Words by Dr. Michal Nahman
In December 2014 Charlotte Bevan, a new mother in Bristol took her own life and that of her newborn baby. NICE responded by altering its guidelines to the NHS, stating it must do more to support new mums. The work of parenting can be the most challenging and enriching in a person’s life. As an intimate process, it remains largely hidden from the view of society, and can often become an isolating experience. Collective spaces such as baby groups and play centres are a vital resource for parents struggling to maintain a connection with the wider world. However, as ‘austerity’ bites, these points of contact are pressured to adapt to the requirements of neo-liberalism or face closure. Those on the margins of society are increasingly cut off from the public sphere, left to endure the challenge of raising children alone and in isolation.
Through interviews and personal narration, Michal Nahman, an anthropologist and mother of two, foregrounds the crisis being experienced by the Bristol Children’s Playhouse, and looks at the wider effects of cuts on child and family services. Taking the viewpoints of those most susceptible to isolation, namely women, the working class, migrants and the ethnically minoritised, Atomised Mothers asks us to think and feel what isolation is.
Photo: Sarah Smith