Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Conferences and Creches

As many of you are probably aware, this weekend brings a sort of 'super' Saturday of leftie conferences. There is the LRC, Respect , Respect renewal and the Socialist Party event. Spoilt for choice, that is as long as you don't have any childcare responsibilities .

I planned to go along to the LRC event with Dave. All well and good except he needs to have his kids to stay that weekend. I e-mail to find out if there is a creche. The response I get is :

The LRC is very aware of the difficulties that some parents or guardians will face because of their childcare responsibilities, but unfortunately we just simply don’t have the resources to provide a full crèche this year.

In previous years we have looked into the possibilities of running a creche but it was found to be prohibitively expensive both in relation to our resources and demand.

There is a box on the leaflet which asks people if they need childcare assistance but you are the first to contact us this regarding this.

Thank you for raising this issue and we will gladly undertake a full investigation around the possibilities of providing a creche next year.

The LRC will be happy to reimburse you with the cost of your conference registration to assist with your childcare costs.

Hmmm. I find it strange we are the only ones who need childcare. Have people just given up asking for a creche at events. The cost to attend is £15 waged and £10 unwaged. Dave pays £8 an hour for a babysitter . A whole day at a conference would set him back nearly £80, pretty prohibitive even with the registration reimbursed. Childcare is an issue for men and women. We want men to play a full part in childcare . Dave is looking after the kids this weekend so his ex can work. If men don't share the responsibility it impacts on women. Childcare is fundamental to support women, both directly and in this case indirectly, and the left should find a way to make sure its in place at all its events.

I have done a bit of research. I have looked at the two Respect websites and can't find reference to whether either of the conferences have a creche. I have e-mailed them both to ask. If I have missed it on the website or anyone knows anything please add a comment .

I note though that the Socialist Party do provide a creche and its quite prominent on their information :

There will be full creche facilities but places must be booked in advance. Please email us details of children (i.e. age and other important information such as foods they cannot eat etc.)

Also under 'Essential Information' they have :

Special Needs
The venue is accessible but please contact us if you think there is something we may have overlooked

I did not notice this on any of the other events so well done. Slight quibble in that it could be more explicit about the access. Does it include sight and hearing needs ? But still at least it gets a mention.

I note that feminist Fightback had a creche and they charged £5 for registration . I don't know what they charged for the creche but am asking around. So if they could do it why can't the LRC. Why aren't people asking for one. Is childcare no longer an issue ? I don't think that is the case. Why isn't this an issue for the left. Oh and why I'm having a gripe , why isn't disability either.

There will be a women's caucus at the LRC. I hope they will take this issue up.I plan to.

And while I'm doing that Dave will be reading Trotsky to his daughters,bless.


Please keep the comments coming as to which groups have a creche at events. Seems some are good at this and others pretty crap. I think the issue of cost does not wash as some groups do it. Its not good enough to say its too expensive !
Seems at least two people will not be at the event because of lack of a creche and others who don't even bother asking anymore. I will also link it to the wider issue of access to events .
This is not just an LRC issue but I will raise it at the Women's Network meeting at the LRC conference and suggest a left wide campaign on it.

Another update

As a result of a bit of naming and shaming on this blog, and MarshaJane's powers of persuasion, the LRC has agreed to reimburse the full childcare costs (within what is reasonable, £80 ish ) for people needing it. They will properly look into the issue for next year.