A charity helping pregnant women has received funding to cope with increasing demand for its services in the capital.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, has awarded Maternity Action, based in Islington, £138,000 for a London helpline supporting the women with employment advice.

In 2018, the charity’s Maternity Rights Advice Line answered nearly 2,000 calls. It saw a huge demand for advice around maternity pay, redundancy, dismissal, and benefits from people struggling to make ends meet during their maternity or parental pay period.

In 2017 , for every call the charity’s national helpline received, five went unanswered, showing the need for an new line to ensure as many Londoners as possible are helped.

The funding will also pay for a follow-up support programme and outreach work with other organisations helping pregnant women, particularly those on low incomes and from the capital’s black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Alison Gowman, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“There is a clear demand for this service. This new helpline will mean even more people can access the advice they need on maternity and employment issues.

“Many pregnant women and new mothers on low incomes are effected by problems around employment and pay. And expert advice can make a fundamental difference to their situation.

“Tackling disadvantage is essential to making the capital a fairer and better place to live – for all Londoners.”

Rosalind Bragg, Director of Maternity Action, said:

"This grant will go towards expanding our advice service and providing free, expert advice to pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.

“We will be able to help them exercise their rights and resolve difficulties with their employers.”

The organisation sets itself apart from other charities working in this sector. It does this through its expertise in combining work related advice with income and benefits expert advice, providing support across all areas for the duration of pregnancy and early parenthood.

One in nine pregnant women and new mothers at work lose their jobs as a result of unlawful discrimination, with another 20% reporting that they’ve lost out financially. This impacts on health and wellbeing with increased levels of stress and anxiety for pregnant women.

Many of the women affected by maternity discrimination are in part time and/or low paid employment where English is not their first language and who are not aware of their rights.

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

The Trust has awarded around 8,000 grants totalling over £400 million since it firstbegan in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

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