BLOG: Ben Stephen on Shared Parental Leave

There has been so much in the press recently about shared parental leave, and the lack of take up with just 1% of families taking advantage of the scheme since it’s introduction in 2015, that we thought it would be interesting to follow new Dad, Ben Stephen, Head of Production & Premises at The Albany Performing Arts Centre, Deptford, as he embarks on his 8 weeks Shared Parental Leave…

“Yesterday was day one – went pretty well.  We managed a trip out to the post office and I bought a new pair of jeans in Lewisham – had to carry the buggy with sleeping baby down three flights of stairs to look at the menswear section (lift out of action). I’m not sure my partner would have managed that.
I’m Ben Stephen (37) – Head of Production & Premises at the Albany, Deptford.  I’m spending the next 8 weeks on shared parental leave as primary carer for Theo. He’s 8 months old and my partner Catherine has gone back to work full time. I’ve already been as involved as I can be – I took 2 weeks of holiday in addition to my paternity leave when Theo was born and he’s been a fairly regular feature at the Albany (see picture).
I’ve been working at The Albany for 5 years, I started life as a lighting technician but have been a jack of all trades. One of my favourite Albany recurring gigs is 21st Century Tea Dance with Entelechy Arts which I quite often sound engineer. I love the openness to all people and ages even though the event is primarily aimed at isolated elders.  I love the wicked sense of humour that comes with wisdom and experience.
Catherine works in theatre too, and we’d been talking about SPL before Theo was born, and flexible working.  We had Theo pretty late in life (at least in comparison to our parents), although at a fairly normal age for career-conscious theatre people working in London. I guess one of the biggest motivators to do it was the experience of our friend Rob (a fellow arts manager), who took SPL to spend time with his family last summer.”


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