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Women Returners' Network Chelmsford College
Moulsham Street
Essex CM2 0JQ
Phone: 01245 263796
Fax: 01245 491712

This ninth version is the first that has been set-up online. It has been updated by Andrea Lohner, WRN's Research Assistant.

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Who can provide forms of support?

While the path back to education, training or employment is not always easy, there are many types of organisations which can offer you support along the way.

Women's support groups
A wide range of national statutory and independent organisations exists to support and inform women. Only those directly pertinent to women in education, training and employment are listed here, as other directories cover the whole range of women's organisations in greater depth. Foremost among these, of course, is The Women Returners Network.

A growing number of employers have set up career-break policies enabling their staff to take time off for domestic responsibilities and to return to work at the same level in due course. Banks, Building Societies and various branches of the Civil Service lead the way in this field but many key industrial and commercial companies have also adopted `family-friendly` career-break policies.

Professional associations
Women who belong to professional associations may also find that their association offers `keeping-in-touch` facilities enabling updating of skills and a smoother return to work. If you are a member of a professional association, enquire whether it has any facilities to assist members on a career break, and if not, why not?

Childcare organisations
After-school clubs and other childcare facilities are not necessarily available across the country, and where they do exist, often have long waiting lists. Childcare can also be expensive for parents on low incomes. National sources of information on childcare provision are listed here.

Employers' career break schemes

Abbey National PLC,
9 Nelson Street, Bradford, BD1 5AN, tel 0800 0283803,
Contact: Beverly Brogan

Offers a career break scheme for up to five years, which allows staff to return to the same level of work. Reduced grade and part-time schemes are also offered, which allow staff to step down a grade for a period and then return to the original grade. A range of flexible working options is available.

Boots the Chemist,
Head Office, Nottingham NG2 3AA, tel 0115 9506111
Operates a career-break scheme for both Store and Head Office staff, as well as flexible working hours, term-time working and job share.

British Council,
Employment Relations Unit, 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN,
tel 0207 9308466, fax 0207 3894961, website

Career break schemes are available for employees with family responsibilities, employees who need to accompany a partner overseas, compassionate or domestic reasons and any other reason agreed with management. The Council allows a break in service of up to seven years. Information, including job vacancies, is regularly sent to staff taking up these options and staff in category 1 undertake to return to the workplace for a period of two to four weeks each year for updating and to aid the keeping-in-touch process. Return to work at the end of unpaid leave is at the same grade/seniority. Flexible working patterns are available to staff (flexible working hours, part time working, job-sharing including a job-sharers` network, and parents` contracts). Nursery places, a childcare voucher scheme and a Women's Development Programme are available.

British Gas PLC,
Corporate Human Resources, Rivermill House, 152 Grosvenor Road, London SW1V 3JL
tel. 0171 821 1444

Operates a career support scheme, which includes the following provisions: at the end of maternity leave an employee is eligible to return to work on their existing contract or an alternative contract, which may include arrangements such as job-sharing, flexible hours, or shorter contractual hours, subject to operational requirement. Employees who have completed at least 12 months service at the beginning to the 11th week before their, or their partner's, expected week of confinement, are eligible to take a career break (3 month -2-years). On return to work the Company will offer an appropriate post to the employee. Alternatively, an employee may opt to join the Reservist Scheme for up to five years, during which time they are kept in touch with the company, offered temporary work and are given preference over external applicants if they wish to return at the end of the period. A childcare allowance for pre-school children is available for employees returning from maternity leave or a career break.

Exxon Mobil,
Exxon Mobil House, Ermyn Way, Weatherhead, Surrey KT22 889X,
tel 01372 222000, fax 01372 223315,
Contact: Lynne Tetley

Exxon Mobil has introduced a career break scheme for male and female staff who can take up five years off for domestic reasons. A keeping-in-touch scheme is in operation and staff is encouraged to return to work for short periods to keep their skills up to date.

9 Millbank, London SW1P 3JF, tel 0207 8344444, fax. 0207 8342042
ICI operates a career-bridge scheme of up to five years' full time leave, with protection of contractual employment benefits on return to work, or the opportunity to return to work part time for a defined period. Flexible working is also available to men and women.

Lloyds TSB PLC,
PO Box 112, Canons House, Canons Way, Bristol BS99 7LB tel. 0117 943 3433
Contact: Sally Evans, Manager, Equal Opportunities

Employees at all levels with at least five years continuous service and good performance are eligible for a five-year career break with guaranteed employment on return at the same grade as when they left. Several breaks are possible as long as total absence is not more than five years. Regular contact will be maintained to keep staff abreast of developments whilst on career break. On return to work any request for flexible working patters will be carefully considered.

The Littlewoods Organisation,
100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool L70 1AB tel. 0151 235 2900
The Littlewoods Organisation PLC offers a career break scheme to male and female staff who have a minimum of one year's service. The scheme includes keeping in touch, updating of skills and knowledge and a phased return. The scheme allows for a maximum break of 5 years. Every endeavour is made to provide an opportunity to return. Service will be deemed to be continuous only excluding the career break period.

Unilever UK,
Unilever House, Blackfriars, London EC4P 4BQ,
tel 0207 822 5449, fax 0207 8225970, website

The career break scheme is open to all managers with more than 3 years service. Most of our operating companies have also extended this to all employees. They can take up to 5 years career break for various reasons and, although we cannot guarantee their return in almost very case, we have managed to find a suitable opportunity for returners.

Other organisations operating career break schemes include:

Avon Cosmetics Ltd,
Nunn Mills Road, Northampton, NN1 5PA,
tel 0160 4617210, fax 0160 4617011.
Contact: Bridie Pollard

Bank of England,
Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH.
Contact: Jackie Benson

Bank of Scotland,
Group Human Resources, Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, Edinburgh EH4 2UZ, Contact: Employee Relations, tel 0131 3437423, fax 0131 3437448,

Glaxo Wellcome PLC,
Stockley Park West, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB11 1BT,
tel 0208 990 2558, fax 0208 9902939, email,
Contact: Ian Brown, HR Manager

Halifax Building Society,
Halifax Group Plc, Trinity Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 2RG, tel 01422 333333 (switchboard), tel 01422 333597, fax 01422 391309, email,
Contact: Gill Dawson, Equal Opportunities Manager

HSBC Bank plc,
1st Floor, St Magnus House, 3 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6HA,
tel 0207 2607427, fax 0207 2606575,
Contact: Heidi Meier

London Borough of Greenwich and Hillingdon,
Civic Centre, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1UW,
tel 01895 250649, fax 01895 250823, email
Contact: Tracy Walters/Mary Castro, Personnel Adviser

Nationwide Building Society,
Nationwide House Piper's Way, Swindon SN38 2GN,
tel 01793 655106, fax 01793 656551, email,
Contact Liz Matthews

Royal Bank of Scotland,
PO BOX 31, 42 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH2 2YE,
tel 0131 5232098, fax 0131 5234343, email, website, Contact: Anne Sloan

Surrey County Council,
Inner City House, 1-7 Warren Raod, Reigate, Surrey RH2 0BE,
tel 01737 223690, fax 01737 226867.
Contact: Jacky Pasfield, Team Manager

The Woolwich,
Watlang Street, Bexleyhealth, Kent DA6 7RR, tel 0208 2985719, fax 01322 555672,
email, website
Contact: Terry Coode, Group HR Manager

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