Exactly one year ago the Single Parents’ Centre was established in order to help families where a parent is absent with services, events, counselling and a community.
During this last year, during 2,500 opening ours, the 9 staff members and over 70 volunteers of the Centre reached 4,500 families via services, events and support for parents, children or for both. Families are being welcomed no matter their constellation and without discrimination. The youngest mother is 16, with two young children, the oldest is 88! She is bringing up children on her own as a great-grandparent.
The Single Parents’ Centre does not focus on any single, highlighted problem – it aims to respond comprehensively to the extremely complex and interlinked issues of leading a single parent life. The most popular services are connected with assistance in crisis situations – for example, in the past year the Centre provided 230 hours of personal legal consultation. Camping and holidays are also extremely popular. Places are taken in minutes and families report great experiences. There were more than 70 types of events in the year. Some were one-off happenings, some lasted a few months, while some run continuously.
The Centre offers 7 types of counselling, as well as 5 live and 2 online clubs – the Single Parents’ Free Recycling, in which parents help each other with clothes, toys and furniture, and a Travel Group with the participation of 577, where groups are formed for joint events. Isolation is one of the greatest problems for parents and that is why it is very important for parents to help one another.
The youngest participants in the events for children are babies, but there are many for kindergarten, young school-age children and teenagers. Our oldest “child” is 32 – while he/she is in the play centre, his mother attends the group called “Instead of Burning Out”, where parents bringing up children with disabilities on their own meet once a fortnight.
In addition to Budapest, services are present in six towns in Hungary and two clubs in Transylvania were established. During the year, the Centre received the special prize of the Communal Space of the Year, the special prize of Highlights of Hungary, and Anna Nagy, Head of the Centre, was awarded the prize of Female Entrepreneur of the Year in connection with the Single Parents’ Centre. The Centre was nominated for the Media Architectural Award of 2019.
The Centre and its concept were also introduced at the UN in New York, in Warsaw and in Berlin. Next year, COFACE Families Europe will hold an expert meeting in Budapest on single parent families. In Bratislava an organisation is being shaped to the model of the Single Parents’ Centre, while the issue of single parenting is being introduced to Canadian MPs on the basis of the Budapest Centre’s presentation in New York.
The Centre has become part of the local community. It runs the play corner of the playground in Kálvária Square in Budapest’s 8th district. It organised events on Earth Day for 140 nursery school children and a Health Day for families living in the district in June.
Marking the first birthday of the Single Parents’ Centre, Katalin Novák, Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Human Capacities, presented the Danone Supreme Single Parent Prize. The prize, which was founded this year, was awarded by public vote to the parent who, during the past year, not only excelled in single parenting in his/her own family, but did his/her best for other single parent families, the equal opportunities of families and increasing their social esteem. The first prize was awarded to Dr. Klaudia Makó, who has two children. As a lawyer, she regularly assists single parents with free legal advice. The Certificate of Supreme Single Parent was awarded to Lívia Demeter, a special education teacher. She was presented with the prize by Botond Sára, mayor of the 8th district. Tapestry artist Edina Seres received the Danone’s special prize.
The Single Parent Families’ Foundation
The Single Parent Families’ Foundation was established in 2005 to assist the social group which is the largest minority in Hungary. Nevertheless, members of the group often face negative discrimination in everyday life. Today one of the parents is absent in approximately 300,000 families where more than half a million children are being brought up. With the help of state support, in 2017 the Foundation had the opportunity to establish a single parents’ centre in Budapest, which is a pioneering initiative internationally and it is to be a model institution for a national network in the future.