Press Release: One Parent Families website, 4 October 2000

JK Rowling officially launched the One Parent Families web site on 4 October 2000. A lone mum herself, she also announced that she has decided to become an Ambassador for One Parent Families, and that she has made a substantial donation to the charity to help them with their latest fundraising appeal.

Ms Rowling said at the launch:

A lot of the articles about me have the phrase 'penniless single mother' somewhere in them. Three years ago it was in the headline, nowadays it comes somewhere towards the middle of the article, just to emphasise the change in my fortunes. I'm not complaining, nor am I ashamed of having been where I was five years ago. It does sadden me slightly, though, that people are rarely surprised that I, or any other single mother, should have been penniless. There seems to be widespread acceptance that the two things generally go together.

Six out of ten families headed by a single parent are living in poverty. None of the lone parents I know wants to live on handouts; just like parents living in couples we want the chance to provide properly for our own children. I have been phenomenally lucky, of course; I would have been lucky even without a certain wizard. I had a degree, a profession and friends who were willing and able to lend me money when I badly needed it. So if I met obstacles in pulling myself out of the benefit system and back into employment, how much more difficult must it be for people who don't have the same advantages? If I experienced feelings of utter worthlessness during interviews with the CSA and the Benefit Office, how many other parents are going through the same experience right now?

Single-parenthood is not all stress and hardship. My flesh and blood daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me, including my fictional son. Jessica has been a constant source of pride, joy and motivation since the day she was born, but I don't want her to grow up in a society that tells her that her upbringing is second rate, nor do I want her to grow up in a society where children just like her are trapped in poverty because they have had the misfortune to see their parents split up. It's convenient to look right over these children's heads at the parent left raising them and place blame, rather than see the reality: somebody striving, in the face of great odds, to give their children every opportunity they can. It's definitely time we exploded the popular myth that most lone parents are feckless teenagers trying to get council flats. Only three per cent of us are teenagers; sixty per cent of us have been married and are now separated, divorced or bereaved. I'd like to see widespread acceptance of the fact that families simply come in many shapes and sizes. Mine may be the smallest variety you can get, but we are as much a family as the Waltons, or the Weasleys.

I am very proud to be the new Ambassador for the National Council for One Parent Families, proud to help work towards a fairer deal for a group of people who need to be supported, not stigmatised. Seven years after becoming a lone parent myself, I feel qualified to look anyone in the eye and say that people bringing up children single-handedly deserve, not condemnation, but congratulation. We do two people's jobs single-handedly even before we take on paid work. I would like to think that the day will come when the phrase 'single mother' and the word 'penniless' do not go together quite as easily as they do now and that there will be much less surprise the next time one of us turns up in the newspapers as a success story.