WOMEN in key worker positions across the North-East are feeling the strain of the pandemic, research shows.

More than 2,600 women from the region responded to a survey by trade union Unison, which represents a range of public sector workers including from schools, health and social care and local government.

The report Women Working Through the Pandemic was released today, alongside the start of Unison's Empowering Women virtual conference.

The results show the huge strain of working during the Covid crisis with nearly two thirds not sleeping well, more than half (54 per cent) not taking regular breaks and a significant number (56 per cent) feeling stressed most of the time.

The impact of the pandemic on children is also a source of anxiety for many. Of the women who are parents, three in five are worried about the mental health of their children and 45 per cent are concerned about how their education is being affected.

Unison is calling on the government to ensure employers offer staff more flexibility over when they work and not to take long hours for granted, fund childcare properly so it’s affordable and accessible for key workers and maintain the £20 increase to the universal credit allowance.

Regional secretary Clare Williams said: “Public services would have come to a standstill without the vital jobs done by women in our schools, hospitals, police forces and local councils.

“But employees are exhausted. They’re worn out from meeting work demands during Covid while caring for relatives, looking after children and dealing with debt. Those on low wages are the ones shouldering these burdens most of all.

"All women deserve better and this country’s economic recovery depends on them. But their mental and physical health is at stake. The government needs to step up by providing the funding and support to make their working lives easier.”