Threat of redundancy changed my life for the better

Threat of redundancy changed my life for the better

Redundancy – just the word can strike fear into the heart of everyone who relies on their income to pay their bills each month.

But it’s more than the threat of financial ruin – for many people their “steady” job is part of their identity and losing that security really pulls the rug out from under their feet and leaves them reeling.

Just over three years ago now, I was in that very position. I was happily working as deputy news editor at the local newspapers in my home town when the threat of a major restructure loomed.

But, as it turned out, taking voluntary redundancy was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

My story was recently featured in an article in Reader’s Digest along with two other women who believe redundancy changed their lives for their better.

This is just my part of it, but you can find the complete article here.

Tracey Sweetland was working as a deputy news editor at her local papers, the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian when she discovered redundancies were on the cards. Tracey explains, “I was quite happy there and enjoying the job, so I had no plans to leave.”  

Fate had other ideas. “I was told that the role of deputy news editor was likely to be lost as part of the restructure, but that I would have the opportunity to apply for one of a reduced number of reporters jobs,” she says. “I was fairly confident I would get one of those reporter roles, but I enjoyed the more varied role I was currently doing, so didn’t relish the idea of returning to a straightforward reporting role.”

“I was very concerned about what other options were available to me if I took voluntary redundancy. I am a single mum of two young children and couldn’t contemplate a long commute to work which would impact on my childcare arrangements, so I was restricted to a small geographical area and opportunities for people with my skill set are few and far between locally.”

I am a single mum of two young children. Opportunities for people with my skill set are few and far between locally

Unconvinced by the potential roles on offer, Tracey took voluntary redundancy. While looking into her options, a conversation with the paper’s news editor, who was also taking voluntary redundancy, triggered the start of a plan to set up their own paper. “It almost started out as a joke but the more we thought about it and toyed with it, the more it seemed like a realistic suggestion,” she says. “We felt that we had access to the right team to make the project a success and we felt there was capacity in the town for another newspaper.”

And so they set the wheels in motion. “It was obviously absolutely terrifying, particularly as we had to press ahead and put things in place in secret while we were still working at the papers and waiting to be approved for voluntary redundancy. But it was a very exciting and busy time and things moved quickly.”

Their redundancies were approved and Tracey, along with three former colleagues, became partners in their own paper – Spalding and South Holland Voice. “I think without redundancy we would have been too afraid to turn our backs on a guaranteed monthly salary to quit our jobs and give it a go. The voluntary redundancy payments we received also enabled us to invest in getting the business started – we would probably not have been in a position to do that otherwise.”

International Women’s Day: We all need to Be Bold for Change today.

International Women’s Day: We all need to Be Bold for Change today.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that International Women’s Day was not even really on my radar until this morning, but I’m pleased to see that it’s being treated as a big deal in the media everywhere.

In 2017 we have come so far in terms of equality for women, but even in the UK – where we have a female prime minister and women are breaking through that glass ceiling every day – there is still so much to do.

The theme of this year’s Women’s Day is Be Bold. It’s a good message and one we could all benefit from taking on board as part of a larger movement for women and in our own lives.

Be Bold.

It means, sometimes feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It means standing up for what you believe to be right, even when you are faced with a wall of opposition. It’s about tackling inequality wherever it occurs – not just for women but for everyone.

I am lucky. Three years ago I set up my own business with three partners – two female, one male – and we are all equal in every way. Throughout our company, each member of staff’s salary is based on their skill and experience – not what they have in their pants!

Mums – and dads – among our team are able and even encouraged to attend school plays and parents’ evenings. We want to empower our women to be able to have a career and a family life.

Unfortunately, it’s not the same everywhere and that needs to change. Women need to start being bold and making a noise about what is not working for them and calling for change.

If we are in positions of power, us women need to support those below us. We need to fight their corner and bring about those changes.

Women should be encouraged to follow their dreams, step outside of the “norm” and not be afraid to fail. If they do, they should be supported to dust themselves off and come back fighting.

As mums, it is about time women were not made to feel guilty for their choices – whether that’s working full time or staying at home. They should be free to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be, without prejudice.

I work full time, pursuing my dream of growing a successful business. I’m not doing it to just pay the bills. I want to have something I feel proud of and I want to show my two daughters that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

I want them to see what I am achieving and be inspired to reach out for their own dreams and follow their own path – despite the naysayers if necessary.

I want them to reach for the stars. I want them to believe there are no limits to what women can achieve – and most of all I want it to be true that there are no limits to what women can achieve, particularly limits imposed just because they are women.

I want my daughters to know that the way they look does not reflect who they are. Looking “feminine”, if that’s how they choose to present themselves, does not mean they should not be taken seriously. Nor should they be forced to look “girly” to fit in with someone else’s idea of what they should be. They should be allowed to be who they are. This constant judging of women by how “perfect” they look has got to stop. I believe it is one of the biggest barriers our daughters face in being truly empowered and “equal”.

We need to give them the tools to lead the next “bold” generation of women. We need to give them the self belief to stand up to inequality wherever they find it. As women, we need to be fearless and lead by example now to make sure our daughters and sons do not perpetuate the “boys are superior to girls” mentality. As mothers we need to bring up our sons up the right way too.

And finally it’s time to ditch the bitch. Women need to stop fighting among themselves and instead support each, advocate for each and celebrate each other’s successes. A divided army will never win the battle. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder and, as one, break down the remaining barriers to equality.

One individual day a year – however well supported – will not change the world. But an army of “individuals” can. I’m making a pledge today to BE BOLD. For me, for women, but most importantly for my daughters. Will you?

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