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Success wears many hats

By family, Mental health, Relationships, Work employment
by Katie Gowers Watts
‘Diary of a Warent’ blogger

As a parent, your definition of success can change entirely.

Despite being a complex person emotionally, I didn’t take my first pregnancy very seriously – until it ended in a silent miscarriage. We had been for an ultrasound scan the week before and reassuringly seen a tiny, beating heart on the monitor. Sadly, one week later we saw nothing but a static, grey image.

In that moment, my version of success pivoted entirely. The only thing I really wanted, was to be able to successfully carry my child.

It’s embarrassing to confess, but in the past, I didn’t respect women who chose not to go back to work after having children. I thought of it as a cop out. I’m ashamed of that now. For those who subscribe to ‘stay-at-home stereotypes’ like I did, WOW, looking after children all day long is hard. Really hard.

Being a perma-entertainer and safe-keeper, never EVER switching off, and the sheer monotony and thanklessness of housework is so much harder than ‘work work’.


Even playing is arduous. Fumbling around in the attic of your adult mind for the dusty old imagination you stored away many years ago. The definition of child’s play is ‘a task which is easily accomplished’. I’m here to tell you that playing with children is not child’s play. It’s exhausting!

Importantly, being a stay-at-home parent comes from a place of love (or financial necessity because childcare can break the bank). It’s not laziness or lack of ambition. It took me 36 years to figure that one out.

My two children are without a shadow of a doubt, my greatest achievement. So, having recently welcomed baby number two who brings me unadulterated joy, why don’t I feel successful anymore?

Many of us define our success based on what others think of us. Or more specifically, our assumptions of what they think. Will people be suitably impressed by my accomplishments, my job title, my salary (or indeed envious of them if one’s ego needs a stroke)? If yes, then bingo, we feel successful.

Success wears many hats.

Something we all need to acknowledge is that actually, success wears many hats. Professional success, financial success, parenting success, relationship success, family success. Sometimes it’s just ‘keeping your sh*t together’ success. What matters is how we define our own success, and in turn, respecting each other’s unique versions. If I’m wearing a baseball cap today, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a trilby.

Right now, rudely interrupting my marvellous motherhood moments, is the fact that somehow my sense of accomplishment is diminished.

I question myself ALL the time. Am I adding enough value – to my family, to our bank balance, to my employer? I feel like I’m in debt.

As a bona fide warent (working parent), I cast aside all the other hats in my success wardrobe, in search of my ‘professional success hat’. The hat that people admire the most. But it doesn’t fit me right now.

Despite having fire in my belly and craving professional success once again, I’m scared. I’m not ready to leave my baby yet; I want to be a present mum – but, I’m also afraid of the alternative. Of having already stunted my success, of being left behind and of missing out on opportunity to be professionally brilliant. I really want both. But we can’t wear two hats at exactly the same time, can we?

My heart tells me to focus solely on our chubby little bundle of joy. Somebody recently told me, “You will never regret spending more time with your kids”.

Surrounding myself with love and this unbelievable family we have created is a HUGE, everlasting success. A hat that I’ll never outgrow. I know that.

But, my (annoying) head tells me I need to get back to work and back in the game. My professional success hat has been sitting around in the wardrobe so long that it’ll be moth-eaten by the time I take it out and shove it back on.

So, I’ve taken a step back to properly look at myself. To open every drawer of my mind and rummage through my collection of hats.

I tried my ‘stay-at-home success’ hat on for size, and I like it. It’s one of those understated, comfortable pieces of clothing that you’ll never throw out, so I’ve been wearing it for a while – but it’s not in vogue. From time to time, I put my more impressive ‘professional success’ hat back on and walk around the house in it to make myself feel busy and important (I’m wearing it as I write this). And when I get bored, I try on every single hat in the wardrobe and end up with nothing but ‘hat hair’.

It seems obvious now, that my ‘family success’ hat will never, ever go out of fashion. The others are perhaps more seasonal.

Here’s the most important thing I’ve figured out. Self-deprecation is the opposite of success. It has literally no useful purpose. It’s a paper hat when you’re out in the rain. Self-respect is success in its purest, most impressive form. It’s a frickin’ bejewelled gold crown, sparkling in the sunshine.

warentingFor those of us ‘warenting’ our way through life, impossibly striving to be perfect parents AND perfect professionals, remember that success belongs to YOU. It’s yours to define. Own it.

For now, I have redefined my version of success. Because it’s not a static, grey image. It’s a beating heart.

You can read the full version of ‘Success wears many hats’ and additional ‘warenting’ blogs written by Katie, at

Adult Carers Week

Unpaid carers and their rights

By Childcare and Nannying, Legal, Relationships, Work employment
by Barbara Cormie
Marketing and Communications Manager, Action for Carers Surrey

Life as an unpaid carer can be tough – but it’s even tougher if you’re not aware of the rights you’re entitled to. The UK has nearly 10 million people in a caring role – people that are helping a relative or friend who is disabled, frail, or unwell, who couldn’t manage without this support.

People can become carers overnight, or can only realise they are carers over time, as a partner or parent’s health declines. And some people never know a life that’s not caring, as they are born with a disabled brother or sister.

carer adviceAlthough it can be rewarding, and deepen relationships, caring can also be extremely hard, and will often affect someone practically, socially, emotionally, and financially.

Statutory rights
But here in the UK there is some understanding of what a carer’s role entails, and in theory – there is statutory support for unpaid carers, and a number of rights which should help make lives easier.

Your rights include the right to a Carers’ Assessment, the right not to be discriminated against, and employment rights.

So what exactly are my rights?

The right to a carers assessment
Under the Care Act 2014, adult carers have the right to an assessment by their council, of their caring role, and to be provided with the financial and practical support they are found to need. The assessment should include finding out whether the carer is able – and willing – to care, as well as the affect on their wellbeing, and their access to work, study and recreation.

And under the Children Act 1989 and the Children and Families Act 2014, there is a requirement for councils to similarly assess the needs of parent carers of disabled children under 18. And under the same Acts, children themselves under 18 who are carers, have the right to an assessment, which looks at the impact of caring, and whether the young person wishes to continue caring, and if it’s appropriate for them to do so.

advisor chatYour employment rights
If you’re a carer juggling work with your caring role, then you also have employment rights. This includes the right to request flexible working.

And just this year, the Carers Leave Act was passed, meaning that from a yet undefined date in 2024, all carers will now have the right to up a week of unpaid carers leave. (The right to request some leave, was previously only available to certain qualifying employees.)

It is also worth checking your contract as increasingly employers are recognising the value of supporting carers in their workforce and you might find that you are offered more generous terms.

The Equality Act
In the UK people have protection from discrimination in employment, in education and when receiving services. You are protected from being discriminated against on the basis of various ‘protected characteristics’, one of which is disability.

So this means, a carer cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their ‘association’ with a disabled person. For example, if you were verbally abused by a shop assistant about your child’s mental health condition, then potentially you would have been discriminated against under the Act.

The Government, working with CAB’s guide: ‘The Equality Act: What do I need to know as a carer?’ talks through the Act, different situations, and how you might take action if you think you have been discriminated against.

Further information on rights
National charity, Carers UK, have lots of in-depth information on your rights.

Carer Rights Day
To raise awareness of carers’ rights and entitlements, the annual Carers Rights Day helps carers get the support they need – and this year it’s on Thursday 23rd November. So look out for events near you to help you find out more.

If you are in Surrey, please consider coming along to one of charity Action for Carers 10 Information Fairs, being held across the county, between 20-25th November. Action for Carers and many other charities and organisations will be there, offering advice and information about your rights, and caring generally. Fairs are ‘drop in’ and free. Visit to find out more.

Don’t struggle on alone
Try and find out what you are entitled to, and if you need any help, please give your local carers organisation a call.

Barbara Cormie is Marketing and Communications Manager for Action for Carers Surrey. Action for Carers are a charity supporting Surrey’s unpaid carers aged 5-95, with advice, information, free events and more. Visit, or call the Helpline on 0303 040 1234 for more information.

Fostering a teen

Teenagers who are trying to find their place in the world

By family, Fostering and adoption, Work employment

When people first enquire to foster, it is often assumed that younger children will be easier to manage and that teenagers will be more challenging to care for. But teenagers often become the preferred option for many foster carers who now have a special place in their hearts for this age group. There are many vulnerable teenagers in Brighton & Hove who need the unconditional love and support of a foster carer to give them the confidence and skills they need for adulthood. Could this be you?

Teenagers often come into care feeling that everyone is against them. Alongside any trauma they may have been through, hormones and a growing sense of independence mean they are going through a key and challenging stage of development. The stability and support that foster parents provide at this important stage can have a far-reaching impact and help them develop into caring, confident and independent adults.

Chris and Kieran have been fostering teenagers for almost 30 years. “The good bit is that you see them growing up, becoming independent and moving on. You get to know them and they’re old enough to really talk to. I was a secondary school teacher so I kind of know what’s going on in their heads so it’s easier to communicate. And now of course we’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Fostering a teenager can bring real challenges, but it also offers huge rewards. It takes care and consistency to let a young person know, regardless of their age, that you’re not going anywhere and you’re not giving up. When teenagers know they’re in a safe and caring place, that’s when they really start to thrive.

Martin and Liz foster teenagers and now wouldn’t have it any other way.

For Liz, it’s a familiar stage of parenting. “Our sons are in their twenties, so it doesn’t seem that long ago that they were teenagers. Having teenagers keeps you young, it’s got me back into real life!”

Martin says “Teenagers are exploring where they want to go and they’re discovering what they want to do with their life. They’re very vocal about what they want to do and they’re very interesting to talk to because they’ve got ideas that make you sit up and think!”

The magnitude of impact that foster carers can provide for young people in care is far reaching and invaluable. Family relationships are a huge benefit to teens who desperately need a support network to guide them whilst they try to work out who they are and understand what’s happened to them in the past.

Liz says “You’ve got to be very open-minded when you do face a challenge. It breaks my heart inside, but you can’t show that. And you need to be non-judgemental, that’s important. You cannot judge because you haven’t experienced the situation and can’t know what it’s like. We can only imagine.”

Like all children and young people in foster care, teens just need that family or individual who can help make the difference to their life and future prospects.

Chris and Kieran enjoy seeing the young people they’ve cared for grow up, become independent and remain part of their lives as adults.“We attended the wedding of one of our foster children… the Best Man and four ushers had also been our foster children so that was quite a day! We also have two granddaughters who we see on a regular basis.”

Birth child Lauren remembers when her mum made the decision to foster young adults between the ages of 12 and 18. “Everyone wants to foster or adopt a cute baby or young child, but not enough people think about teenagers. My mum wanted to give young adults a chance to change their lives by giving them the skills and emotional support for them to make their own success. She helped them to believe in themselves and I feel proud of her for helping them to flourish into young adults who now have a chance for a better future.”

Gemma’s life was transformed when she was fostered by a Brighton family at a desperate time. Foster carers Shelley and Nicholas took her into their family home – initially for an emergency short stay – and gave her the security and care she needed.

Gemma says: “What started as a two week respite break turned into a four year foster placement. As soon as I stepped in their front door, I immediately felt this was where I was meant to be. My foster carers gave me the safe, loving home and stability I was craving. They’ve also believed in me – and that support has helped put me on a path to a future that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible. Shelley filled a void in my life, and while you can’t replace a mum, which she’s never tried to, she gave me the unconditional love and support that a mum would, and that was all I was after.The truth is, we all just need someone to care, even if it were just one person. That one person could change your life.”

Gemma encourages anyone considering fostering to give it a try. “There may be a child or young person out there who needs you, and you could save their life.”

To foster teenagers, it can help if you have some prior experience working with young people, but it is not essential as the Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Team will provide all the training and support you need. There are a variety of skills and qualities that are useful such as being able to listen, having a good sense of humour and being a caring, empathic person.

Teenagers are trying to find their place in the world, and they need someone to show they care. If this is you, the Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Team would love to hear from you.

If you can help a teenager to find their place in the world and be the person they need, the Brighton & Hove Fostering Team would love to hear from you. Visit for more information or e-mail to find out about upcoming information sessions.

Have you heard about the latest trend in childcare?

By Childcare and Nannying, children's health, Education, family, Relationships, Work employment

by Adele Aitchison
GrandNanny Founder

New childcare services in the UK are offering families the chance of reliable, flexible, part-time childcare from experienced over-50s. From mental wellbeing, to being a substitute grandparent for families, the benefits of intergenerational childcare are becoming clear to parents, children AND older workers.

Parents can all identify with the strain of stretching their time to cover work, home admin, the school or nursery run, and after-school activities. Twenty four hours in a day don’t seem enough! ‘The juggle is real’ and whether your child is in nursery or school, finding the right childcare solution can be fraught with worry and frustration, especially at a time when some nurseries and after-school clubs have shut down locally.

It’s clear that families need reliability and experience. Now that many people’s work patterns have changed from the classic ‘9 to 5’ – whether because of flexible working, working from home, or night shifts – flexibility is also really important, but often difficult to find.

As a new solution, the UK has recently started adopting a trend that’s already popular in the US and Japan – matching older people with young families, to give them the reliable, part-time childcare they desperately need. Research has shown intergenerational programmes can improve mental and physical wellbeing for older people, whilst helping the kids they care for have better age-empathy, development and social skills.

As founder of GrandNanny, I was inspired by my memories of being looked-after, as a child, by my grandparents. My grandparents were very involved in my childcare growing up, but when I moved to London, I realised loneliness among older adults is a huge issue. This is especially true for those who aren’t in touch with family or who aren’t working. I felt strongly that families were missing the huge experience and care older adults can bring. I could see very clearly the benefits of connecting older people to those in their communities and have seen hugely positive feedback from all age-groups.

For older workers, nannying can promote mental and physical wellbeing, with a job that keeps body and brain active and provides a valued role in the family and wider community. If they were previously not considered for a job because of their age, their experience is viewed with a fresh perspective – as a valuable skill – and they are ‘seen’ again by the society. Parents get reliable help from someone who really gets to know their family and child and has a range of skills and specialist knowledge from their previous careers. Kids get all the great stuff you’d expect, from someone to help with reading or homework or to bake, play music and go to the park with.

Anna, a 57 year old former receptionist who lost her job last year, started nannying two months after being made redundant, taking care of siblings aged seven and three. She became a grandparent figure for them – getting them ready in the morning and taking them to school, cooking dinner, and reading a bedtime story. Having three grown-up girls and a grandson and always looking after kids for friends, she had plenty of personal experience of childcare. Anna says working as a nanny helps her to keep a young and optimistic outlook and spend time in the fresh air, but also gives her the flexibility to look after her own grandson while still earning an income.

The family Anna works for say she has been a great help to them, really helping lighten the load. She has also become a ‘substitute grandparent’ to the children in her care, something that’s all the more precious because they don’t have their biological grandparents close-by.

So far, as this new approach to childcare takes off in the UK, a huge range of over-50s, from musicians to events organisers, former teachers to nurses say they have found a new and rewarding career as a nanny. They can bring unexpected skills in creativity or learning that the family might not get in a different childcare setting, as well as specialist knowledge for children with specific additional needs.

The families who’ve seen the huge benefits of an over-50s childcarer for their families, really appreciate the flexibility and peace of mind such a service offers.

For anyone who may not have had a nanny before, this important new trend seems to be a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.

nursery job

Does anyone want a job?!

By Education, Music and singing, Playing, Work employment
by Sally-Ann Potter
Potter’s House Preschool and Forest School

There was a time a few years ago when the hardest thing about recruiting new staff was sifting through the masses of CV’s emailed to me via Indeed. I’d advertise and within 24 hours I’d have 20-30 applicants and have to scan each application to find the basics I was looking for – it was almost a full-time job just to find someone who fitted the bill. High quality staff was easier when the pickings were strong. Recently though when I’ve lost valuable staff for various reasons, I’ve found recruiting harder than ever. I have had four applicants in a month, two of which didn’t show up to an interview. It’s disheartening.

But even I find myself curious about whether I still have the same drive and passion so I can only imagine many other people in our industry have similar thoughts and feelings. It is by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever done, but often it is thankless, exhausting and the cause of lots of anxiety.

I belong to a brilliant community of practitioners online on a Facebook page called Keeping Early Years Unique, which was set up by a true genius in our field Elaine Bennett. It’s where I go for advice, inspiration and answers and I took to this forum with my concerns over recruitment to see if others were having the same trouble.

The general consensus was ‘YES’. It seems that across the board people are struggling to employ new staff or even maintain staff that were once loyal and dedicated. I had a small idea of why this was happening – a minimum wage job that requires constant and consistent attention and returns very little in the way of perks unless you count the natural immunity to illnesses your body has developed from years of being licked and coughed on by toddlers. We really do seem to have cast iron constitutions, don’t we?

The passion has somewhat dispersed in the past few years with the pressures of maintaining standards during the pandemic while not being recognised for our efforts in helping keep the country going. So many practitioners were expected to work through the pandemic continuously putting themselves at risk with very little acknowledgment at all – expected to fund and provide their own PPE and with little regard to the heightened pressure they were under. It was always going to leave people feeling a little bit unhappy.

On top of that, the anxiety driven stress surrounding Ofsted inspections heightened when the new reforms came in. The feedback from many settings was that inspections didn’t go as well as usual and ratings were lower but staff felt like they had been working harder than ever. A quote from a nursery room leader said: “It was like when you’ve spent all day cleaning and keeping house for your family while working an eight hour day from home and home schooling your children, you’ve made a delicious meal that your toddler ate happily last week and instead he spits it all on the floor and screams that he wanted something else – except he doesn’t know what.”

Throughout the pandemic children’s development has suffered in ways we couldn’t have expected – their social communication being the biggest cause for concern but I’ve also noticed a rise in children as young as two years old suffering from intense anxiety but often without the ability to process why or the vocabulary to say how they’re feeling. This seems to be as a direct result of being born into a pandemic causing untold worry to mothers who had no support from professionals and isolation from family members. It was always going to affect children massively, we just didn’t necessarily predict it early enough. With all this added concern, the job takes on a brand new meaning, the workload/mental load triples and the wage remains minimum. I get it, I really do appreciate why so many people are saying they’d rather work in a supermarket for more money and less stress.

But hold on because on the flip side of all the negativity is opportunity. If there’s one thing we know as practitioners it is that we have the potential to make the world of difference to children all over the country – and we do. The child who can’t settle, the child who finds social situations overwhelming, the child who draws his feelings instead of using language, the child who hits out, the child who needs constant reassurance – they all still go to school confident, resilient, bright and brilliant little people – because we did our job and we did it well.

“Don’t be afraid to take on big challenges. They give the best rewards.” – Spencer Christensen.

Now, does anyone want a job because I’m still looking?

For more information please contact Sally-Ann at or call 07375 379148

Selling online?

By Finance, Work employment

Here’s what you need to know about taxes

With online shopping becoming more and more popular, e-commerce and online business start ups are growing at a rapid rate. In fact, according to the Business Data Group, the UK’s e-commerce start-up sector is booming at levels not seen before.

Research showed that in the week before the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown was announced, more than 500 e-commerce start-ups were formed. Five weeks later, that figure had risen exponentially to almost 1,300 e-commerce start-ups per week – around 800 more than the same week in 2019.

If you own an e-commerce business, or you’re thinking about starting one, then there are special rules and regulations for operating. Here, Zoe Gibbons, partner and e-commerce specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants, explains what you need to know about selling online.

Do online sellers have to pay tax?
Setting up as an online business is a great way to keep overheads to a minimum and benefit from flexible working arrangements. However, like any other business, an e-commerce business will be subject to paying taxes.

If you are self-employed, including as an online seller, then you’ll need to complete an annual self-assessment tax return to disclose any income and expenditure and submit it online to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you are selling items online and it is not part of a business activity, such as selling second-hand possessions on eBay, then you won’t need to pay tax. However, if you plan to do it regularly, this could count as a business even if you already have a job.

As of 2016, the Finance Act gave HMRC the authority to investigate the selling sites of individuals who do not appear to be declaring income. This is assessed based on the following criteria:
• Intention to make a profit as opposed to selling for fun or to raise emergency funds.
• Repetition of similar transactions over a short period of time.
• Borrowing money to fund transactions.
• Inability to prove items sold were pre-loved or used before being listed.
• Items sold at a fixed price in a similar way to other retailers.
• Limited time between purchase and selling of items.
• Modification of items in order to sell them for profit.

How much can you sell online before paying tax?
If you’re hoping to make a small amount of money from selling online, then the good news is HMRC currently allows for £1,000 to be earned in sales before any tax is payable.

However, even if you’re selling online on platforms such as eBay, Depop and Gumtree, and you’re not a registered business, once you pass the £1,000 earnings threshold you may be liable for tax as a self-employed individual.

What taxes do online businesses need to pay?
Depending on how your business is set up, the following taxes may apply:
• Income Tax
• Corporation Tax
• National Insurance
• Employers’ PAYE
• Business rates

It is recommended that you seek the advice of a professional accountant for any e-commerce business tax related matters.

Is there an online sales tax?
In March 2020, HMRC introduced the Digital Services Tax – a 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces, which derive value from UK users. The majority of businesses affected by this tax are large multi-national enterprises, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.

However, the UK Treasury is also investigating the options for introducing an online sales tax in response to the recent shift in shopping patterns and online consumer behaviour. Currently, it is considering a 2% online sales tax on e-commerce sellers and marketplaces.

This could mean that e-commerce businesses will need to pay 2% of tax on their online sales to UK customers.

Do you pay taxes when selling online to other countries?
If you sell goods online to customers who are overseas, then other considerations will apply. For example, your goods may require accompanying documentation and could be subject to customs duty and sales tax on arrival at their destination.

If you are in any doubt, then you should seek the assistance of a qualified accountant who has experience dealing with e-commerce businesses.

Unusual ways to make extra money

By Finance, Work employment
by Peter Watton

More and more Brits are turning to side hustles to supplement their incomes, and you might want to make some extra cash too. Here, Peter Watton from OddsMonkey picks out the side hustles that are perfect for parents.

Many families across the UK have seen their monthly income drop throughout the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This has led more and more people to top up their income with side hustles, which are jobs you can do in your spare time. Our research has shown that some people are even earning up to £4,000 per year from their extra business – though the average amount is £230 per month.

Finding time to earn extra money can be challenging when you’re a parent, so it’s important to think about side hustles that can be done from home, or arranged around your childcare responsibilities. It’s also useful if your extra earner is easy to set up, is simple and doesn’t take up any space in your home.

This is why many online earning opportunities can be a smart way forward for parents who want some extra spending money. Below, I’ll share a few side hustles that are great for parents to fit in and do from home.

1. Dropshipping
You might have heard of dropshipping, as it’s used by sellers as big as Amazon, as well as many small online businesses. But, you might not know how to get started. Dropshipping is a way of selling items online without the need to acquire stock, meaning you don’t need to make space to keep products in your home.

Dropshippers find products, then advertise them, and order on behalf of customers from suppliers. So, you take on the public-facing duties of advertising and setting up an e-commerce website, and let the suppliers fulfil the orders.

To get started, you just need to find a product you like, and then set up a platform to advertise it. While this side hustle does require an initial investment of time, once it’s set up it can be a really good option, as you can set your own working hours and work on your business at home.

2. Matched betting
Matched betting is a way of making money that you might not know much about. This is method of betting that takes advantage of free offers from betting providers. By using these free offers, and betting on both outcomes of an event (such as a football game), you can guarantee that you’ll at least make your money back, even if you don’t make a profit.

There are lots of calculation websites that can help you work out what bets to take. It’s also worth noting that any earnings from matched betting are tax-free, whereas with other side hustles, you’ll need to pay income tax on any earnings over £1,000 per year. This side hustle does require investing time to learn the principles of matched betting, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s easy to do from home while watching your little ones.

3. Testing food products
Manufacturers need to do testing to see how customers will react to their new products before they hit the shops. You can get involved with this, and try some exciting new flavours while earning either money or vouchers! Plenty of food trials don’t even require you to leave your house either.

You’ll need to join a market research company as a consumer tester, as food manufacturers use these companies to get their focus group feedback. After you’ve filled out a survey to show the company what kind of demographic you fall into, they’ll send you samples to try out and give feedback on. This can be a fun, easy way to earn some extra money while also trying new things.

You should be aware however that there are some scam websites out there, so double-check that the company you find is genuine by reading reviews and contacting the manufacturer of some of the products offered for testing. They’ll be able to tell you that the market research firm is genuine, and then you can be sure you’re with a reputable company.

4. Renting out your things
You might not think of your belongings as being a potential source of income, but many people are increasingly making money by renting out their things. You can rent out everything from bicycles to musical and electrical equipment. You’ll just need to be at home for renters to pick them up and then give them back to you after use.

There are many websites where you can sign up and offer your items up for renting. A popular website for this is Fat Llama, which allows people to see items offered for renting in their area. Just take a photo of your items, set up an account, and add your town or city so people know where you are located.

5. Going on a game show
This one is the most fun out of all the potential side hustles. Lots of your favourite shows will be open to applications for contestants throughout the year and you can apply to be on them by using the BBC and ITV pages for applying to participate. Watch for when your favourite shows (or the ones you think you’ll excel at!) are open for contestants, and then try your hand at collecting some winnings.

Of course, you will need childcare as filming can’t take place at home – but this is a special occasion, so a babysitter is definitely in order. Lots of game shows are also filmed in one day, which helps when organising a babysitter or alternative activity for your children.

It can be overwhelming deciding what side hustle might work for you and lots of the advice about earning extra money doesn’t take into account the time you spend watching and looking after your children. But, these potential earners are all good for fitting in around your parental responsibilities, and working from home means you can balance them with family time too.

OddsMonkey are an industry leader in the world of matched betting, and are the original developers of the UK’s leading matched betting software.
To find out more, visit:

The best of the best tips on being work smart

By Work employment
by Emma Cleary
Flexibility Matters

A smart approach to work is critical right now, whether you’re looking for a completely new challenge with hours that suit you, or you want to freshen up your existing arrangement.

Over the pandemic, at Flexibility Matters we ran 20 online seminars where we were joined by industry leading specialists sharing their best tips on tackling the challenging work environment we were facing. From mentoring through furlough and redundancy to creating a killer CV and mastering LinkedIn, we continued to support both our candidates and clients with the tools to thrive. Here, we’ve picked out our favourite directives for you to be #worksmart and #workready right now.

LinkedIn. The must-have tool for getting yourself a job…
Kerry Watkins, Founder and MD of Social Brighton, advised that the key to creating the ideal LinkedIn networking profile is to treat it as you would a real-life networking event, to ensure you make more meaningful connections and see greater impact. Kerry says: “Your profile, in a nutshell, needs to highlight what you want people to know about you and how you want them to feel about you. It then needs to be easy for them to do what you want them to do.” Kerry’s top tips include:
• The headline is your badge at a networking event. It will follow you around the room, so the 120 characters need to state exactly what you do and be compelling.
• The about section is your chance to expand on your headline with the top three things you want people to know, feel and remember about you. These can be your skills, approach to work or personality, but they need to be authentic.
• The featured section backs up the ‘about section’, making your profile more colourful. Add to it articles you have written, videos you have made or projects you have worked on.

Creating a killer CV that beats the bots…
Ali Waters, Recruitment Trainer and Consultant, took us through how to work around the automated CV rejecter algorithms, and once through to human eyes and interview stage, what an employer really wants to know.

Ali points out that, the automated CV gatekeepers strip out the formatting of CVs and cover letters and scans for keywords that match the job specification, scoring accordingly. So, customising each of your applications is extremely important. This can be done by mirroring the keywords found in the job spec within your CV and focusing on hard skills – job-specific abilities or knowledge learned through education. #toptip: Copy and paste the job description into an online keyword generator and use the results within your application.

To impress the human eye, make sure your CV is simple, concise, and achievement-based, avoiding cliches such as ‘attention to detail’ and ‘good team player’. Also, the career summary list of responsibilities and achievements needs to be re-prioritised according to the job specification list of requirements.

At interview stage Lynn Tulip RCDP, Career Transition Coaching recommends, firstly, celebrating reaching interview stage as that’s a win in itself. She also points out that you are interviewing the business as much as they are interviewing you – so think about whether you fit with them culturally and in terms of beliefs and ethics.

Ask yourself, can you do the job? And do you really WANT the job? Research the company and the job requirements and practice the open, closed, behavioural, situational and competency questions in combination with your CV – examples and evidence are critical. #toptip: Connect with employees who already work at the company you want to work for.

Embracing change and pivoting your career
Lucy Freeborn from North Star Consulting, a life-coach specifically trained to help women switch up their lifestyles, took us through the fundamentals on how to pivot our careers and change direction.

As a first step, we were introduced to the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, which explains that change is a process and one we will always move through. By taking control of this process, we are then empowered to see beyond the ‘shock’ of an initial big change and see the bigger picture of what could lie beyond.

When identifying our values and passions, Lucy explains that our values are our sacred ground and the way to measure our own success. Staying in a profession, a relationship or a situation that doesn’t sit well with our values leads to discomfort or ‘hollow’ success. Reconnecting with our values will help to establish what direction we should go in.

Creating realistic goals and putting a robust plan in place allows us to make big changes to our professional life as it forces us to recognise what has stopped us from achieving success in the past, so we can seek the support needed for it not to happen again.

For more on being #worksmart and #workready, see our full suite of expert tips on our website:

Flexibility Matters match talented professionals with roles outside of the 9-5, from full-time flex to part-time and consultancy, devising a flexible working strategy that suits both businesses and employees. Register on or get in touch directly on email:




Flexible and hybrid working is here to stay – make it work for you

By Work employment

The global COVID-19 crisis has transformed the face of work for millions. With many businesses now taking on a more blended approach to remote and office-based work, ‘flexible working’ is well and truly here to stay. The enforced need to adapt has fundamentally changed the way companies are run and has shown that many jobs can and are being done remotely, part-time or with compressed hours – and with great success.

At Flexibility Matters we have been actively championing this necessary business change for the past six years. Matching businesses with results-oriented professionals that simply need a flexible approach to their work hours, has meant that we understand very well the key requirements for successful partnerships.

During the lockdown period we launched a new service specifically designed to support businesses to maintain projects whilst teams were scattered or unable to work. Experts in their fields, such as Marketing, HR and Finance, Flexibility Matters Consultants worked on an agreed day rate and on continual rolling contracts. It was a great example of flexible workers being able to adapt to suit business demands and we were delighted at how well this worked for both our candidates and businesses.

We’ve been reporting for years that flexible workers are more focussed, productive, and happy and we know the key ingredients to being a successful one.

Whether you’re looking for a completely new challenge working hours that suit your circumstances or you need full workplace flexibility such as home-based work, for parenting or carer reasons, here are just a few of our top tips to being remote or flexible work capable:

• Flexible working enabling tech.

Ensure you have a reliable and secure Internet connection, especially for video calls. Plus, have the software and hardware tools that you need to be 100% remote working effective, such as Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and Zoom.

• Set yourself up for success in your workspace.

Whether this means you find a great co-working space near you or a designated area at home that makes you feel focussed and motivated.

• Be clear in your communications.

Conversing remotely removes a lot of the extra information gained from the visual and audio cues of speaking in person. So, make sure you recognise this, and that communication is extra clear and timely and that it builds trust between you and your employers.

• Know when to log-off.

The best part of working remotely is having the flexibility to work when you are most productive, so be careful about setting the expectation that you are available 24/7 and set clear boundaries between work and life.

• Be adaptable.

Being adaptable is a big part of being flexible and it should work for both you and your employer. Being willing to, on occasion, step outside of your core working hours to accommodate something business critical will secure a successful flexible partnership.

At Flexibility Matters, flexible working is at our core and we are uniquely positioned to resource for this new ‘normal’.
If you’re a professional looking for a flexible career role, take a look at our website and register with us today:, or get in touch with me on 0781 0541 599 or email:

Meet the women leading ‘the flex movement’!

By family, Finance, Work employment
by Emma Cleary
Flexibility Matters

This year’s International Women’s Day, #ChooseToChallenge, is for me the perfect reminder of all the fabulous women I’ve encountered on my journey who have inspired me to continue championing flexible working and its benefits.

As the founder of Flexibility Matters, I started my flexible work journey out of the necessity to find a job in Sussex that accommodated three nursery aged children! Flex is fundamental to work and life and I’ve made it my mission to find flexible roles for talented and experienced parents to allow them to continue to progress their careers.

At a pivotal webinar on ‘How Covid-19 made working flexibly business critical’, some of the wonderfully flexible ladies I’ve met along the way and some of whom I work with now, were able to reveal their most important insights on busting the nine to five working myth.

Jane Galloway, Head of Flexible Working at NHS England, and NHS Improvement said: “In general, increasing access to flexible working options increases staff engagement, and we know that in the NHS, good staff engagement leads to better patient care.”.

Dagmar Albers, UK Diversity & Inclusion Lead, who has been avidly working within Pfizer to roll out team pact workshops on informal flexible working agreements, revealed: “Once teams agree a pact, they are then able to work at a time and place best for them in terms of productivity, energy and of course positive outcomes, whilst effectively managing commitments outside of work. It is about the outcome produced and not the number of hours worked and about trusting each other to deliver in a way that works for them”.

Jessica Hornsby, Organisational Capability Lead has been working within Thales on fundamentally shifting the mindset around flexible working, that they now term SMART working, for over four years. She saw many assumptions smashed by COVID-19. The most impactful being how few roles ‘have’ to be office based.

Another remarkable lady, Ursula Tavender, Learning and Development Specialist and Co-Director of Flexpo, has been leading the charge on flex and equality in the workplace for over 5 years now. Ursula says: “Flexible working is the most powerful tool we have in the working world to make sure that everyone, whatever their circumstances, has equal access to meaningful work and equal opportunity to progress. It has always been the key to closing pay gaps, and now it has also become the key to our ability to build back better as we navigate the phases of the pandemic. We’ve learned so much during this past year about what’s possible; now is the time to leverage the opportunity in front of us to change the world of work forever.”

For the past six years Flexibility Matters have been matching businesses with results-oriented professionals that need a flexible approach to their work hours. Whilst influencing business mindsets and challenging traditional cultures has not been simple, with a little push from a pandemic that chose to challenge us all, it now feels like a more flexible approach to work is here to stay.

We’ve been reporting for years that flexible workers are more focused, productive and happy and we know the key ingredients to being a successful one. Whether you’ve been made redundant or you’re simply looking for a brand new flexible challenge, get in touch on 07810 541599 or register at