Jenny from the UK has been a Host Mum to 13 Au Pairs so far. She says "Brexit is killing us as a Host Family". In this article, she explains how Brexit will destroy the Au Pair program in the UK.
Why the Au Pair program improved my life
Why do you need to read this article? Well, from one host mum to another, you need to read this article because the contents of it will affect you and your family. I am Jenny. I am a British Host Family
, who has welcomed and accepted 13 amazing Au Pairs
from all over the globe, and made them a part of our family. But this is now at risk. It's been put at risk from Brexit. Let me give you an insight into my life, prior to Brexit...
Sometimes I had to pinch myself. Is my life real? It's certainly not a perfect life, and like anyone that works long hours as I do - I am tired and emotional. But having been a host mum to 13 brilliant and inspiring young women who have lived in my home year on year, under the guise of being an ‘Au Pair’ - I have to say that I feel so lucky and blessed to now have each of these amazing Au Pairs as part of my ‘family.’ Moving countries, to live with me, my husband, and two children cannot have been easy. Working for emergency services we work very long days. But these amazing and talented people have helped keep me sane. They have provided friendship and routine not only for my children but also for me.
The story of a life-long friendship
My first Au Pair started with us when my youngest was three weeks old. Since then we have had an Au Pair almost every year. Some have stayed longer. Helping me with dog walks, light household work
, and of course, everything child-related - they have understandably grown very close to us all. But more than that... they have each in their own right become a surrogate daughter to me. I have watched as they have helped me raise my own girls. They have been there for their troubles as well as mine. We have had uncontrollable waves of laughter; dancing on the tables, dress ups and dress downs, we have experimented with culinary dishes from all over the world, watched films, and tasted new wines.
We have had holidays and Christmases
, birthdays and school shows. We have as one big group shared moments where my eldest has been through some torturous mental health struggles due to that all-time favourite ‘it girl bullying..’ The Au Pairs' own experiences, love, and guidance they have provided has not only saved my daughter's life but mine. Whilst working hours and hours some days on jobs and experiences that would blow your mind, my Au Pairs have provided security, routine, healthy meals
, and arms around small bodies that have molded my children into the most incredible young people you would ever meet.
Brexit will change everything
Until now - it's been easy to find an Au Pair. My profile goes live on a matching website
- I have many applications to scroll through until I can find the one that instinctively, I know will be a huge part of my life forever. My girls are the luckiest girls alive - they have ‘family’ all over the world that will welcome them at any time with open arms and an open heart.
This life-changing and affordable childcare has meant that I can work, and still give my children a childhood full of fun, laughter, and love. I have help in and around the house, and I have a friend to lean on, as they have in me. Brexit
stands to take all of this away. My current Au Pair who would normally have freedom of movement around Europe had to apply for pre-settled status. What will happen after December 2020? No one knows. Au Pairs and Host Families alike are confused and don't know how they can continue to work when they cannot afford after-school clubs, nannies, and anyone else to cover unsociable hours.
I am trying to start my own business to support Au Pairs and emergency service families - but the BAPAA (British Au Pair Agencies Association) has said that ‘Every Agency is suffering’ with European youngsters reluctant to take up places with British families for fear of their future. Demand for an Au Pair remains high - but I watch in sadness as some agencies
are forced to close. Originally there was an agreement between all of the European Nations that Europeans could move freely from country to country for cultural exchange.
This cultural exchange gives the Au Pair the freedom to mature and grow whilst helping families with childcare and light household work. It gives them the safety of living with a family that will nurture and protect them whilst providing them with pocket money. But thanks to Brexit we have seen an overall 60% reduction in applicants to the UK.
No alternatives for many families
For people like me who work long and sometimes painful hours within the emergency service trying to save and help others, an Au Pair is the only affordable form of childcare. But so much more than being affordable, an Au Pair provides children from these types of families with security, routine, and love. My children have relied on their Au Pairs for so much of their emotional and mental growth. It's a ghastly and damaging decision for any family who has an Au Pair who is part of them. COVID
has meant that the petition from BAPAA has effectively been forgotten. So what now? I feel lost and forgotten. For all those families that go out of their way in their day job to help others - we need help too. We need the government to hear us.
For me, I love each of my Au Pairs and without them, I am not sure I or my girls would be who we are today. I don't want to live my life without my Au Pairs, and I don't want to stop giving young people the chance to grow and be loved in another part of the world. It is because of my amazing Au Pairs, that Au Pairable was born. For me, if there is any success, it will give back to each of them and help them in their own lives. Au Pairs are not just for a year - they are for life.
So what is it that is so concerning and why do I want you to read and digest this? Therein lies the message that I am trying to convey, the BAPAA has informed all Host Families that the Au Pair Programme will end as of January 1st 2021, this is due to the UK Government not allowing any official route for Au Pairs to enter the UK when free movement ends.
Youth mobility arrangements have been mooted as a way forward, but with limited time left until January 1st, and no bilateral agreement with European countries so far, time is of the essence. This is going to have a significant and seriously detrimental effect on my family, as well as many many others.
Working unsociable and long hours, I cannot rely on the normal pre and after school clubs for the care of my children. I will have to give up work. Giving up work means losing my home. My children's home. Hosting an Au Pair means that I can give back to the community I serve, as well as giving the chance of growth to young and developing people.
Brexit is killing us. This is going to end family life as I and many others know it. There needs to be a resolution.