Children feel crushed under the pressure of daily life

Posted by Emma Scowcroft / Thursday 07 November 2013 / The Red Book

Today we launched new research showing thousands of children across the UK are struggling to cope with daily life. This is the reality for vulnerable children today. Perhaps they live down your street?

Children are dealing with problems outside their control. Such as parents losing their jobs, illness, family breakdown and domestic abuse.

I’m not going to pretend that families facing problems is anything new. In fact for the past 144 years Action for Children has supported children and families in times of trouble. It’s what we do.

So what's different about today's situation? And why are we so alarmed by what we're seeing?

There is a combination of factors at play. These factors aren’t new but when taken together they create huge problems in a child’s life. 

For the people Action for Children works with, life is turbulent.

  • Whilst many people are feeling the benefit of the economy recovering, the families we work are being left behind. They are struggling day-to-day.
  • Children tell us that they feel trapped by long standing inequalities.  Problems have been passed down through generations.
  • Families are struggling to adapt to new benefit systems and lower payments.
  • Children and families are being stigmatised as social attitudes towards those claiming benefits harden.
  • Early help services that could have stopped the problems from escalating have been cut back

What does this look like in real life? 

It’s the 23 year old disabled care leaver who says he knows he’s on his own until something goes drastically wrong.  Even then he can’t rely on someone being there to help him. And the daughter who put her life on hold (aged 16) forgoing education to care for her mum. Because you can’t claim carers allowance whilst in full time education.

The 160 frontline managers who took part in our research have helped us to see beneath the top line statistics on Government spending decisions, welfare reform, service closures etc. to get to grips with how this affects the lives of children across the country. We now know that children have to cope with difficult, frightening and stressful situations that even adults in the family struggle to deal with.

So that’s the problem – what’s our solution?

To ensure early help is available for the children who need it we believe Government must prioritise early intervention by:

  • Introducing five year spending plans setting out the funding available for children’s services
  • Rolling out the Community Budget programme and enabling any savings accrued to be easily reinvested into early help services
  • Ensuring that early intervention spending can be clearly identified in Government accounts

We will be pursuing our asks in the run up to the general election (it’s really not that long away now) with all political parties -  but that doesn’t help children right now, so we’ve also launched an urgent appeal in order to reach far more children who need our help.

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