I thought it was about time I shared a bit more about me and why I started this campaign. I’ve shared on a earlier blog post what ‘A Mother Place Crosby‘ is all about: empowering, supporting and championing local mums. But what I didn’t tell you is why I started this in the first place and how I got to where I am today.
For the past 6 months I have been studying with Digital Mums to retrain to become a freelance social media manager. As part of the training we have to run a real live campaign in our local area and so ‘A Mother Place Crosby‘ was born. I’d always felt since moving back to Crosby there wasn’t much for local mums and so the course gave me the opportunity to put that right.
But how did I get to be a Digital Mum.
This is my journey…
I’m Louise, married to Chris, we have a 3 year old son James and we live in Waterloo. I grew up in Crosby before heading off to Newcastle University to study Food and Human Nutrition.
Randomly Chris & I went to the same primary school in Crosby and both graduated from Newcastle in the same year but we didn’t know each other! We met 10 years ago in the car park of the Birkey Pub! Classy!
After graduation I was all set to return to London, having spent part of my degree there but fate had a different plan. My lovely mum Ann was diagnosed with terminal cancer and so there simply was no decision to make anymore. I returned home to spend precious time with her, my Dad John and my 2 younger sisters Clare and Sarah. Sadly she died back in 2003 when I was 23. Her death taught us that life is short and so you have to live a life you love, that’s all that really matters at the end.
Just before she died I started working for a Liverpool based international company. I started in sales covering every hospital north of Birmingham up to Scotland… oh and the whole of Ireland! I became an expert in the M6 & M62!
After 6 years on the road I moved into the marketing team. I loved my job and the company. I was the walking, talking advert for it. I got to travel the world to far flung places including Tokyo, Kuwait, the USA and even got to watch the sun set behind the Taj Mahal.
Then I went on maternity leave to have James.
When I returned I was told there was a “restructure” and I would now have to report to a new line manager who had been my equal prior to maternity leave. His role hadn’t changed. I had been demoted.
I challenged it but got shut down by HR saying it was definitely not maternity discrimination but a restructure. After almost 12 months off and feeling vulnerable as all new mums do, I accepted it and tried to make the best of a bad situation.
Things unfortunately continued to get worse. It had, sadly become a very toxic place to work. It caused me to suffer full blown unable to breathe panic attacks which required medication and being signed off work.
Sadly also during this time I suffered a miscarriage… no doubt due to the extreme stress and medication!
At this point I sought legal advice from an employment lawyer who told me I had been subjected to one of the most blatant cases of maternity discrimination he’d ever come across.
A fire was lit. I had to leave. Taking my darling mums dying words of “promise me girls, don’t have any regrets in life” along with Chris & my family’s support I eventually handed my notice in and left in February 2018 after 15 years (12 of which were brilliant I must say).
I had no idea what I was going to do at first I just knew I couldn’t stay any longer. So I took the biggest leap of faith and walked away knowing that with my extensive experience in international sales and marketing I’d find something, somewhere… surely?!
Why have I just shared that with you all you may ask?
1. After speaking with lots of you throughout the past 6 months it’s apparent that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is rife. Indeed latest figures show 54, 000 of us are subjected to it each year!! That is simply a disgrace in 2018. I knew what happened to me wasn’t right, I challenged it but when you’re shut down by HR you don’t think you can question it further. I wish I had spoken to the lawyer earlier (indeed his words were “an open and shut slam dunk case”).
And so in sharing my story of maternity discrimination I hope it encourages any other mums who may be going through something similar to know the law is on your side.
Seek legal advice straight away, even if you’re not sure if what’s happening is right or not. On hearing my story a friend did this recently and discovered that she was now in fact part of the statistic and had joined the other 53,999 of us! I’m pleased to say she has successfully challenged her employer with help from the amazing team at Pregnant Then Screwed.
I’ve put some links at the bottom on where you can get free advice and support. Sadly you currently only have 3 months less 1 day to make any claim so don’t put it off like I did!
2. Hearing how I hit rock bottom makes the best bit of this story… finding Digital Mums and that journey over the past 6 months all the more sweeter.
So what is this Digital Mums?
Set up in 2013 by 2 amazing ladies Niki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler it is an online education training platform that up-skills mothers, of any background, with digital skills they can take forward into a new truly flexible freelance career; a career they can fit around school pick ups and holidays… #workthatworks they call it.
It almost sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? I’ll be honest that’s exactly what I thought when I first heard about them.
Digital Mums was recommended to me by another mum. It was a bit of a light bulb moment when I started reading more about them. It felt like the perfect fit… Taking all my sales and marketing experience and repackaging it (& me) into a future freelance digital career.
But I can tell you now as I reach the end it’s sooooo much more than just an online training course!
Digital Mums has chewed me up and spat me out 6 months later more confident, more energized, more focused, more driven, more passionate, more determined. Quite simply it picked me up after one of the worst years of my life and saved me. It gave me my voice back.
I’m not going to sugar coat the course and say it’s the most amazing thing out there. There are some flaws with it. The course doesn’t profess to be cutting edge with the digital content. Parts of it are out-dated… but when social media literally changes overnight…. and even launches new things with no warning… think IGTV from Instagram!! Then it’s completely understandable that some of the content is out of date but importantly the principles the lessons teach remain.
No digital course is ever going to be bullet proof. Choosing a career in digital is choosing a life of continual learning. And that in itself is refreshing especially if you’ve been stuck in a dead end job feeling as though a little part of your soul dies every day you’re there!
There are lots of lessons and tutorials on social advertising, analytics and scheduling but what the course really does is focus on the method, the strategy and the reasoning behind running a successful campaign. This is what you need going forward when working with a client.
It’s also intense. It starts off slow and you think this is easy, you’ve got loads of time on your hands, you’re meeting friends for lunch then wham! They take it up about 10 gears and you disappear down various internet rabbit holes for the next 5 months.
But best of all through Digital Mums I’ve discovered an amazing community of other fabulous women, all with their own story to tell.
We look out for each other, we support each other, we get frustrated together about the constantly changing digital environment and when Twitter or Facebook analytics don’t work properly leaving you to manually add up likes, comments and retweets!
We’ve all lived in dirty houses for the past 6 months as there has been no time to clean or do the laundry etc. (A few husbands may have also been hurt during the process for asking where their clean socks are!)
We’ve all had frustrated partners and kids moan at us that we’re ALWAYS on our phones / laptops / iPad’s and yet we tell them they can’t just watch a screen all day!
Our friends have been frustrated with us for the unanswered whats app and Facebook messages and are starting to wonder what’s happened to us and if we’re even still speaking to them!
We’ve all been forced out of our comfort zones and we’ve learn’t a lot about ourselves and the amazing communities we live in. We’ve all met some fantastic people along the way and formed new friendships within our local communities.
But most of all there’s been a LOT of laughter…. and a LOT of What’s app messages!
And although I’ve yet to meet the rest of my ‘Digi D@mes’ peer group IRL (we’re planning an autumn meet up) I know I’ve made life long friends…. plus I have a new claim to fame out of it as one of our group is the voice of Firefighter Ellie Phillips and Bella Lasagna in Fireman Sam! James now excitedly points out “Mummy’s friends” on the TV every time it’s on!
All in all Digital Mums has been a very liberating, empowering and rewarding experience.
So what’s next…
We’ll be taking a little well earned break from A Mother Place Crosby. But we will be continuing with the campaign after the training is complete. I’ve had too much fun with it and I’ve met some amazing local people through it. It’s forced me out into our fabulous community and made me love why we live in this little corner of the world even more than before.
Our #InspirationalMama series will continue but we may/probably will open up the series to include anyone local we think is inspirational too.
Guest Bloggers – have you ever wanted to share a story, share your journey, share the reason behind your business? If so then do get in touch as we’d love to feature more stories from other people on ‘A Mother Place Crosby‘.
As for me… I’m off to drink a substantial quantity of wine to celebrate getting to the end of the course and reconnect with friends and family whom I feel like I’ve ignored for the past 6 months (apologies guys if you’re reading this!). I need to write my final report, clean the house, catch up on laundry… oh and set up my new freelance social media management business… Indigo Social
Shameless plug time…. if you or anyone you know needs a social media manager then please do get in touch with me at Indigo Social to find out what I can do to help local businesses.
Thank you to everyone for coming along with me on this journey for the past 6 months and to all the amazing mamas who’ve shared their stories with me.
This is just the beginning and there’s lots of exiting things to come!
See you soon.
Pregnant then Screwed was set up by Joeli after she herself suffered pregnancy discrimination. She’s doing some AMAZING work in challenging government to change the way employers are treating parents.
Pregnant then Screwed is as a safe space for mothers to tell their stories of pregnancy or maternity discrimination and to receive the support and protection they need.
They offer a free legal advice line (0161 930 5300), flexible working helpline (07960113252), or you can apply for a mentor to support you through an employment tribunal if you are headed down that road.
For more information check out their website here: Pregnant Then Screwed
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.
For more information check out their website here: Acas
If you are interested in finding #workthatworks for yourself and want more information on the courses Digital Mums offer then check out their website here: Digital Mums
Do also feel free to drop me a line with any questions you might have about studying with DM too. I’m more than happy to chat.
Follow ‘A Mother Place Crosby‘ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for our #InspirationalMama stories, #SanitySavingSuggestions with and without the mini humans in tow and much more!