I love protests. It is an incredibly powerful and amazing experience to be out on the streets with other women being loud and vocal and taking up the very space The Patriarchy denies women. The #SpucOff protest today in Edinburgh [and other cities across the UK] was an incredible, if cold, experience. So many beautiful women standing up for the rights of other women. It was a privilege standing with these women in support of free and legal access to abortion for all women.

SPUC were out with their usual coterie of offensive images and factually incorrect posters about abortion but the sign that fucked me off the most was: “Women Need Love Not Abortions”. The unbelievably hypocrisy of this from a group who aren’t only anti-abortion but also against sex education, birth control, and gay marriage was breath-taking. Any organisation which is against sex education and birth control isn’t about “loving” women. Nor do they give a shit about the “children” they are supposedly saving through the banning of abortion.

If they did “love” women, they would be on the streets protesting about:
  • poverty since we all know the vast majority of people living in poverty are elderly women and single mothers 
  • welfare reform which predominantly effects women especially those with children 
  • cuts to rape crisis services 
  • cuts to domestic violence services since children who witness domestic violence against their mothers are victims of abuse themselves. 
  • cuts to jobs in the public sector which effect mostly women and, in consequence, push their children further into poverty. 

And, they wouldn’t be protesting against birth control because birth control is the one thing which does have an immediate effect on poverty and women’s health.

Preventing women from accessing birth control does not “save” unborn children. It harms women. It harms children.

I am pro-choice because I believe all women have the right to control their own bodies and the right to make personal choices about how many children they want to have. Denying women this choice is misogyny; pure and simple.

Petition to scrap the requirement for a second doctor’s signature when seeking abortion in the UK mainland

Boycotting Lush for Misogynistic Nincompoopery

So Lush has joined the ranks of PETA in its desperate attempt to be “trendy” and “cool” by using the abuse of women to make a political point about animal testing. The reason I shop at Lush is because of their stances on animal testing and environmentally friendly materials and packaging. I suspect most of their customer base shops with them for similar reasons. The reason I don’t support PETA is because of their tedious, dull, misogynistic and utterly hypocritical marketing strategies. Using women’s bodies to make a political point is hardly a new gimmick nor is it one requiring much intellectual stimulation. It’s the kind of dull-witted shit I expect from sexist bucketheads who lack both emotional literacy and critical thinking skills. PETA are beyond hope [as are their collection of dumb-arse celebrity endorsers who think violence against women is “art”].

I expect more from Lush. I expect them to be more intelligent, thoughtful and thought-provoking in their marketing campaigns. I don’t expect them to regurgitate the dull-witted shit others depend on because they aren’t capable of independent thought. I won’t link the video of their “performance art to raise awareness of animal testing” because it breaks my personal rules on pornography and I certainly can’t beat the criticism of the “performance art” by F-Word UK or Stavvers’ critique but I can add my voice to the list of customers who will be boycotting Lush until they remove the video from the website and make a proper, formal apology taking full responsibility for their fuckwittery. That “oh we thought we were edgy and thought-provoking” bullshit cuts no ice here.

As Laura Woodhouse says in her blog for F-Word UK: “Lush’s actions are crass, insensitive and actually damage many of the people who care about the issues they are trying to raise. As one of them, I am hugely disappointed in the company, and will never be shopping there again.”


This is somewhat of an experiment in flipping the gendered construction of news media wherein male voices and experiences are privileged as “normal” and that of women either erased or dismissed. I decided on it today having finished reading Helena Kennedy’s brilliant Eve Was Framed: Women and British Justice which demonstrates just how much women are othered. I want to explore getting my news mainly from women’s organisations, female journalists and female bloggers and see how difficult it is to erase the voices of men; since it is very easy to silence women’s voices in the media.

Interestingly, I had thought I was following only a few men on twitter but I actually deleted 135 different men from Jon Snow at Channel 4 News to Chuck D and a number of male comedians I don’t actually like. I also deleted a number of animals which, I think, proves that I need to pay more attention to who I chose to follow. I was actually quite shocked at the number of men I was following because I was under the impression that I was mostly following the women of MN and women writers.

I had already expanded my #readingonlybookswrittenbywomen policy into only buying music written and/or produced by women. This started when I tried to make an International Women’s Day playlist for my teenager as a present. Turns out, I listen to a lot of music written, performed and produced by men. I turned to MN for help, which, in retrospect, has not been good for my credit card. It did, however, spawn a thread by InmaculadaConcepcion celebrating women’s music. I’d go for listening to only music written, performed and/or produced by women but I’m rather attached to the Red Hot Chili Peppers which is, I know, deeply unfeminist but I think I am allowed one vice and I am choosing them.

So, this is the experiment: reading not only fiction written by women but ensuring that I get most of my news, political analysis and social awareness from women. In this, I have to suggest the brilliant Women Under Siege Project who are currently mapping the sexualised violence experienced by women in conflict zones: violence that is frequently erased from mainstream media sources.

I’m looking for any and all suggestions of women to follow!

Terri White’s Faux Mea Culpa for Playing the Handmaiden Game

This weekend saw an interesting array of anti-feminist articles written by women. I’ve already complained about Caitlin Moran’s complete lack of understanding about feminism as a political theory [despite professing to be one]. That article was utter twaddle. Then I came across Terri White’s faux mea culpa for her work at Nuts magazine and her part in the massive increase in pornographer. White disingenuously suggests she built her career off other women’s breasts. She did not. She built her career off the pornographication and abuse of other women.

It starts with this:

As the sound of jazz filled the air in the office that night I diligently got on with the task at hand. It was slow. It was laborious. It was tedious. It was decapitating topless women. I was associate editor on the best-selling men’s weekly magazine Nuts and tomorrow was the launch of Assess My Breasts – an online brand extension inviting women to upload pictures of themselves (or rather, their breasts) to be rated out of 10. But first, before we went live, I had to populate it; ensuring it launched with a 100-boob bang rather than a no-boob whimper. Faces were a no-no – part of the “appeal” was anonymity so the girls would feel comfortable with being publicly graded. And so, there I was at 9pm, attempting a mass head-chopping on pictures we kept on file and had sought permission to upload.

Decapitationgate was the peak of the “real girl” phenomenon in men’s magazines – ordinary girls, in ordinary situations, pictured in their underwear. A phenomenon we at Nuts had happened upon several months before and one that had made the magazine a huge success. And along with it, a success of the people who worked on it.

Seriously, where do you even start unpacking that? White worked on a project which reduced women to their breasts (apparently, you weren’t allowed to use the word tits, as if that made the blindest bit of difference) and allowed men to rank them. Let’s be honest with this: they were ranking them for fuckability and nothing else. Any pretence at a different meaning is just intellectual dishonesty masquerading as “fun”.

However, White does attempt a half-hearted attempt to understand the extent of the damage that the lad’s mags made:

While lads’ mags alone didn’t create this sexualised culture, they responded to it and reinforced it, helping it grow into a mass-market monster wearing a glossy mask of normality. We told a generation of young men that a woman’s value lay in the pertness of her breasts and willingness to flash in a public place before going home to have sex. The dirty kind. We told a generation of young women that it wasn’t necessary to get an education or build a career to improve your life. Just be willing to bare your breasts and look what you could win! A pot of gold! And a footballer! And I was a part of that for entirely selfish reasons. I tossed any concerns out of the window in favour of the feel of the monthly payslip and the warm glow of success.

It does lack some serious political analysis but as a concluding paragraph would have at least been an attempt at taking some personal responsibility. Instead, White decides to go for this:

But I still feel awkward at the thought of telling women that they should not and could not participate in this culture. The dominant voices in this debate are still those from the middle class, who can only imagine what it’s like to walk in these women’s 5in heels. I remember what it’s like to feel that opportunities just don’t exist for your kind and that when they come along you need to cling on for dear life. And maybe, just maybe, some of the women who claim to do it and enjoy it really do mean it.

Would I do it all again knowing what I know now? No. We did too much damage. While the magazines themselves may be in decline, the culture they helped to create can still be seen in towns and cities all around the UK – from the Saturday-night porny perspex heels to the casual DIY sex tapes and still-held hopes for fast fame. And, in retrospect, I could have built a career and achieved the financial security I hankered for without my Nuts years and without using other women’s breasts as my stepping stone to get there.

Let’s be honest here. This isn’t really a mea culpa for her participation in an industry which deliberately and maliciously harms women and creates a reduction construction of female sexuality which effectively erases it out of existence. It’s a “it’s not my fault. I didn’t have any choice but anyways the women who did bare their breasts totally had the choice not too” argument favoured by liberal, so-called “sex positive” feminists [that would be sex positive if you think turning over control of human sexuality to Hugh Hefner was a good plan. The term is about as sensible as calling the anti-choice wingnuts in the abortion debate “pro-life” when its patently obvious they don’t give a flying fuck about children since they are the same asshats which vote against universal health care, welfare and education in favour of building more bombs].

So, I’m obviously angry here but its a righteous anger. I want my children to grow up and have healthy sexual experiences with people who love them. I do not want my girls growing up in a society that only celebrates the “accomplishments” of women who have breast implants and sex tapes because those aren’t accomplishments. They are the continuing victimisation and degradation of women. White might be feeling some middle class guilt at exploiting young women but not enough to actually take responsibility for it.

And, frankly, the argument that all the men she worked with were “loving, family men” is laughable. It really is. That’s what people say about their next door neighbour who turns out to be a serial rapist, or the violent alcoholic from up the road who kills his wife or the drunk driver. Women say it because we are expected to play nice and never, ever critique men’s roles in propagating and encouraging misogyny. We just get to blame other women. I call bullshit.

Terri White got a financial reward for her participation in perpetuating misogyny; a misogyny that required women at the forefront to prevent those very accusations. White, Lili Harges, Indira Das-Gupta, and Sali Hughes profited off and assisted in the dramatic increase in the pornographication of young women’s sexuality. Sometimes, all we need to hear is: I’m sorry. I fucked up. Feminists know how hard it is to succeed in our Capitalist-Patriarchy which punishes any woman who puts her head above the parapet but false mea culpas are as damaging as continuing to profit from misogyny.

We all know its a game. Let’s just be more honest about playing it.

We Believe You Redux

In light of the recent conviction of Sheffield footballer Ched Evans for rape, and the following avalanche of misogynistic bullshit on twitter by people who are clearly too stupid to be allowed to have sex if they can’t understand the fairly basic legal concept of “consent”, I’m reblogging the Mumsnet We Believe You campaign against rape myths.

The blogosphere is full of discussions of this case; all far more eloquent than I but these myths need to be challenged. When we play nice, the misogynists win.

We need to be louder and angrier than the misogynists we’re battling so that all rape victims get the justice they deserve.

We Believe You – rape myths we’re challenging

we believe youThere are so many myths about rape – about what it is, about who does it, and whom it happens to. Consciously or not, many people in Britain believe these myths, and they’re reflected in the media, and in the criminal justice system.
These myths discourage women from coming forward when they’ve been raped. They know that, unless they were raped in very specific – and statistically rare – circumstances, they will face disbelief. They may fear that they will themselves be put on trial – for their behaviour, their sexual history, their previous relationship with their abuser.
They may fear that they will themselves be put on trial – for their behaviour, their sexual history, their previous relationship with their abuser. So join us in spreading the word on Twitter #webelieveyou and sharing your experiences #ididnotreport
MYTH: Women are most likely to be raped by a stranger, outside, in dark alleyways
REALITY: More than 80% of women who are raped know their attacker(1); 53% of perpetrators of serious sexual assaults are current partners or ex-partners.(2)
In fact, over two-thirds of rapes take place in the victim’s home, the suspect’s home or the victim/suspect’s shared home(3). This myth can mean that women who are raped in these circumstances don’t identify their experience as rape, and therefore don’t report it.

It also puts blames the victim, and limits women’s freedom of movement by implying that rape can be prevented by avoiding certain places.

MYTH BUSTED! By our bloggers AlreetHinny and LittleMeFrance
MYTH: Women provoke rape by their appearance or their behaviour
It’s never your fault.  No woman ‘asks to be raped’ or ‘deserves what she gets’ – only the rapist is responsible for the rape.
REALITY: Dressing attractively, or flirting, is never an invitation to rape. Rape is not a ‘crime of passion’ – it is an expression of power and control.
No woman ‘asks to be raped’ or ‘deserves what she gets’ – only the rapist is responsible for the rape.  Rape happens to all types of women, from the very young to the very old – physical appearance is irrelevant.

There is no ‘typical rape victim’. There is only one common factor in all rapes, and that is the rapist.

MYTH BUSTED! By our blogger DillyTante
MYTH: If a woman didn’t struggle, wasn’t injured, or didn’t report immediately – she wasn’t raped
REALITY: Victims may cooperate with the rapist to save their lives; or they may be paralysed by fear. Following rape, many victims experience shock; this can make them seem ‘unnaturally calm’.
Victims are often legitimately afraid of being killed or seriously injured; the rapist may have threatened further harm – or harm to family members – if they resist. The victim’s perception of danger will influence their behaviour.
Victims may experience shame, shock, or denial, which might mean they do not report the rape for some time. The Court of Appeal has ruled that a late complaint does not mean that it’s a false complaint.(4)
MYTH BUSTED! By guest blogger and journalist Bidisha
MYTH: Women who get drunk or take drugs shouldn’t be surprised if they are raped or sexually assaulted
REALITY: Being vulnerable does not imply consent. If a woman is drunk, drugged or unconscious, she is not able to consent to sex(5).
Being vulnerable does not imply consent. If a woman is drunk, drugged or unconscious, she is not able to consent to sex.
If a woman has consumed alcohol (fewer than four in 10 cases), it is the man’s responsibility to ensure that the victim has given, or is capable of giving, consent. If he does not do so, he is committing rape.

Simlilarly, a woman is not to blame if she drinks alcohol and is raped. Women have the same right to consume alcohol as men.

MYTH BUSTED! By our blogger Inside the Wendy House

MYTH: Women often lie about rape, and police officers and jurors should bear this in mind
REALITY:  There is no research evidence that false allegations are more common than for many other crimes. 
Home Office research indicates that between 3-8% of initial allegations are false, but that the lower figure is likely to be most accurate.(6)
Far from being widespread, malicious accusations are rare. A much greater problem in the criminal justice system is the under-reporting of rape – the government estimates that 89% of rapes are never reported to the police at all.(7)
In addition, only 5.3% of rapes reported to the police end in a conviction for rape – the lowest rate of any country in Europe, except for Ireland.(8)
MYTH: It’s not rape if a woman has consented to some sexual intimacy, or has previously had sex with many partners
REALITY: A woman can withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity. Having many previous sexual partners does not imply generalised consent to sex.
A woman has a right to change her mind about having sex at any time during sexual contact. If a sexual partner does not stop at this point, it is sexual assault. All men are capable of stopping sexual activity at any point.

Likewise, having previously consented to sex with other partners does not imply consent to all partners. Women involved in prostitution are as capable of being raped as other women.

BUSTED! by Brian Paddick, London Lib Dem Mayoral candidate and former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police
MYTH: Rape can’t take place in an ongoing relationship
Previous consent to sex does not imply ongoing consent, and sex without consent is rape.
REALITY: Previous consent to sex does not imply ongoing consent, and sex without consent is rape. It makes no difference whether the aggressor is a woman’s husband or partner, or a complete stranger – 22% of rapes are committed by partners or ex-partners.
It’s irrelevant whether or not a person is in a relationship with someone or has had sex with them previously. Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, told a court to approach rape within a relationship, including marriage, as “no less serious than rape by a stranger”.

Consent must be given every time two people engage in sexual contact. Sex without consent is rape.

BUSTED! By Mumsnetter Mme Lindor

MYTH: Some rapes aren’t ‘serious’ rapes
REALITY: All rape is a violation, whether or not the rapist is a stranger, or uses violence. 

All rapes are serious; some rapes and sexual assaults are compounded by other crimes, such as further violence, kidnapping or abuse, which will add to the woman’s trauma.

Acquaintance rape survivors may feel particularly vulnerable, since they have found that even people they trusted may hurt them. They may often have to face their assailants after the rapes, causing additional distress, fear and humiliation. They also tend to view themselves more negatively, and suffer more serious psychological problems than other victims(9).

    Why Caitlin Moran is wrong on the Samantha Bricks "saga"

    I’ve already blogged about my feelings on the furor over Samantha Brick’s articles in the Daily Mail a few weeks ago. I believe the Daily Mail set her up for a serious kicking because of the misogyny inherent in their organisation. They are the best selling newspaper in the UK because they feed on the very insecurities they encourage in their readers. They are vile.

    I was shocked to see Caitlin Moran’s article in the Times today suggesting that the reaction Bricks got was nothing to do with Feminism. I would have thought it was patently obvious that insulting a woman for “not being as attractive as she thinks she is” is pretty much the essence of anti-feminist discourse. The Patriarchy requires women to police other women’s behaviour in order to survive. Buying into the discourse around Brick’s article just reinforces the Patriarchal structures which blame women for just not being fuckable enough: that would be 21 and malnourished.

    Moran is a liberal Feminist and I generally disagree with her on a number of political issues, however this column just disappointed me with its lack of political analysis. Moran suggests that those of us who think this is a Feminist issue are deluded and that men are derided in a similar manner to women in these instances and that Brick was just acting like a “div”. Frankly, I think that’s twaddle:

    I think we all knew this, really. It’s a Human Behaviour Check Yo’Self 101 not to go around quacking about how great you are, given that it’s wholly self-defeating. People who say, “I’m clever” tend to be thick, people who say, “I’m mad, me!” usually work in accounts and people who say they’re beautiful tend to be fairly average, but apt to spend a lot of money on trouser suits and highlights. 

    So, yes: let us be clear. There is a world of difference between “women doing something” and “it being a matter for feminism”. Lest we forget, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of social, sexual and political equality to men”. It’s got nothing to do with a Daily Mail journalist on a deadline pointing to her arse and saying, “See this? It’s hawt.”

    Feminism is about liberating women from oppression; an oppression reinforced by a Patriarchy that punishes women for not thinking they are ugly, pathetic and stupid. Any woman who suggests she might actually be anything but stupid is, therefore, asking to be humiliated and belittled.

    As for the last part of her article where Moran suggests two subject which aren’t Feminist, well, I’m going to suggest she’s been drinking the Handmaiden Communion Wine.

    1) Beauty routines. There’s been a spate of pieces recently questioning whether a true feminist can wax her legs, thread her eyebrows or wear make-up. While the beauty industry is, as all multibillion-dollar industries tend to be, built on trying to encourage profligate consumerist behaviour through unrealistic imagery, there’s nothing inherently un-feminist about wanting to muck around with how you look. How can there be? If there were then, theoretically, feminists wouldn’t be able to dress up at Hallowe’en, or go to fancy-dress parties rigged out as Scooby-Doo, either. While men can grow beards or wear hats, women can wear eyeliner and wax their legs. Besides, David Bowie wore make-up and it was ACE, ipso facto, Barry M. 

    2) Housework. “When,” I was asked, recently, “will feminism get my boyfriend to do his share of the housework?” Wow. While my slatternly nature is perfectly happy with putting off hoovering by saying, “I’m just waiting for a wholesale societal change to kick in. Come and hoover the front room, instead,” if you really want it hoovered, that might all take a while. Surely here, as with everything else in a relationship with two people in love, you just need to discuss your mutual wants and needs, then come to an agreement. You don’t need the advocacy of rights on the basis of social, sexual and political equality to men, dude. You just need a rota.

    Beauty regimes and housework are the two most obvious ways that the Patriarchy reinforces the oppression of women. There is a reason why women who don’t starve themselves or wear shoes which deform their feet are considered unfuckable and it isn’t because they are frigid. It’s because their existence is a threat; as is the refusal of men to take equal responsibility for the required work to maintain a family. Women will never be equal to men as long as we are required to dress like fucktoys and scrub toilets because men can’t be arsed too.

    Stop the Sexual Objectification of Women in the Press Petition

    This is clearly the week for signing petitions but here is another one which I think is very important that has come via Object who are a Feminist organisation I support:

    Stop the sexual objectification of women in the press

    Responsible department: Department for Culture, Media and Sport
    We, the undersigned, call on the DCMS to ensure that: 

    1) Sexually objectifying imagery which would not pass for pre-watershed material on the television, and which would be considered a form of sexual harassment and therefore prohibited from the work place under the Equality Act, should not be printed in newspapers which are not age-restricted and are displayed at child’s eye level. 

    2) Newspapers or lads’ mags which continue to print sexually objectifying images of women which would not pass for pre-watershed television viewing, and which would not be permitted for adults in the workplace, should be subject to binding codes in relation to their sale and display so that, if sold, they are covered up, age-restricted and put on the top shelf. 

    3) All Local and National print based media should stop carrying advertisements for the sex industries such as ads for, ‘massage parlours’, ‘escort agencies’, sex chat lines and webcam pornography.

    The Clan of The Cave Bear

    I’m not going to lie here. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel bored me senseless: the never-ending descriptions of berry gathering and mammoth slaughtering. I did care about Ayla but I was rather hoping she’d kick the ever-loving crap out of Broud from about chapter four. The only way I’d read the next five in the series is if somewhere along the way Ayla finds herself commanding an army to flatten Broud.

    Honestly, the only book I’ve come across lately which bored me even more was A.S Byatt’s The Children’s Book. One decent chapter followed by hundreds of pages of drivel about hideous people no one could possibly care about being horrible to one another; held together by what felt like a series of primary school essays. Or, several hundred pages of “look-at-me, I can use Wikipedia and copy and paste pretentious twaddle about shit no one cares about”. Either way, the book was dreadful and dull.

    There are some brilliant entries for Worst Book in the World on this thread. Lord of the Flies features heavily as does The Room and The Slap; although, i personally like The Room.

    National Stalking Awareness Day

    I have to be honest here. I only heard about this today; via the ultimate news source which is Twitter. Considering stalking is an incredibly harmful illegal activity whose cost, both financially and emotionally, is immense, I would have thought it would have been more newsworthy. Apparently, not so much.

    This is the information taken directly from Action Scotland Against Stalking website:

    National Stalking Awareness Day, 18th April 2012

    We invite all organisations across the country to participate in this landmark historical day.

    On 18th April 2012, Scotland, England and Wales will declare a national campaign to promote a Zero Tolerance to Stalking.

    “Stalking not in our Country!” Has evolved from the changes in Scottish law and the subsequent Parliamentary Stalking Enquiry and the Home Office consultation of the 1997 Harassment Act.

    The campaign will be led by the Scottish National Stalking Group and supported by The Scottish Government.

    This event marks the launch of ‘National Stalking Awareness Day- Talking Stalking’ and the formation of the UK National Stalking Alliance, and should go down in history as a momentous occasion.

    Students across the UK will also declare Zero Tolerance to Stalking under the banner of “Stalking – Not on our Campuses”.

    The launch of student’s national stalking awareness day is being led by Glasgow Caledonian University Glasgow and Bedfordshire University in England. NUS Scotland launched their priority campaign ‘Stalking- Not on our Campuses’ in 2011, and many of Scotland’s universities have already adopted the new NUS anti stalking policy.

    An innovative approach by Ayr College saw stalking awareness being introduced into their curriculum learning development module. Ayr College has since been supporting and advising other colleges who wish to help raise awareness to the dangers of campus stalking.

    ‘National Stalking Awareness Day’ will be officially launched by Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill at the Scottish Parliament and Baroness Brinton will launch the event at Westminster.

    Members of the House of Parliament, Peers, the Parliamentary Enquiry Committee. The Home Office, Association of Chief Police Officers, Charities, Government funded organisations and Victim support services will join Mr McAskill, members of the Scottish National Stalking Group & guests to celebrate the successes in Scotland and England over the past year and encourage people across the country to get involved.

    There will be live links to these events by video, and news coverage.

    The support of the Scottish Government and Westminster will be a strong advocate for further action across the country.

    We will continue to promote the success of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust National Stalking Helpline.

    Kristiana Wrixon Manager of the National Stalking Helpline reminds us

    “It is two years since the launch of the National Stalking Helpline and the service is receiving more calls than ever before from people reporting obsessive, unwanted behaviour that is blighting their lives. Fifty percent of people who contact the Helpline have not reported the matter to the police and 86% don’t know that they could seek advice from a solicitor. The people we speak with know they are scared, know that they are in danger, know that their lives are being turned upside down but too often they don’t know that they can get help.” 

    Let’s keep “Talking Stalking”.

    Help Save the Funding for NCT Practitioners!

    This came to me via a friend who is one of the women who has trained to become an NCT Practitioner.  The NCT is an important support network for women. Let’s try to save this as well.

    Please can you take a few minutes to write to your MP on Wednesday 18th April

    NCT is the UK’s largest charity for parents. Last year the charity provided antenatal classes alone for 91,500 parents, including 14,500 parents who are sent to us by the NHS – 11% of babies born in the UK are ‘NCT babies’. NCT also provides a range of free support to more than 1,500,000 people every year.The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is considering proposals to remove grant and loan funding for people training to become NCT Practitioners (Antenatal Teachers, Breastfeeding Counsellors and Postnatal Leaders). If this funding is removed, it would result in significant strain on local midwifery services, reduced services for new and expecting parents, and prevent many local mothers from entering work after giving birth.

    This is because NCT training is university accredited and of high quality, so that the charity can be assured of providing parents with the very best support when they need it most. The charity recently launched a new strategy with an ambitious goal to reach 20 million parents by 2020- but can’t do that without enough practitioners to support them.

    NCT has launched its Help NCT Help Parents campaign to ask Government to work with the charity to find a solution to this problem so that nobody who wishes to train to help parents is turned away because they cannot afford it.

    You can Help NCT Help Parents by:

    · Joining the campaign on Facebook – take action and tell your NCT story

    · Contact your MP to ask them to help NCT help parents

    · Sign the e petition

    · Get your friends and family involved – send an email like this one!

    · Tell NCT how they helped you – email your story about training or getting good support from NCT Practitioners to campaigns@nct.org.uk

    On Wednesday 18 April NCT is holding an online day of action asking supporters to contact their MPs – find out why and how you can Help NCT Help Parents

    The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is considering proposals to remove funding for people training to become NCT Practitioners, raising the cost of training to £6,000 per annum per person. This is prohibitively expensive and would lead to a dramatic fall in the number of people undertaking training. NCT needs your help to help us help parents and achieve our goal of reaching 20 million parents by 2020.

    NCT currently trains 250-300 people each year to become NCT Practitioners. Once qualified, these practitioners provide antenatal education courses to 91,500 new and expecting parents each year, as well as other support (including breastfeeding support) to more than 1,500,000 people throughout the year.

    We are launching a short term campaign aimed at finding a solution to this problem and are hoping to meet with representatives of the Department to discuss innovative solutions because there are many important social, economic reasons and health reasons for ensuring NCT Practitioner training can continue.

    NCT practitioners provide social benefits by improving people’s parenting skills:
    Children’s life chances are most heavily predicated on their development in pregnancy and the first two years of life. NCT practitioners provide support to parents to help ensure children have the best possible start in life. The Government has estimated that failure to improve these skills costs between £11,600,000,000 and £20,700,000,000 (£11.6bn and 20.7bn), as poor parenting raises the prospect of future unemployment, ill health, and criminal activity.

    NCT practitioners support NHS midwifery services:
    In the past 10yrs, the birth rate in the UK has risen by up to 22%. Over the same period, the number of midwives has risen by only 9%. The NHS spends £2,053,829,000 (£2.05bn) each year on maternity services. NCT practitioners provide a value supplement to this spending and allow NHS resources to be more closely focused on areas of urgent medical need. We help bridge the gap between the growing demand on NHS maternity services and the NHS resources available.
    The Health and Social Care Bill proposes changes to the way local midwifery services are commissioned and will mean varying levels of midwifery provision around the country. This means it may be harder to identify service shortfalls before they happen. NCT Practitioners will be able to mitigate this by providing flexible services which complement midwifery services, improving health outcomes for parents and children.

    NCT practitioners can be trained at low cost: 

    Annual spending on university training currently stands at approximately £25,400,000,000 (£25.4bn). A comprehensive training programme for 250 NCT practitioners could be provided for £1.5m. While this is still a significant amount of money, it accounts for only 0.006% of university spending. We feel this offers significant value for money and would have a disproportionate effect on education and economic outcomes in a number of important areas. Moreover, NCT has established a partnership with Worcestershire University, to ensure training costs per student is limited to £6,000 per annum. This enables us to deliver a comprehensive training programme for 250 NCT practitioners at an annual cost of £1.5m, delivering a saving of £750,000 each year.

    Once qualified, NCT Practitioners are completely self-funded. They require no further investment or financial from the public sector.

    NCT practitioner training provides employment opportunities for women returning to work after having children:

    NCT Practitioner courses offer an effective way of helping women who have had children return to the workplace. NCT Practitioners are overwhelmingly female, 51% are aged 35-44yrs, 15% come from households with incomes of less than £25k, and most have at least two children. Becoming an NCT Practitioner gives women from these demographic groups an opportunity to return to the workplace that they would not otherwise have, and to work flexibly around their childcare commitments.