I am writing a story set in the late 1970s in England. One of my characters, a 17 year old girl, gets pregnant, and the father of the baby disappears for various reasons. I want my story to be as realistic and historically accurate as possible, so I would like to know what kind of situations would my character believably have to face.
I have done some research on the subject, and I found that in the late 60s "although society is less punitive towards the mother than [...] fifty years ago, there is still considerable residual hostility to single mothers", as this article put it. It is my understanding that in the 70s, opinions and attitudes varied wildly among social groups. However I have not been able to find a real answer to my questions: what was the social condition, overall, of a pregnant single woman (let's say even an older teen) in the late 70s in England? Was she able to get a job while pregnant or after the pregnancy? Could she finish her education? Would she reasonably be able to talk about her problems and go to friends or family for help, or was it more likely for her to try and face her problems alone out of shame, as some women did ten or twenty years earlier? Was an illigitimate pregnancy still considered a huge scandal by some, especially in the middle class? Did hostels for unmarried mothers still exist?
(P.S.: sorry for any mistake, English is not my first language).