A proposed affinity program could give single moms in London a discount and some dignity at the same time.
According to Ann-Marie Ricketts, founder of the not-for-profit Single Women in Motherhood (SWIM), there could be a new membership-based discount card available for single moms in the Forest City by summer.
The card would provide single moms not only with discounts on everything from oil changes to groceries, hairdressing and esthetics, plumbing to clothing, but give them something “to be a part of.”
“It won’t look like a handout, it will be a big step toward where we need to be,” Ricketts said. “We wanted to come at it from a different angle. They will be able to say ‘I deserve this, I am a part of this.’ We want to eliminate the stigma of the single mom.”
She said Christmas is an especially difficult time for single mothers living on a budget. She said she sees the stress of living up to the commercialized holiday, of trying to make sure their children have a gift under the tree, on the faces of mothers every day.
“I can see they’re under pressure,” she said. “We need to slow down and enjoy the essence of these special moments: A child saying ‘Gee mom, thanks.’ If you miss that moment, you can’t get it back. Self-esteem goes down and the incidence of depression rises.”
Ricketts said there is a real health-care related cost to the emotional turmoil Christmas causes in many low-income families.
“A lot of the people I encounter are on medication,” she said. “The holidays can be so overwhelming.”
Relieving that pressure in 2013 would be another real benefit to having a Community Rewards Card for single moms in London.
“Christmas is just another day,” she said. “We want single mothers and their children to be OK with where they are. When you are OK, you have healthier kids.”
The business plan for the discount card was developed in conjunction with Western University students involved in the Ivey Community Consulting Project.
Each year, the ICCP helps a batch (10 in 2012) of non-profit organizations develop business plans for projects they would otherwise not have the resources to on their own.
Galina Kashkina was one of two student directors of the Ivey project in 2012. Last year she was a project manager working directly with a non-profit as the students who helped SWIM did this year.
“The students learn in management consulting classes that is important they contribute to the societies they live in,” Kashkina said. “The Ivey project lets them apply that practically. They help not-for-profits who wouldn’t have anywhere to turn for that kind of support.”
She said working as a director was a challenge, as she was one of the people who had to weed through applications for support from non-for-profits such as SWIM, and gauge whether their project was focused enough to be accomplished within a tight six-week time frame.
Each project was assigned four Ivey students and two professional consultants from global management consulting firm Accenture.
“It still has to be highly strategic but doable in six weeks,” she said. “The SWIM project certainly fit.”