This week we speak to Eleanor Willock, founder of The Bristol Parent
The Bristol Parent is a lifestyle website for people who happen to be parents and are looking for things to do with and without their children; one of my most popular early posts was called ‘Seven places in Bristol to feed your baby with a view’. When you become a parent for the first time you tend to put the baby at the centre of your social life and I found that made me intensely miserable. It was really difficult to meet people you actually wanted to spend time with if you were constantly flitting from baby massage to rhyme time to everything else, all for a small creature that doesn’t really have any preference other than to be stimulated and be with you.
I was inspired by Bring Your Own Baby Choir, where we sing songs we enjoy singing and the kids are just there. It’s where I met my bestest mum friend, because we were all interested in the same thing rather than ensuring our kids were having the time of their lives.
The fact our Bristol Working Parents Survey drew nearly 800 responses is testament to how much parents care about what changes can be made. Results said 50% want more flexible working, with 8% having already left jobs because they didn’t feel supported – that’s 80 times Bristol employers have lost good people.
There are many people in the city doing good stuff, like Caboodle, which offers flexible office space with a crèche at Windmill Hill City Farm. I say to everyone, whether parents or not, you have the legal right to ask your company for flexible working; you have the right to put your case. If anything embodies Bristol as a city for parenting, it’s things like the Central Library – totally children-focused, with people coming from miles away for things like Drag Queen Story Time. Bristol is great for kids because it’s full of people who are, in general, interested in their environment. When there are marches for women’s rights, education, anything that affects people’s future, you will see a lot of involved parents – that’s a really good marker.