When her local Member of Parliament recommended she contact the Council of Single Mothers and their Children, Sandra says she had never heard of the organisation. “Fifteen years later, when I look back, it feels like CSMC has played such an important role in my experience of being a single mother when the kids were smaller, and my experience of being a woman now the kids are older.”
Sandra had been chatting to her local MP on a visit to the local pre-school centre, and commented to him about the lack of dedicated services for single mothers. “Get in touch with CSMC,” he said.
Sandra was looking to connect with like-minded single mums, but when Dani connected with CSMC she was in dire need. About to be evicted and dealing with complex issues such as family violence and raising two children with diagnosed mental health issues, Dani didn’t know where to begin.
The support worker she spoke with “listened without judgement” and connected her with a specialist women’s housing service and family violence support service, as well as provided emergency relief for groceries.
CSMC didn’t hear from Dani for several years, until the day a letter arrived from her. Dani and her family were doing well; she was working, they had a rental they loved, and the kids were thriving at school. Dani enclosed a $10 note to the letter, saying CSMC had helped her when she needed it, and now she wanted to help another single mother.
It’s something we notice a lot at CSMC: once a member, always a member.
Single mums who call our Support Line are often also the loudest advocates in our campaigns to government; others who joined our members-only Facebook group, Stronger Together when their children were young, have stayed active and vocal group members on issues to do with topics other than their kids; those who have received support are often the first to put their hands up when we ask for volunteers.
A large number of our single mum members now have adult children, no longer living at home. They tell us they want to remain active in the fight for the rights and dignity of all single mothers. There’s still much to be done.
“It’s the sense of community,” says Sandra. “Over the years, I’ve joined CSMC and protested with hand-painted placards; I’ve signed petitions and written letters; I’ve consumed so much information and resources from the website; I’ve called the Support Line when I needed advice or support.
“With CSMC on my side, I don’t feel alone.”
The Single Mothers Stronger Together Facebook page, she says, has been a game changer. “I can stay in touch with all the single mums I have met along the way, and many I have never met but who I know, as single mothers, share some of the same experiences as me.”
While comments like these are encouraging for staff at CSMC, they’re not surprising. We know that the most successful single mother organisations around the world are the ones that have an active and connected membership base behind them.
That’s why we’re ramping up our membership offerings. For the past year, we have been working on developing a new website, co-designed with single mothers, which will deliver the information and resources that single mothers need, in a way that’s easy to navigate and find. We’re also developing online tools, which will help connect single mothers with each other and with us, strengthening our community and our campaigning.
CSMC’s strength is our membership base. Membership is FREE for single mothers, and members can participate as much or as little as they choose. If you haven’t yet become a member, join us – we would love to have you on board.
To those long-term and new members, thank you. Your support is what makes us stronger together.