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your story | how Bristol’s parents work

Continuing in the series of pieces on parenting and working in Bristol, today I’m sharing the results of the research which just under 800 of you contributed to in May this year. In order to prepare for a political hustings in Bristol West on the subject of working parents, organised by The Village Hall, Bristol Parents readers told us about how they work, how their kids are cared for whilst they work, and what are the biggest issues they face.

The results are pretty remarkable and I’m really proud to present them. If you would like to read the research in full, please have a look here at BristolWorkingParentsSurvey

This is a long read, but worth it, and don’t miss the section on school places in Bristol, I was really, really surprised. 

How Bristol’s parents work

The majority of us work fixed hours, 49% part-time, and 18% full time.

However, 20% of workers work flexible hours, so, one in five Bristol parents have flexible jobs, which is very encouraging.

Interestingly, but probably more to do with reader demographic, less than one percent of us are on a zero hours contract. 2% of respondents don’t work at all.

How Bristolian companies support working parents

It seems at first glance that Bristolian employers support their staff who are parents pretty well. Two thirds of respondents feel that they have the support they need at work to be able to do their job and be a parent.

On the flip side, almost one fifth of Bristolian employers, according to the survey, make the right noises about supporting working parents, but in reality, do nothing.

The results say that 8% of Bristolian employers make working and parenting difficult for them as employees, and 8% of working parents have left a job in Bristol because of a lack of support for them as parents.

What could Bristolian employers do better?

For me, the most fascinating statistic is that a third of us need our employers to educate our colleagues more about the issues that face working parents. This is something that only hit me when I became a parent – howignorant I had been of any sort of professional needs other than my own, as a childless employee.

Bristol parents are craving flexibility and home working – almost half of us (45%) of respondents want more of both.

3 in 10 people also think Bristolian employers could create more workable roles for employed parents.

What could Bristol do better?

Bristol, as a city, has some work to do, although things aren’t all negative.

50% of working parents who responded thought that the city needs more childcare settings with more choice and more flexibility. 40% need better after school clubs and childcare.

36% of people need something to be done about the traffic and parking to enable them to juggle the balance of work and children, and 29% need the city’s public transport.

Just under 20% want more directives and guidance from the city for employers.

14% want better qualified childcare professionals.

What Bristolians on Maternity Leave are worrying about

A seventh of respondents were on maternity leave, and their concerns about their return to work were a tough read that will be familiar to many.

Just under 50% are concerned about whether they will be able to even do their job now that they have children. A third are worried that their employer won’t support them or their partner through the return to work.

6 in 10 are worried that the Bristol traffic and public transport system will prevent them from being on time for either their work, or their childcare.

8% won’t be returning to work after children for financial reasons. 21% said they were really looking forward to returning to work, which I took as an encouraging sign for parents at work.

Who’s looking after the kids?

One third of working parents in Bristol are relying on grandparents or other relatives for help with their children whilst they work.

7.5% of us aren’t using any childcare at all.

Of those who are using childcare, other than school, 53% are using a nursery or pre-school, one in five use a childminder, and just under 4% use a nanny or nanny share.

What makes childcare hard in Bristol?

Cost. 60% of Bristol parents cite finding affordable childcare in the first place as their major issue. The second biggest issue given, is that just over a third of respondents found it hard to find people that they trusted to look after their kids, and another third had the most problems finding childcare that fitted with the hours they actually needed to work.

Location and transport also played a huge part in difficulties. 29% said the hardest thing about childcare was finding something local enough to their house. 1 in 5 people said it was hardest finding somewhere they could get to from work.

The truth about Bristol school places

If you ask most people what the worst thing about bringing up children in Bristol is, and school places will almost certainly be near top of the list.

Of just under 500 families who answered the question, 75% received their first choice of school on application. A quick news scan from 2017 shows that the Press Association estimated that 91% of pupils nationally got their first choice school. So, that leaves our city well below average, with 1 in 4 kids not getting the place their parents hoped for.

Only 6,65% of respondents received a place at their third choice school. Just over 4% received a place at a school they didn’t apply for.

Is this good enough? I don’t think so.

The state of us

Finally, a look at how we operate and juggle this marvellous set of utter balls.

Two thirds of mums are the parent that leaves work and pick the kids up if they are sick. 

However, a third of people’s partners have also altered their hours now the kids have come along, to juggle the childcare.

Not everybody, of course, has a partner. Just under 6% of respondents were single parents, which had affected their ability to find work and childcare.

One in four parents said that school holidays significantly impacted their ability to do their job, and one in five of us are regularly late to pick up our children due to work pressures.

Tell me what you think

This survey was by you, for you, to help you make decisions, make changes, lobby your firm for more support, start discussions with your school or childcare provider, and, in general, get you what you need.

Bristol, it seems, is progressive in some areas, and our businesses are on the right track, but we’re being let down by a myriad of public service issues. We can change this by asking more questions, working together, and talking about this even more than we currently do.

And, what’s most important, I hope it shows you that, however you’re doing it, other people are doing it that way too. And you’re doing a blinding job, at home, and at work.

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