In a year that’s been extremely challenging for everyone, having a support network has been more important than ever before. And for our parents at Camelot, that meant coming together and forming their own community. Saira and Kate, the co-chairs of our new Parents’ Network, tell us more...
Can you introduce yourself?
Kate: I'm Kate, Head of Risk & Insurance at Camelot and Mum to a little girl called Persephone who is 8 (going on 18). We love cinema, reading and she has inherited my love of shopping!
Saira: Hi, I am Saira, I work as a Process and Policy Analyst and have been at Camelot for nearly 14 years. I had both my children whilst employed at Camelot, my daughter who is 9 and my son who is 3.
Tell us a little about how the Parents' Network was first formed and why.
Kate: For a lot of us, family is one of the most important things in our lives. Whether you're about to become a first-time parent or you're experiencing change in family dynamics, it can have a big impact on your life. Balancing work and family life can be a juggling act, but with the right support it can feel less of a challenge. During lockdown, a group of Camelot parents joined together to create a working parenting community to support and share experiences with each other.
How has the Parents’ Network progressed since it was launched?
Saira: The Parents’ Network started off as an idea a year before lockdown. But with juggling parenthood and working full-time it was only when we went into lockdown that there was a sense of urgency to look for support within the Camelot community. With so much change (and so suddenly) there was a lot of anxiety around how we would cope with working and having our children with us!
As a network, we have had 3 sessions with external speakers including some 1-2-1 parenting clinics, 14 virtual coffee mornings and over 90 members with children of all ages in our Google Chat room. Everything that we do has the primary objective of connecting with each other and creating a non-judgmental, safe space for us to be able to ask for advice, tips, recommendations etc. We’ve talked about anything and everything from slow cooker recipes, to 11 Plus exams, to parental leave.
How has Camelot supported it's working parents throughout the pandemic?
Kate: As a company, Camelot wanted to ensure all employees have the tools needed to support the working parents in order to balance work and homeschooling/childcare. It was very important to offer flexibility during this time, including looking at the various leave options, including using any untaken holiday and the additional parental leave available (up to 15 days). Chatting to our line managers to manage specific requirements was also encouraged.
We engaged with external speakers to talk to parents about how we can support children's mental and emotional health during these challenging and uncertain times. Although this session was specific to the current pandemic situation, the principles and skills for supporting children’s/family mental health can also be applied more generally.
Some of the new initiatives introduced included holding virtual after school clubs, to help entertain the kids during those late afternoon hours - these were fantastic live virtual classes covering music, art and dance for children of all ages. We also had coffee chats, with no agenda, just a place for people to have a chat and get reassurance that it wasn't just them struggling with homeschooling and full-time working!
What advice can you offer to other working parents?
Saira: My advice to other parents is not to shy away from asking for support or advice. It is so difficult to juggle parenting and working, but there are so many of us doing the same juggling act. Reach out to your colleagues or line manager if you need help or support.