Following her own struggles in finding rental accommodation and the isolation of single parenthood, Willo Ford decided to BE the change. Through ShareAbode, she is now on a mission to make a significant difference in the social, emotional and economic lives of single parent families in Australia. We chat to this inspirational mama to find out more.
I made a conscious choice to become a single parent and it was a very difficult choice. Not because I would have had to become the financial, emotional or logistical be all and end all in my children’s lives, but because of the stigma associated with single mums by society.
I was very isolated where I was, which was not ideal for the loneliness of nights and nap times, and I felt like no one else understood what I was going through. I tried to come to peace with this by keeping busy with a million different visits to the beach, park and shopping centres so we were all active and occupied. I paved new relationships with family members that I hadn’t spoken to since high school but lived in the same state, and through this I gradually created family for my children and routine and known faces for all of us.
I am the role model for my children and I want them to model responsibility, self-worth and caring for others and I only could have got to that point had I taken the steps I did.
“With over 961 thousand single parent families and two thirds of them in poverty, this platform has the opportunity to really shake up those figures and help those struggling out of poverty and those wanting more to get more.”
ShareAbode was founded by my own experiences of hardship renting in the early days of my single parent journey. I got rejected time and again for rental properties because the owner wanted a traditional family unit in their home (seriously, were we not a family?), and with my inability to show proof of rental recommendations in the past or current income it was a very challenging time. I had no rental history because I had owned and lived in my own home for 10 years prior, and I had sold my business along with that home (living off the savings from that) so I didn’t have a regular income either. I didn’t look good on paper at all!
In the end, it took my mum saying she was going to be renting and I was just living wither her for a real estate agent to say ‘yes’. I remember thinking how much it sucked and that I wanted to make a difference, and that’s when I thought of creating something that would make it easier for single parents and help them help each other.
ShareAbode works on the principle that two single parents raising children together, sharing resources, rent and living expenses together can achieve more than one going it alone. If rent and expenses are halved then savings will be doubled and financial obligations for a single parent would be less stressful. A less stressed parent is a more capable parent. The benefit emotionally is there too, because single parents have each other to lean on through the tough times dealing with kids, past partner problems or general everyday downs.
It’s also easier to rent with two incomes showing as pre-qualified candidates, and this is another aspect of ShareAbode – we connect people that would get along and we also help with paperwork and documents saving them time, stress and easing the load.
I don’t think we are meant to go life alone and this creates a little village for a tribe that really needs it.
Children can benefit in many ways, especially if they are only children and the sharing parents have kids of similar ages. It’s like having an ‘unofficial’ sibling, and they can establish a relationship which is not just dependent on the one parent but also on the other parent and their child or children. Through watching their single parent and another single parent build a relationship, children from previously negative home situations can also re-learn, gaining valuable life skills such as conflict resolution, negotiation, compromise, and sharing in a healthy way. They may not have ever experienced these things before with their parents so they are getting a good opportunity to grow and expand.
The service is totally free. You can sign up and create a profile listing as a home sharer (share your home) or home seeker (seeking a home) at shareabode.com.au and I am available at any time by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we are also on social media: Facebook at facebook.com/shareabode and Instagram @shareabode.