Project information

Waving not drowning - Working On campaign

Parents of disabled children need to work, and most want to. But health services, social services and schools expect an ever-present parent at home. It can be impossible to hold down a job. The Working On campaign will change attitudes and improve opportunities at work and outside.

January 2014 - December 2016

Charity information

Working Families

Working Families logo
  • Need


    It costs about three times as much to raise a disabled child as a non-disabled child, meaning families with disabled children are often among the poorest. Many parents want to engage in paid work to increase their income, their personal satisfaction and to set an example to their children. However, parents of disabled children need flexibility, appropriate childcare and recognition of their problems by employers, health and social services, and schools.


    We will campaign for action by Government, by employers and by service providers to acknowledge that parents of disabled children CAN and DO want to work alongside caring for their children. We need measures to address the availability and affordability of suitable childcare and to increase the flexibility of work options. Parents need support at the point of diagnosis or crisis to enable them to remain in work. it is clear that ‘staying put’ is a more realistic option than 'getting back'.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Create change so that parents of disabled children CAN work and be supported to remain employed


    » Raise awareness of difficulties faced by parents of disabled children in combining work and care
    » Encourage changes in childcare provision, employment practice and support services to enable parents to work and care
    » Recruit key partners and policy makers to champion the needs of parents of disabled children who work or wish to work

    First hand experience reported by parents, via our regular parent surveys, and via the Waving not Drowning network newsletter and calls.

  • Impact


    In the long term, we hope that carers and parents of disabled children will get, and stay in, paid work. We hope that the barriers that are currently in their way will be broken and that they are supported and encourage to enter into the labour market. The success of this will be demonstrated by more parents and carers of disabled children entering the workforce and through positive feedback.


    Change like this takes a long time, and needs support from leaders, opinion formers, those who provide services to families and from employers. We have to approach it in achievable chunks. Our first focus is on 'adjustment leave" - a period of time away from work to enable a family to adjust to a child's diagnosis. We are already gathering support from employers, other charities working with families, and from policy makers. We have a careful step by step plan for this campaign.


    Via newsletters, our website and personal feedback where appropriate.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £12,000 staff costs contribution to campaign, media and research posts
      £4,000 communications blog, website, newsletter
      £4,000 running costs office costs, management
  • Background


    UK wide


    Parents of disabled children, disabled children and their siblings

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Working Families is still the only charity helping parents and carers with responsibility for disabled children to stay in or seek work. The Waving not drowning network was set up in 1996 and has over 2,000 members.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sarah Jackson