Mothers face additional barriers to work during the Pandemic – but the GRoW programme can help

Liz Sewell, Director of the Get Ready for Work – GRoW- programme run by Belina Consulting

Finding a job is like buying a house, or having a baby, something that you don’t do all the time and that benefits from having expert help. The side effects of the Pandemic, like the closure of schools and the move to home educating, saw more mothers put their careers on hold and studies carried out during lockdown showed that working mothers were interrupted more often than fathers.  But women want to work, in fact even though we work with women who face additional barriers to work our own conversations have shown us that over half want to go back to work even more now than they did in March when lockdown started. And whilst getting children back to school has to be the priority for government, schools, families and employers, we have identified four areas where we can offer help.

More online Training

Home schooling has meant that many women now feel much more confident about online and blended learning so we have developed a digital training programme that works through partnerships with our local Colleges, an excellent ESOL provider Daily Steps and using the smart phone friendly courses provided by Digital College.

More part time work

Our weekly jobs bulletin provides access to part time work and helps people find the sort of jobs that allow them to work the hours that suit their families.

Upgrading Employability skills

At GRoW we have got an Autumn Schedule of activities that range from making your first CV to getting a Christmas job. Our programme goes out in our weekly newsletter sent to all members of the GRoW programme.

  • Need to improve your confidence, motivation and make your action plan – you need the GRoW programme
  • Want to upgrade your CV or Interview Skills –  our Wednesday Zoom and Noon sessions are for you
  • Want a weekly boost to your employment join our Friday Coffee mornings with speakers, and How to sessions will provide a great start to your weekend.

Better access to safe affordable high quality childcare

In our survey 100 women speak the  lack childcare was the biggest problem facing mothers prevents many from seeking better paid roles and blocks in-work progression. For lone parents it is an even bigger problem.  In a recent survey Gingerbread found that 41% of single parents struggle to afford childcare, compared with 14% of parents in couples. We are providing advice on spaces, funding and benefits.

If you are already part of the GRoW programme we are really excited to welcome you back. If you want to find our more about joining us and you are an unemployed or inactive mother and live in London contact us here.

100 Women Speak

We asked 100 Women on the GRoW programme what Lockdown had meant for them and how it will affect their return to work.

All are long term unemployed mothers looking to go back to work

  • Half said that lockdown had actually improved their confidence.
    Only 22 said they had lost confidence
  • 46 said They were more likely to work because of Lockdown
    Only 26 said they were less likely to work
  • A quarter now wanted to work from home
  • A third had Improved their I.T. SKILLS during Lockdown
  • 34 had decided to embark on a new career
  • 46 said lockdown was a positive experience for them and their Families,
    whilst 18 said it was very difficult.
  • Childcare is still seen as the biggest barrier to work
    but 61 felt it was still too early to open schools

Liz Sewell, Director of the GRoW Programme said at the launch GRoW Coffee Morning Zoom:

This survey shows that Lockdown has been a turning point for many women, and that they want to look at how they can get back to work and have more flexible ways of working. Many want to start training now. GRoW has established an online community and the lockdown online training programme to help them move forward

Download the results here

100 Women Speak – the GRoW Lockdown Survey







Do you need extra help during Lockdown to get ready for work?

New GRoW Lockdown Online Training 

As lockdown continues we are all looking for ways to better use the time available.
This new programme is specially designed for busy mums who want to get back to work or start new training after lockdown.
All of this can be done on your smart phone.
20 spaces available 

Our offer

  • Three free online courses worth £75 – ranging from including ESOL  food & hygiene, IT and intros to lots of types of work.
  • £10 a month, for three months, to  help towards data costs for courses
  • A mentor to work with you online during lockdown, and afterwards
  • A CV that includes the skills learnt in lockdown
  • Online GRoW support group
  • Weekly email newsletter with a part-time jobs board to support work life balance

Who can join

  • Our funding is for mothers who live in London and are not working.
  • You mush have the right to work in the UK and an NI number.
  • If you are on benefits we will need to know which benefits.
This is an ESF funded programme and so only open to people not already on an ESF project
If you are already on a GRoW programme talk to your adviser about our existing on-line training support.
For more information please fill in the form below.

Working from home, managing a Large Family and home schooling

AS has five children aged from 11 months to 11 years – here she lets us know what having to self-isolate has meant to her.

I had to self-isolate, and and my family was quarantined for two weeks before lockdown even started. I was the first one in the GRoW team, who had to self-isolate along with my family for 14 days. It was a very strange feeling which I never experienced in my life before, neither my family, that we can’t go outside.  But soon the whole country joined us in this journey.

It was very challenging in the first week, cleaning, cooking, working from home, home schooling and looking after family with children from 11 years to 11-months old. My baby who just started walking around and wants to explore the whole world from shoe rack to bin and from vacuum cleaner to dustpan. On the other hand, I had to let my other children on their own, which was not very nice feeling for me.

I struggled to set up a routine of working from home while looking after family. Working from home was not something new for me but working with all my children at home and concentrating on my work was a real challenge. When I was trying to concentrate on one side the other was falling behind. I was trying my best that my children are looked after and still learning what they got from school and making sure I still that my work is also done on time.

But then I decided to setup a timetable for my children, which helped me a lot. I arranged activities, which they all can do together then planning the day along doing my work while they are still learning through any source.

After being in this situation I started comparing my normal life with this new one (due to COVID-19), I just realised that as the nature has pressed the reset button for us. As we were running so fast, without taking any rest. Everyone was so busy accomplishing their daily tasks like, they can’t stop for a single day, or even an hour. Then everything stopped. We are still living although in fear, but the life is going on. I think the world and humanity needed a pause for a while, to reset our directions from where we were going to, and to realise that there are people around us who needs our care. We can still be happy with what we still have around us.

For many people this will be a time when they will be with all their family members around them and caring for each other. Even I, for the first time realised that how have lovely neighbours I have, who were not only clean my garden for me because I don’t have time with young children, but also when I needed help while self-isolating. they always asked if me and my children needs anything, every time they were going outside.

For the first time, I heard birds twittering on trees during daytime, which normally I can’t because of motorway on the back. I also got a chance to know about my neighbours on both sides, who are pensioners and can’t meet their children because they are self-isolating. Whenever I am taking time out from my screen, I go to my garden and start having a short chat with them through our fence, to find out that they are okay and giving them the hope that everything will be ok.

This time will be very hard and challenging time for those like me, if you are having your loved ones fighting to save lives of others and themselves. By putting their lives and of their families at risk.

I really appreciate the work we as Grow Team are doing, by supporting and caring for people who needs our help in this time which bought fear and uncertainty in every one’s lives. But we should still take it positive by committing to be more kind to those who could heal by few kind words and sincere advice in this uncertain time. The skills we learnt and still learning during this time will enhance us as women even more, now we are not only expert in doing what we were doing but also became experts of digital world, and performing multi tasks at the same time, which many of us were very challenging under normal circumstances.

This is the time which we might never have again and will remember for the rest of our lives. We all should take it as a chance to slow down and look for those people around you. Even though every day is filled with a list of endless work to do, from breakfast to starting work and preparing lunch, learning and teaching to cleaning, dinner, play and many more. I know that for sure and hoping that soon “there will be a sunrise after this dark night, which will be even brighter” and with a chance for everyone to Grow once again and will never be forgotten, and we will be even more thankful for what we were having.

Helping younger children understand Corona a great new book – download here

We have found a great little book, perfect to read to your children.
Click here to download it. GRoW Mums have already said how helpful it is.

It helps younger children – under 7s – to get an understanding about why adults care about Coronavirus and why children need to wash their hands.

It also helps to put little minds at rest about the fact that people do get better.

And it is in lots of different languages.

Do download and read.



Free for GRoW Parents – one to one tutoring for your children by Oxford University  students


With children at home,  GRoW has partnered with a group of female oxford university  students and recent graduates to offer free tuition to your children whilst you are home-educating.

They can help with homework and school work or could just help with additional practice – for example reading with them, mental maths, practice creative writing, or just helping them to do something productive for an hour.

They can do Skype, WhatsApp calls, or just phone calls.

We will personally introduce you to your tutor, who will then be available to help you and your child. And you can be online too – to make sure all is going well

To get weekly lessons from one of our volunteers, please email

GRoW in your language

We have  Mums who speak many different languages on the programme

The message below says – The GRoW team and family is here to help you if (YOUR LANGUAGE) is your first language like this post and we will contact you to put you in touch with other mums.

Can you help us by adding new languages?

And are you happy to be in a GRoW Whatsapp group to keep in touch with other mums?

Hi ya grow team aur grow family app log ki madad kargi agar app ki phali language urdu ya hindi hai to app log ya group join karsaktay ho😊

The Grow(Get ready of work)  samooh aur parivaar ap Sabhi ke madad liye hai,agar ap ki pahli bhasa hindi hai

Hi Grow team and family jo tamri bhada gujrati hoi to grow me joit Thai sako chho tamne grow banti madad karse

Ida konta torido alindimam ila majmouaat whatsapp liloumahat almoutakalimat bilarabiya fi fatrat alhajr alsihi arjou minka aldhaght hona.

Echipa şi familia “The Grow” este aici pentru a te ajuta. Dacă Limba Română este limba ta maternă ca şi acest post noi te vom contacta să te punem în legătură cu alte mămici.

Want to join in  You should be on a GRoW programme already.  We will contact you and help to find other mums who speak your language.

Lockdown Working Mums in the Age of Zoom

Liz Sewell, Director of the GRoW Programme

Here at GRoW, I am managing a team of 11 women, my own girls are older, but between us the team has 26 children, 21 of them under eleven. So now we have home educators amongst us, as well as mums, carers, and team members. This is what we learnt in the first week:
– We all still want to work. –
Work is helping us make sense of the weirdness.
– Zoom is allowing us to have that shared time that makes work a good place to be, as well as a thing to do.
– We have agreed to start work later – to give everyone time to get the kids work done (and enjoy PE with Joe Wicks).
– We have agreed to try side by side working with the older kids, so they understand that work carries on as normal for them too.
– We are building a new team routine together so that we can find Zoom time, work time and family time to suit 12 families

Our motto is reach out for help if you need it, and offer if you have some time spare.

So solidarity to all the working, home educating, caring, sharing, supportive Mums out there – we’ve got this!

fullsizeoutput_72f4Liz Sewell FIEP is Director of the GRoW Programme and founded Belina Consulting.  She is a former Chief Executive of the lone parent Charity Gingerbread and sits on the Mayor of London Skills for Londoners Board. 

100 women Get Ready for Work

A big question for the GRoW programme is how can we get our message out to more women that we can help them Get ready or work?

A great answer was the Uxbridge Jobs Fair organised by Job Centre Plus at the Pavillions on 17 September.

We met old friends and new mums and we have already started to support women who want advice, activities and support to take the next step.