The ‘stolen year’ since the first national lockdown is taking its toll on working parents’ mental health as childcare and homeschooling has conflicted with work patterns, according to a report from campaigning group Raising Films.
All contributors to its Back From The Brink study said Covid-19 had directly impacted their mental health in a negative way and the group is now planning to carry out an industry-wide survey to build on its findings and establish some possible solutions.
A separate study from partners including Screen Skills and Bectu is also appealing to working mothers to share their experiences of work in lockdown. Submissions are currently open for its survey, Locked Down and Locked Out?, and for a parallel Mum to Mum mentoring scheme.
For its initial study, Raising Films spoke to 11 of the 36 freelance working parents who had undertaken its online training programme Making it Possible.
The report details the psychological and economic impact of a cascade effect caused by both day-to-day uncertainty and the exponential feedback cycle caused by mutually-impacting changes such as class/school closures and work cancellations.
It also identified ‘isolation burnout’ from remote working and a ‘huge black hole’ for freelancers excluded from the government’s SEISS support scheme on top of the irregular patterns of working and lack of benefits such as maternity or paternity leave they typically face. One likened the lockdown to an enforced maternity leave, voicing fears of similar difficulties in returning to the market once restrictions ease.
Raising Films, which is supported by the BFI and funded by the National Lottery, is supporting the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s ‘Flex From First’ campaign, which calls for flexible working for all employees from day one.
It also backs Carers’ UK’s proposal of the Career Passport Scheme, which helps employers recognise and value carers.
The group is now urging the industry to learn from the creative resilience of workers during the pandemic and explore the long-term viability of incorporating new ways of remote working without ignoring the need to reflect on and change exclusionary working practices.
Here are some choice testimonies from anonymous contributors:
"We didn’t ‘fall through the net’, we were deliberately overlooked. We both work in broadcasting and haven’t received any support. Our income disappeared in an instant."
Producer/director and editor
"Because travelling regulations meant quarantine, I refused [a job]. So I’ve been basically being a mother."
Assistant producer and producer/director
"It’s hard for freelancers. There is an isolation legacy, which might impact people’s happiness and the level of creativity that they can bring to the work."
Producer/director, edit producer and screenwriter
"As a female director, I’d just got a shot, and produced a film for BBC4 and been a director on a BBC3 series. It’s taken me a long time to get to that level. This feels like a stolen year."
Producer/director and development producer