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A Magazine for Sheffield

Coronavirus is pushing mums out of work. I’m trying to do something about it.

Career coach Lydia Newell founded Works For Me Coaching before the pandemic to support working mums. Now, with many children having to self-isolate, the pressures are even greater. 


A couple of weeks ago our little boy came back from nursery with a cough.

Pre-Covid I would’ve thought nothing of it. He’d had a stream of snot running out of his nose all week, so logic says it’s just another cold. Yet in this new normal, every time he gets a temperature or a cough we need to get him tested before we risk taking him back to nursery.

I went online to book a test. No appointments. I tried every couple of hours. I was occasionally offered a drive-through test centre in Birmingham which is a four-hour round trip. From his first symptoms to getting a test within a reasonable distance of our house took around 46 hours.

We got the results back in under 28 hours, which is much quicker than a lot of people, so I’m thankful for that. Most of this unfolded on days he wouldn’t have been in nursery anyway, when my husband was working from home.

But let’s do the maths. If our son had got those symptoms on Sunday evening, we would have paid for three nursery days he couldn’t attend. We’re fortunate that our employers are happy for us to work from home, but what if they weren’t? We would both have been out of work for three days. We’re fortunate that we have some carer's allowance with our jobs, but what if we didn’t? Unpaid leave or annual leave. Then imagine this happening once a month.

How long is it going to be before working parents feel pushed out of the workforce because they have to look after their children? It’s already happening, as the results from the recent Pregnant Then Screwed survey suggest; 46% of respondent mothers who were being made redundant "blamed a lack of childcare provision during the Covid-19 pandemic".

Yes, I found lockdown a challenge, but it’s not lost on me how fortunate I am compared to many working mums. I still have a job. I haven't been made redundant or watched the industry I work in be deemed 'non-essential' and therefore lost my salary. Many have. I work for a supportive employer, who would never put me in the position of having to choose between my career and my family. Many don't.

So while I work part-time for a homeless charity, I also run Works For Me Coaching, supporting mums to find work that suits them and their family.

When lockdown hit, I was shocked to hear that 40% of parents at my little boy’s nursery had lost their jobs. As a trained career coach, I put together training to help those who suddenly found themselves out of work. To date, this training has been viewed over 1,000 times.

With Covid-19 hitting the economy hard, working mums are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle a career and family life. As a working mum myself, I'm so concerned about the findings of Pregnant Then Screwed's survey and the impact Covid is having on the careers of so many mums.

The uncertainties of what will happen if children have to isolate in response to a peer in their bubble at school testing positive. The unsettling idea of having to test your toddler every time they get a temperature or cough and keeping them at home until you get that negative result. The worry of how your employer will respond to you having to continue to juggle work and childcare, despite everyone else 'being back to normal'.

In response to this, through Works For Me Coaching I’m offering free access to a mini course to help mums figure out the next steps in their career and I’m also running a competition to win six weeks of one-to-one support from me, a certified life and career coach, to help you find a job that works for you and your family.

The competition launched on Monday 21 September and the winner will be announced on Monday 12 October. To enter, just comment on the competition thread on the Works For Me Coaching Facebook page. All terms and conditions are explained there too.

This competition is for any mum who is feeling stuck in a career rut, perhaps having realised her priorities have changed since lockdown and that her current job isn't a good fit. It’s for any mum who has found herself made redundant and needs help finding a new job. It’s for any mum who is feeling pushed out of her current job, being forced to choose between her career and her kids. It’s for any mum who needs help with her career.

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