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
‘1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.’

Budget Fails to Address Child Poverty in Poorest Families

National one-parent family organisation One Family today were disappointed with the dismal increase in the top-up payment targeted at those with children dependent on social welfare – the first increase to the Child Dependent Allowance (CDA) for 12 years.

Commenting on the increase Candy Murphy, One Family’s Policy Manager said ‘while we welcome a move away from an exclusive focus on general Child Benefit to one which specifically targets the families most in need we are concerned about the lack of real difference this will make. The nature of the increase means that children in one-parent families who are the poorest family type, will only receive a paltry €2.70 increase in Child Dependent Allowance per week. We are also disappointed that the Budget does not include a top-up for all low-income families. The long-term key to breaking the cycle of poverty is a targeted top-up payment for all low-income families, irrespective of whether they are claiming social welfare or working in low-paid employment.’

The additional support for low-income families with school going children in the form of increases in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is welcome. However, the low take up rates for this and the Family Income Supplement mean that this support will fail to reach many of the families who need it most. Such payments should be made automatically to all families who are entitled to them.

One Family are disappointed that this Budget once again failed to recognise that supports are vitally needed for families going through separation and divorce. The organisation had asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to make provision for the establishment of a number of pilot child and family centres to provide information and support to the families and children experiencing such a difficult time.

‘While we welcome individual moves such as the long-awaited increase to the top-up payment for families dependent on social welfare’, said Ms Murphy, ‘we are disappointed that this Budget fails to present a coherent strategy to address the interlinking reality of family change and financial hardship facing many one-parent families in Ireland.’

Download a copy of One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission here or call 01 662 9212

Budget must not forget poorest families

National one-parent family organisation One Family today called on the Government not to forget that in a time when the coffers are full, many one-parent families continue to struggle in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Commenting on tomorrow’s Budget, One Family’s Policy & Campaigns Manager, Candy Murphy stated that ‘poverty is no longer an issue of there not being enough to go around, it is a denial of basic human rights. While overall poverty levels have decreased marginally one-parent families were almost a third more likely to have been without heating during 2005, than in 2004, and the number of one-parent families unable to afford a warm waterproof coat almost doubled during that time (EU-SILC, 2005).’

This Budget looks to be focusing on issues of stamp duty and higher-level taxation, rather than focusing on the poorest families and children. ‘In order to lift vulnerable families and children in Ireland out of consistent poverty’, Ms Murphy continued, ‘the Government must provide a coherent package of targeted supports for one-parent families and other low-income families. The key to breaking the cycle of poverty is a targeted top-up payment for all low-income families, irrespective of whether they are claiming social welfare or working in low-paid employment. As this is unlikely to be part of tomorrow’s Budget, it is vital that the Child Dependent Allowance, which is the top-up payment currently available to families on social welfare, is increased to €40 a week if it is to have any real effect on the poverty experienced by many one-parent families.’

One Family are also hoping to see the significant increases in the One Parent Family Payment, the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowances, the Fuel Allowance and the Family Income Supplement, as well as free medical cards for all children.

Budget 2007 must also address vital issues for families, including:

* providing adequate supports to assist families experiencing family breakdown and new family formation;
* recognising and supporting the role of parenting and shared parenting in one-parent families; and
* commissioning research on the rights and needs of non-marital families.

Download a copy of the One Family Pre-Budget Submission here or call 01 662 9212

ENDS

For further information or a copy of the full submission contact:
Ruth Coleman, Communications Manager 01 662 9212/086 174 2315
Candy Murphy, Policy & Campaigns Manager 01 662 9212

Santy Bagel Helps One-Parent Families: Vital Christmas Helpline Launched

One-parent family organisation One Family is today delighted to announce a new partnership with itsa bagel. During December, 50 cent from every Santy Bagel sold in the four itsa bagel Dublin stores will go towards funding a special helpline service to support one-parent families over the difficult holiday period. Speaking at the launch of the helpline, Peaches Kemp, itsa bagel co-owner said ‘we are delighted to be working with One Family to reach out to families in need at Christmas. At such a happy time of year it is too easy to forget that Christmas is not always a good time for everyone. One Family are providing a vital lifeline for many families who would otherwise struggle alone during the holidays.’

itsa bagel will also be extending the challenge to its customers, who will be asked to match the itsa bagel donation with a 50 cent donation of their own.

Commenting on the new partnership and the need for such a dedicated service for one-parent families, One Family Director, Karen Kiernan, said that ‘Christmas can be a wonderful time of celebration, yet it can also be a time of enormous stress for many families. Financial strain, complicated access arrangements and strained relationships can leave many parents feeling anxious and exhausted. We are very excited to work with a partner with such a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. The unique askonefamily National Christmas Helpline will provide practical support and a listening ear for many families going through crisis and hardship this Christmas.’

askonefamily National Christmas Helpline
The National Helpline for all members of all one-parent families.
1890 66 22 12
Christmas opening hours:
10am–3pm Monday–Friday, 1–22 and 27–29 December

Email: support@onefamily.ie

In addition to providing support via the helpline, One Family has also produced a Christmas Survival Guide for One-Parent Families. The Guide is available by contacting One Family on 01 6629212 or click here

It includes practical information on dealing with issues such as financial pressures and family conflict, as well as handy tips for Christmas. itsabagel will also be distributing two One Family postcards with advice on dealing with family conflict and coping when you have to spend all or part of the holidays away from your children.

Human rights being denied in Ireland today – One Family launches human rights publication

One-parent family organisation One Family today calls on Government to ensure that one-parent families are no longer denied many of their basic human rights.

Speaking at the launch of their new publication, Human Rights and One-Parent Families, One Family Director, Karen Kiernan, said that ‘we tend to think of human rights as something that is denied to people in other, less affluent countries, but the stark reality is that many families in Ireland are denied their basic human rights. Human rights are more than just political, and many one-parent families in Ireland suffer from a lack of basic legal, economic and social rights. The Constitution’ she continues, ‘underpins such inequalities in its failure to recognise the rights of non-marital families and children.’

Human rights are the key to ensuring an equitable and fair future for everyone in Ireland. ‘As individuals and a society we must take ownership of human rights and no longer leave it in the preserve of legal experts. The lack of basic human rights experienced by one-parent families is reflected in such families being three times more likely to live in poverty, having lower educational levels and experiencing real difficulties accessing housing and other services. Poverty is not a simple issue of there not being enough to go around, it is a denial of basic human rights’, said Candy Murphy, One Family’s Policy & Campaigns Manager.

One Family are launching Human Rights and One-Parent Families, to dispel the myth that human rights is an issue best left to legal experts. The booklet is designed to empower those working with one-parent families to lobby for real change and to advance the rights of one-parent families, and indeed, everyone in Ireland. One Family are delighted to have the booklet launched by Dr Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission.

As a specialist family support organisation with nearly 35 years experience of working with one-parent families, One Family believes that Government should embrace human rights and the potential it has to better the lives of everyone in Ireland.

‘It has been proved time and again that investment in change leads to a reduction in the long-term costs of supporting the more marginalised and vulnerable groups in society’ said Ms Murphy. ‘Investment in early childhood care and education is a perfect example of how addressing people’s rights at the outset leads to a more positive outcome for everyone, providing people with the tools to create a better future for themselves and their children, and to contribute more effectively to society.’

ENDS
For further information contact:
Ruth Coleman 01 662 9212/086 174 2315 or Karen Kiernan 01 662 9212/086 850 9191

NOTES TO EDITORS

The booklet Human Rights and One-Parent Families is an easy-to-read introduction to human rights and how they can be used to advance the rights of one-parent families in Ireland.
Foreword written by Mary Robinson
Copies of the booklet are available free by calling 01 662 9212 or a PDF can be downloaded here.

Families Must be at the Heart of Government Policy

National one-parent family organisation One Family today called on Minister Brennan as the minister with responsibility for families, to place families at the heart of Government policy. Speaking at the Pre-Budget Forum, One Family’s Policy and Campaigns Manager, Candy Murphy said that ‘policies need to look at the family as a whole and recognise the diversity of roles played by those living in one-parent families – such as parenting, other caring responsibilities, the development of skills and qualifications, and the opportunity to participate in employment and wider society.’

‘It is especially important,’ she continued, ‘that families are appropriately supported during and following relationship breakdown and new family formation. In particular, given increasing concern in society about shared access to children and other legal issues affecting families, One Family calls for the establishment of family law and children’s centres to provide information and support services to such families.’

Setting out ten steps to achieving equality for all families, One Family also highlighted the importance of targeting State funds at children in poverty through increases in the Child Dependent Allowance and Back to School and Clothing & Footwear Allowances. Ms Murphy said that ‘at a time when State coffers are full, the Government has never been better placed to address child poverty. One Family called for the Child Dependent Allowance to be increased to €40 per week pending the promised introduction of an employment neutral new childcare payment for families living in poverty.’

One Family have drawn up a coordinated plan of ten steps to achieve equality for all families.

1. Provide adequate incomes for one-parent families dependent on social welfare.
2. Provide adequate supports to ensure that lone parents in work can access well paid and meaningful employment.
3. Remove poverty traps that prevent one-parent families moving off social welfare dependency.

4. Remove barriers that currently prevent one-parent families achieving equal access to housing and healthcare.
5. Provide adequate supports to assist families experiencing family breakdown and new family formation.
6. Give recognition and support for the role of parenting in one-parent families.
7. Remove inequalities faced by migrant one-parent families.
8. Provide equitable pregnancy services for all.
9. Ensure the rights of non-marital one-parent families.
10. Develop a coordinated strategy to achieve equality for all one- parent families.

Dowload a full copy of the One Family Pre-Budget Submission here

ENDS

For further information or a copy of the full submission contact:
Ruth Coleman, Communications Manager 01 662 9212/086 174 2315
Candy Murphy, Policy & Campaigns Manager 01 662 9212

Ten steps to equality for all families – One Family Pre-Budget Submission

National one-parent family organisation One Family in its Pre-Budget Submission today called on Minister Brennan to tackle ten key areas to combat the massive inequalities experienced by one-parent families in Ireland:

1. Adequate incomes for one-parent families dependent on social welfare
2. Adequate supports to ensure that lone parents in work can access well paid and meaningful employment
3. Poverty traps that prevent one-parent families moving off social welfare dependency
4. Barriers that currently prevent one-parent families achieving equal access to housing and healthcare
5. Adequate supports to assist families experiencing family breakdown and new family formation
6. Recognition and support for the role of parenting in one-parent families
7. Inequalities faced by migrant one-parent families
8. Equitable pregnancy services for all
9. The rights of non-marital one-parent families
10. A coordinated strategy to achieve equality for all one-parent families

Speaking at the launch of the organisation’s Pre-Budget submission for 2007, One Family’s Policy & Campaigns Manager, Candy Murphy stated that: ‘while poverty and financial insecurity remain major issues for many one-parent families and must be concretely addressed, the Minister, as Minister for both Social Welfare and Family Affairs, must ensure that Budget 2007 also focuses on key issues for families, including:

* adequate supports to assist families experiencing family breakdown and new family formation;
* recognition and support for the role of parenting and shared parenting in one-parent families; and
* commissioning research on the rights and needs of non-marital families.’

‘Families today face many challenges in terms of managing competing pressures’ she continued. ‘For many one-parent families, those challenges become almost insurmountable when combined with the barriers that exist to accessing supports during family breakdown situations. Children are particularly vulnerable and in need of support during such difficult times – therefore a key recommendation includes research on and funding for pilot child contact centres.’

Commenting on the recommendations made in the submission, One Family Director Karen Kiernan noted that ‘a coordinated, comprehensive strategy from Government is needed to achieve equality for all families in Ireland. It is time to stop deceiving ourselves that we live in a fair nation with equal opportunities for all, when one in six families are left to flounder without adequate supports. We welcome Government moves this year to review the supports provided to one-parent families, but this must be backed up by a recognition that one-parent families, like all families, come in all shapes and sizes, with differing needs. A one-size fits all strategy of labour market activation may only seek to further marginalise Ireland’s most disadvantaged families.’

One Family are confident that the practical recommendations they suggest are very achievable and can provide an effective beginning to the formulation of a coordinated strategy to support one-parent families in Ireland.

Download a pdf of the full Pre-Budget Submission here.

ENDS

For further information or a copy of the full submission contact:
Ruth Coleman, Communications Manager 01 662 9212/086 174 2315
Candy Murphy, Policy & Campaigns Manager 01 662 9212
Karen Kiernan, Director 01 662 9212/086 850 9191