"I've been working in this sector for nearly twenty years. I was in my early twenties when I started. So many times I thought about getting out. When my husband was the only one the bank would look at for a mortgage because my wages were considered seasonal because I wasn't gauranteed work every summer. I have a degree and a level 8 Higher Diploma but I wasn't considered a proper professional. When I was garda vetted and trained in my job but I couldn't afford care for my own children because I didn't earn enough and had to opt for unregistered childminders because they were cheaper. Not disrespecting childminders, they were my saviour and were always there for my kids and my family but I was lucky I had someone who voluntary notified and was passionate about caring for my lot. 


When I would be writing up paper work in the evenings and weekends instead of spending time with my own kids I thought "what the hell am I doing this for?" Same, when I was working unpaid hours cleaning up after the kids, mopping the floors, and filling out observations or HACCP paperwork long after the children had gone home  and by the time I got home my baby was in bed and I hadn't seen him awake since the day before. 


Most of all, I've never ever earned much more than minimum wage. Even with a level 8, all my fire safety, child protection, food safety, first aid certs all done in my own time and out of my own pocket. But the main thing I worry about now is my age. What will I do when I retire? Is the State pension enough to live off? I don't have a pension, I have never had a pension. My friends think that I'm crazy and that I should have been paying into a private pension fund but I literally didn't have the money. I depend on my husband for everything. I worry about what would happen me and my kids if something happened him. I think about that at least once a week. Life shouldn't be this hard or so uncertain at my age with my qualifications. All I want is enough to live comfortable. All I want is not to have to worry."


Pre-School Teacher, Kildare. 


"I am coming to the last day of my happiest time of the year. Not just because it’s the end of Christmas but because 24 December to 2 January is the only time my service closes. The only time in the year that I don’t fear...an unhappy parent who wants a solution NOW, a staff member who can’t come in, a child has hurt another and conversation needed with both, a tap is leaking, a parent hasn’t paid so there has to be a chat, a staff member is leaving and giving a weeks notice, the insurance bill has come in and there’s a 30% increase, even though we are claim-free, there is a burst water pipe nearby so the water is off: the list of possibilities goes on. Even when on holidays the calls come about these issues, so the only time that is completely work and stress free is this blissful time when we are completely closed."


Service Owner, Dublin.