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Are Mum’s Being Forced into Minimum Wage Jobs?

You know how it is, you decide you want to be a stay at home mum, you want to work fewer hours, you want more flexible working within your working day, but there is just nothing suitable or flexible enough, or your employer already feels the strain. It got me thinking, and after talking to other Mum’s, it made me ask, Are Mum’s Being Forced into Minimum Wage Jobs? Or are we seeing a new way of working from home due to social media? Are Mum’s looking for alternatives?

Girl at laptop
Are Mum’s Being Forced into Minimum Wage Jobs?

I never thought much about it when I decided to leave my 9 to 5 job back in 2012. At the time, I had a nearly two-year-old; Thomas wasn’t hitting his milestones and with more and more professionals suddenly taking an interest. I decided to find a job that was more ‘part-time’. Easier said than done.

Giving up the nine till five

At the time, I had ten years of office experience, two years of marketing and event expertise and various skills, including retail and hospitality. Still, I struggled to find a part-time position that was two or three days a week that paid more than minimum wage or any wage. I eventually took on a casual (zero-hour contract) position as it gave me the flexibility to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the hours I worked. For over seven years, I worked in the hospitality industry, at times working two casual jobs to meet my mortgage. But for seven years, I never earned the same amount each month. I would go from £150 to over £1000 depending on the required hours. I learnt that weekends or bank holidays were ‘busy’ times, and no flexitime was allowed then. I got used to clock watching on a Saturday afternoon, knowing I’d have to leave for work around 3 pm or getting in at 3 am on a Monday knowing you have to get up in three hours to get your kids to school! Those were the days! But it gave me the flexibility to pick my daughter up from school, take my son to his hearing appointments, study at college and university, and I worked with some of the most professional and inspirational people I have ever met.

Books

Did I feel that I had a choice? I was frequently performing a juggling act. I tried the supermarket option during those seven years; it was great. Eight hours a week minimum, I earned regular money, and I could have over time. Then my shifts started moving around throughout the day. ‘When did my hours suddenly become portable?’ apparently, it was written into my contract that I had ‘flexible’ hours meaning if they gave me 8 am starts, I couldn’t argue. Suddenly, it no longer worked, but I still had hospitality to keep me afloat.

Around this time, social media became a huge deal; not only did we have Facebook and Twitter, but we also had Instagram, Etsy, video apps and more recently, Tiktok. Suddenly, a Bodyshop at Home Consultant (I dabbled) could reach a wider audience, or an Avon representative no longer has to crawl the streets; a digital version is available. Influencers are nothing new, but suddenly girls as young as 15 were popping up showing their make up tips, boys were filming themselves doing pranks, and the younger generation wanted to be them. With a new career called ‘Youtubers’ suddenly being a career goal, creative arts was becoming a big deal.

But they weren’t the only ones; Mum’s wanted to spend more time at home with their children and somehow showing what your top ten baby finds became a thing we were all desperate to read, watch and interact with. Enter the Mumpreneurs!

Enter the Mumpreneurs

The Evening Standard published an article showcasing 4 inspiring mumpreneurs and how they started. According to the Office of National Statistics, there was an increase of 373,000 mumpreneurs and women registering as part-time and self-employed between 2001 and 2016, from 439,000 to 812,000. This has now more likely doubled due to growing childcare costs, lack of school holiday support and employers lack of support when parents request to work flexibly. Unfortunately, businesses continue to be less than positive towards working parents.

Suddenly, Mum’s could do anything from their kitchen tables. They no longer had to worry about childcare, commuting, juggling the summer holidays; at their fingertips, they could work at 6 am or 2 pm while their toddler slept. Mum’s didn’t have to worry about taking any old job, and they were doing it for themselves.

Girl drawing in notebook while mother working remotely nearby
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Let’s not be naive; some Mum’s don’t want to spend 24/7 at home, or for whatever reason, their only option is a low paying or minimum wage job.

While trying to pay for childcare, working a minimum wage job can be counterproductive until they reach two or three years old. With a full-time nursery place costing over £1000, it’s in one hand and out the other. There are other options that some parents appreciate, the grandparents!

Thank God for Grandparents

I’m am one of the lucky ones; tax credits have supported my family over the years. I know it’s a controversial subject. I’ve heard it all. ‘If you can’t afford kids, don’t have them…’ I know. But we aren’t living in the ’70s or ’80s anymore when houses were worth £30k or a Dad’s £15k wage would cover all the bills, food for a month and still have change! I knew what I was taking on; I knew that I would have to return to work full time in 2007. Thank god for Grandparents! I was lucky; I managed only to pay for a part-time nursery place (it still cost £800 a month). Had I not had the support of my Mum and tax credits, I wouldn’t have been able to return to work. Not all parents can get tax credits, childcare vouchers seem a thing of the past now, and childcare choices a government website can help you understand what you are entitled to.

Childcard.jpg

Government Support

Love it all, hate it. There is still a lot of backlash regarding tax credits, universal credit and benefits in general. Still, with recent events, since March 2020, more than 3.6 million have had to apply for universal credit, with 51% of them being women. Those women have come from all walks of life, from many career backgrounds, and yes, it will always feel degrading because society makes us feel that in asking for financial support, we have somehow become lazy. This isn’t the case at all.

Government support has adjusted over the years; only one parent had to work full time, then it was both parents had to work – one over 24 hours a week, and it continues to pinch the pennies. My 15 hours free a week was never enough, not when I worked 40 hours a week. I was pleased when the government increased the free childcare to up to 30 hours per week so parents like myself could return to work. It was too late to benefit me, but friends have been able to benefit from that little bit extra. However, you both have to be working and earning over £139 a week. Technically it’s spread across the whole year rather than 30 ‘actual’ hours. Which caused a great deal of confusion at its inception.

Child in White Long-sleeve Top and Dungaree Trousers Playing With Lego Blocks
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Imagine that a full-time wage is £1200 after-tax; the average childcare in my area is £50-£60 a day. A full-time childcare place would set you back £1000 a month for one child under three. This was pretty much my life! Tax credits paid up to 80% at the time, which took it down to about £800 a month for my two children; once the 15 hours kicked in if you’ve done the maths, that leaves a total of £400! You spend 40 hours a week earning £9 an hour to take home £400 eventually. Forgive me; I never saw the logic. I worked out at the time that I was better off, working part-time, saving on childcare and earning slightly less an hour.

It is very much about what works for you as a family.

The New Flexible

I have always advocated for flexible working, whether part-time, job sharing, shift patterns, flexitime, working from home and freelancing. My own experiences in the last 20 years have shaped my belief that the younger generation will embrace a more flexible approach. Employers will need to pay more; they will generally need to consider their employment packages and allow their employees a more relaxed approach to their working lives.

I should be sharing the joys of having my children while juggling and holding down a career but I feel guarded continuously. I’m not young; I’m not in my early 20’s embarking on my career. I’m pretty solid in the belief that my children are why I work hard, why I want them to be proud of me.

As Mum’s and some Dad’s should we be forced to take on minimum wage jobs, our skills should be assets. But I wonder how many of us downplay our experience to get in the door (I know I have). Perhaps you feel pushed out of your job? Did you take on a minimum wage job to feed your family?

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Cornwall Family Travel Reviews Travel

Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park Review 2019

For those who don’t know, Perran Sands is a Holiday Park owned and managed by Haven Holidays (Bourne Leisure). Haven has a variety of holiday parks across the UK, with two in Cornwall. Perran Sands and Riviere Sands, in Hayle. Both are located near beautiful Cornish beaches and easily reach significant family attractions. This is an independent review; I have not been gifted or paid in any way. We were given a voucher for our holiday from the Family Fund. We are a family of four, and this was our seventh year staying at Perran Sands, but the first time visiting in May Half-Term and the first time trying an adapted caravan. This is usually our annual summertime holiday in July, but we moved it forward. This is our Perran Sands Holiday Park Review. 

About Perran Sands

Perran Sands is an average-sized holiday park in North Cornwall, in a small seaside town named Perranporth; it’s pretty much the surfing capital of Cornwall! It has a private sandy beach with access from the park, but please be advised due to the stairs, it isn’t suitable for wheelchair users, pushchairs or those with mobility issues! Believe me, after a day at the beach, it’s a killer!

One of the reasons we return to Perran Sands year after year is the fantastic sea views. You really can’t fault the location of the local beaches, with Perranporth beach being just a short ride away. Tripadvisor is the best place to check them out if you want more reviews. Overall it has a great score, and we’ve only ever had issues that were not directly linked to Haven or the park.

Perran Sands park entrance taken in spring 2021
Haven (Perran Sands) Park Entrance – Photo by Gemma Cantan 2021

Check-In & Finding Our Way Around

Check is always smooth. Like last year, check-in was inside the Dune’s Bar. An enthusiastic and friendly team member greeted us, and he confirmed our accommodation and pointed us in the right direction of our caravan. The good thing about Perran Sands is that it’s straightforward to find your way around; the signposting is very obvious. If you find yourself lost, staff members are often on hand to point you in the right direction.

As a side note: This year, we booked an adapted caravan for the first time; however, our son, who has special needs, was not impressed. This is not reflected in Haven and their standard of accommodation; it was neat, tidy and had direct access to the park, but unfortunately, he likes his routine, and he didn’t settle. So I spoke to reception to see if there was any possibility of moving. Thankfully they moved us to a three-bedroom prestige caravan with a partial sea view for four nights (we had to cut our trip short). Our caravan was located at the top of the park in an area called ‘Pentreath View’ and ironically right next door to the caravan we stayed in the year before. I have included a few photographs of the standard below.

Our caravan included: Microwave, dishwasher, hob, cooker and hood with fan, fridge with small freezer, digital TV with DVD player, Bluetooth sound system, ensuite toilet, TV in the bedroom, plenty of storage, radiators (believe me it was cold for May) and plenty of space for a large family to spread out.

Interior of Prestige Caravan
Interior of Prestige Caravan

Onsite Facilities at Perran Sands

Let’s talk about food: Like most holiday parks, there are some excellent facilities on-site, including The Surf Bay Restaurant, Cooks Fish & Chip Shop, Papa Johns Pizza, mini supermarket and laundrette. There is a large entertainment complex, including an indoor and outdoor swimming pool and an outside lazy river. Two bars, ‘The Dunes bar’, which was closed during our recent trip and the ‘Live Lounge’, where the primary entertainment is and just the spot to unwind late into the evening.

We have eaten at the Surf Bay on previous visits, and it’s a cross between a Harvester and a Beefeater. Good quality food, with a bar located outside. You cannot pre-book so that you can expect a wait during busy times, but you get to eat in the ‘camper’ if you are lucky. Great atmosphere but busy! Always busy.

Ready for a change of pace? Book your next break and enjoy the great outdoors, adrenaline-boosting activities, on-site restaurants, and epic evening entertainment. Sort your 2022 Haven Stay + Play holiday today.

There are two takeaways onsite ‘Cooks’ Fish & Chips and Papa Johns. Both can be busy at times but convenient. Papa Johns, even deliver to your caravan! Both offer a decent meal, right-size portions and are not hugely expensive compared to nearby Perranporth.

Keeping the little ones and big ones entertained: The advantage of a holiday park is that they offer an array of things for young and old to get involved with. Haven offers activity bundle passes 12 activities for £50 and 24 activities for £100. We’ve personally never used them, so I can’t comment, but they appear popular with other visitors and include archery and aqua gliders.

Outdoor seating area at Perran Sands Holiday park
Perran Sands Complex

*Notes* Update for 2022. I have excellent authority that Perran Sands no longer offer activity bundles, and it is now all booked on a first-come basis through their new app. 

The swimming pools are open to everyone from 9.30 am, and I would suggest arriving early as we queued for over 45 minutes to enter due to the sheer volume of people in the pools. One large indoor pool, a separate slide, a smaller toddler pool and a large outdoor pool with a lazy river. It was too cold to venture outside this year, but the lazy river is extremely popular and worth investigating.

Aside from the central park, there are surf lessons, football pitches and plenty of play parks dotted around, and if you are all about arcades and pool tables, the Live Lounge area has that as well. There were large extended families with lots of younger children during our visit.

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Perranporth

If you prefer to venture further afield, Perran Sands places you at a great location as a base. You are an 8-minute drive away from Perranporth, where you will find shops, bars, food outlets, ice cream and quaint gift shops. Newquay is only a 15 – 20-minute drive away, where you can find a large town, restaurants, bars, and supermarkets. Truro is the largest town just 25 minutes away, with its beautiful cathedral, cobbled streets and Primark (sorry, I’m a sucker for a bit of shopping). There are also some excellent coastal drives with the most amazing beaches, Porth, Mawgan Porth, Watergate Bay and Crantock, to name a few.

Perranporth beach from above
Perranporth Beach from above

Top Tips

As a family who likes a home from home, Perran Sands offers us the option of eating in or eating out while not feeling obligated to eat on site. There are many options, from camping to beach houses, from glamping to chalets. Over our previous visits, we have stayed in various types of caravan classes, so there is a budget for everyone from standard to platinum with decking.

  1. Booking early can save you ££££. We often book nine months in advance and save 25%. Sometimes up to 50% depending on the offers available.
  2. In peak season months (July/August), you will often queue into the Live Lounge to access the launderette. So it’s best to get there early to avoid disappointment, as, in Summer 2017, we couldn’t even get into the main Live Lounge to get seats at 6.15 pm!
  3. If you are interested in activities, book in advance using the app; you will be surprised how quick everything fills up.
  4. There is so much to see and do in the local area, from zoos and waterparks to railways and theme parks (Flambards is A…mazing!)
  5. Get up and out early; in peak summer, you can imagine how busy places get. We’ve struggled to park in Newquay in August due to the number of people.
Booking.com

So there you have it; next time you consider a ‘staycation’, maybe Perran Sands is worth a look. Perhaps, you’ve previously been? Maybe you are staying this year? Let me know if you have your comments to add.


Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park, Perranporth, Cornwall, TR6 0AQ

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Careers

Top 10 Tips for Attending a Job Interview

So you’ve got the perfect CV, your covering letter is tailored and makes you sound like the ideal candidate, and within two or three days, you have a phone call offering you that all-important interview, but the thought of it ties your stomach in knots, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s your first interview or your 25th, I will offer you a few essential tips to help you (hopefully) sail through the interview and land that job! Here are my top 10 tips for attending a job interview!

1. Dress appropriately

A lot has changed since my first interview. From being at school, then college and beyond, I was told continuously that appearance was essential and wore a smart suit with smart shoes and felt uncomfortable for many years. That’s not to say not to but consider the position. I’ve seen interviewees at Tesco dressed in suits and ties, looking extremely uncomfortable. That’s not to say that Tesco won’t appreciate the effort you’ve made, but a smart pair of trousers and a shirt would probably be okay.

We are now in a technological age where office attire is more relaxed. I used to embrace dress down Fridays and enjoyed wearing jeans to the office, but more recently, I worked in an office where they all wore jeans and converses, and there was me wearing smart casual. I’m not saying wear jeans and Converse (believe me, don’t), but consider a little of your personality.

2. Research

Don’t ever underestimate the power of research. I’m going to be honest, I’ve been to interviews fully equipped with background information on companies and never been asked one question about what I know, and then I’ve been to interviews and been asked questions that I could never have answered. Look at their social media pages; what’s one of the last things they’ve posted or shared? Do they have social media pages? I was recently at an interview and asked what I thought of the company’s website! I wasn’t prepared, but I had researched the company and managed to draw on some of the things I remembered.

Man and Woman Near Table
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Don’t research things that aren’t relevant to the position, so if it’s technical, look at technical stuff; if it is marketing, you know what I mean. I impressed an interviewer once because I commented on something I’d read in the media about the company; he nodded and was happy to chat about what it meant for the business and employees. I’m not saying go and write pages of notes on the company structure and their annual turnover but perhaps find something that can keep the interviewer interested.

3. Preparation

You’ve bagged the interview of your dreams, so interview preparation is critical. Check if the interview requires you to supply a passport, national insurance number or a list of references. Some do at the interview stage, so best check any emails you receive. Make sure you know where you have to be, how you will get there and what time you will arrive. Is it going to be a walk, a car journey or are you relying on public transport?

Keep a folder of relevant documents, including a copy of your recent CV. You’ll be surprised how many interviews I’ve been to, and the interviewer has a CV that was on my Linkedin profile six months earlier.

Make sure what you wear is ironed, clean and in a place that isn’t likely to get lost or dirty and don’t forget about the shoes! We all do it.

4. Arrive on time

I’m not going to lie. I’ve arrived at interviews flustered, tired and puffing. It’s not exactly professional. If you know it will take an hour by car, allow for at least an hour and a half. If you are using public transport, allow longer. I made the mistake of allowing two hours door to door. I missed my train because the station screens were down and no one could find out which platform it was leaving from. I arrived for my interview with two minutes to spare, looking flustered and like I’d run a marathon. Allowing 10 to 15 minutes is typical. I like to look around, check out my surroundings (nearest Costa) and make sure that I feel calm and ready.

5. Prepare Questions

On more than one occasion, I’ve been to an interview and failed to ask any questions, mainly due to being ill-prepared. I’ve learnt my lesson. I know to prepare at least three, and I use my research to help. I have included some examples:

Person Holding Silver Retractable Pen in White Ruled Book
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Ask about the future of the company. Do they have any major plans? If you’ve seen something on their social media that takes your interest, don’t be afraid to ask about it! It will show that you have taken an interest. As someone keen to develop my career, I like to ask about employee development and the opportunities available. It shows that you are thinking about the future. Not all employers do department tours, especially if you are one of 10 interviews that week, so ask them about your working environment; it can help you get a feel for the role if you know that it’s an open-plan or a more enclosed office. You can always tie it in with a ‘day in the life’ question.

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6. Make a good impression!

I have been to some interviews where the HR manager couldn’t have been less interested, and either didn’t offer their hand or did an awful floppy shake. I would offer my hand anyway! Keep eye contact, looking from one to the other or the person who asked the question. Smile a lot! Watch what you do with your hands; moving them around too much can make you seem unprofessional. Don’t forget to show your enthusiasm!

7. Enthusiasm!

We’ve all been there! You get that all-important interview, and you can’t shake the nerves; remember, if you show your enthusiasm, you’d be surprised how your nerves subside. Try and say focused, upbeat and concise but show how much you love ‘cars’ or ‘children’.

8. It’s about you as much as it is them!

I had an interview with a great company with an excellent reputation. I arrived early and was kept waiting for 15 minutes, but I loved the view and the surroundings. The interviewer was sick, and from the moment the interview began, she made me feel uncomfortable. She was bold, hard-faced and to the point and allowed no time for me to show her what I could do. She made me feel awkward and flustered and answered poorly. I wasn’t shocked to discover that they didn’t hire me! Employers sometimes forget that we are also interviewing them. If we feel uncomfortable or out of place during the interview, we are not inclined to say yes. I have declined a few opportunities in my time. Some okay, some pretty bad and some because it just didn’t feel right. I was made to feel like I couldn’t say no, that accepting the interview meant that I was obliged to take the job that didn’t feel right. Go with your instincts. If it feels like the commute will be too hard, the job isn’t what you want, or you didn’t connect with your manager, consider whether you won’t want to run for the hills a week into the position.

9. You become a salesperson…sell yourself!

I’m going to admit; that it’s hard to sell yourself. You get asked, ‘Tell me one thing that you do well?’ I often ramble off something that has nothing to do with the position. Try and make it relevant!

Person Holding Black Tablet Computer
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

CVs are the first time prospective employers meet us as job seekers. A proper and well-written CV stands between you and the paper shredder! Don’t shy away from mentioning an achievement. You raised £2k for charity doing a bike ride; say it! That’s a fantastic achievement. You’d be surprised to know that even the most qualified applicants can get turned down because the winning candidate was better at responding in interviews. They proved that they would be a great fit within the company.

10. Follow-Up

There is a lot of misconception concerning ‘after’ the interview. If you have an email address or social media contact, send a quick note to thank the interviewer for their time, this gives them the opportunity to A) Remember you and B) That they can give you a response via email.

You travel to an interview, take time off work, and hear nothing! Not even a ‘thank you’ for attending. If you have contact details, give them a quiet call or email and ask.

We should all be given feedback, but it doesn’t always happen.


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My Personal Favourites:

A). You didn’t tick all the boxes (what am I meant to learn from that).

B). We went with someone who we felt suited the position more (And that helps me how)

C). We wanted someone who we could train and who had little experience (You wanted to pay £4.00 an hour)

D). We appreciate you attending the interview. We felt that you were a fantastic candidate. If anything should come up in the future, we would certainly consider you; however, we felt we wanted someone with more experience (How exactly do I get experience?)

E). It was a pleasure to meet you the other day; your enthusiasm was refreshing! But after careful consideration, we will not be offering you the position; we just felt that the job required someone with more administration experience. (I have over ten years of administration experience!) It was, by far, my favourite!

I hope that if more people ask for feedback, it will eventually become the norm. So whether you are looking for your first job, an internship during your studies or a complete career change, these tips will surely help you feel more confident. 

So there you have it! My top 10 tips when attending a job interview! Do you have stories to share? Want to add anything that you’ve learnt? 

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