Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

It’s Friday, Friday, Friday

One of my friends sings a little song on a Friday. It’s tuneful delight, sometimes with ArmDancingTM, expressing her joy at the end of the working week. In my last job, the weeks were, towards the end, untaxing, so there was no great relief in a Friday. And now my working week is not so clearly bookended, I sometimes think I’ll have to make up my own song. ‘It’s a day off, a day off, a day off’.

This project is about so much more than me wanting to make ethical pants, and the women that I work with often find it easier to meet at the weekend. Their children can be safe with family and they can come along knowing the little ones are being looked after elsewhere. I love that whomadeyourpants? has taken over so much of my life – it’s that thing, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life – but I do find myself sometimes wondering when my last day off was. Tomorrow will be a day off. It has to be. After finding myself trapped in the bathroom last night, and having to call my lodger (who was upstairs) and my brother (who was in his own house) to free me, DIY must be done.

So, this Friday, I can sing the Friday song, as it is the end of my week, though I will work a little bit over the weekend as I heard today about a fund which suits and has a deadline on Monday. What has happened this week? Well, the internet connection in my house has done it’s best to snap my sanity, what with dropping out seemingly at random, when it likes. I have swapped the router, checked the phone line, tried different laptops. All with the help of not one, not two, not three but six computery clever types. It’s workign now.. fingers crossed, eh?

The probable highlight of my week was a call from JobCentrePlus. Frequently slated, I know a lot of people have little time for them. But the support they are offering this project is amazing. Three benefits advisers can come out to a venue and see, we hope, 39 women in one day to do Better off at Work calculations and work out which of the women can do what work, for how long. They will send me forms to disseminate first, so that each woman can fill in all her information and return it to them before the appointment, and then on the day they will be able to maximise the number of people the advisers see. Can you imagine how much easier this will make things than trying to persuade 39 women, many of whom are scared to ask about benefits in case they lose them just for asking, to go to a place at the far end of town, and talk to an adviser who knows nothing about why they are asking? That the advisers will all be briefed and ready to help is sign to me of a real commitment from JobCentrePlus.

I’ve been told that the groups whomadeyourpants? aims to engage with are the same groups other agencies want to work with, but it’s just amazing when that tangible proof happens. It makes me think my original idea must be on the right track, and that is pleasing. And it wonderful that other agencies want to support women in general and this project in particular. So many of the women I am talking to desperately want to work, they don’t want to be at home all day, they want their own time and space and to do something outside the home. I work at home most of the time while I’m setting this up and I’d go absolutely crackers if I didn’t have a walk out every day, or a neighbour to chat to. People like people, we like to talk and be sociable.

For many people, the Friday song heralds a trip to a hotbed of sociability, the pub. I feel drawn to the chat and comfort of my friends tonight, but I’m also, frankly, shattered. There’s a door to fix tomorrow, and a tap, lightbulbs to buy, laundry to do and sleep to catch up on, as well as funding to apply for. The pub will be there another day.


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