New research shows half of parents of under 5s are struggling to cope

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HOME-START JOINS CHILDREN’S CHARITIES IN WARNING THAT SUPPORT FOR PARENTS IS VITAL AS MORE THAN HALF OF PARENTS OF UNDER 5s ARE STRUGGLING TO COPE

New research reveals over 60 per cent of parents of under 5s feel they are letting their children down as anniversary of first lockdown approaches

    • Parental loneliness continues to increase during the pandemic
    • Over half of parents of under 5s are now struggling to cope (54%)
    • 57 per cent feel too uncomfortable to ask for help
    • 1 in 3 of those parent fear they will be judged if they ask for support
    • Yet 79% of the British public would do a #LittleGoodDeed to help a parent of an under 5 struggling in lockdown

A new YouGov survey reveals over half (54%) of parents with children under 5 have struggled to cope in the last month of lockdown, with 57 per cent admitting they feel too uncomfortable asking for help right now – a 22 percentage point rise in the last 4 months(1).

Worryingly half (50 per cent) of parents with under 5s say they have no one to ask for help. This equates to over 1 million (3) families across the UK going without the emotional, social or financial support they need.

Today’s figures show parental loneliness continues to increase during the pandemic from 38 per cent before the Covid crisis hit to over 50 per cent (55%) during the last month.

Furthermore almost 2 thirds (64%) of parents of under 5s sometimes felt like they are letting their kids down in the past few weeks, with a similar number (63 per cent) admitting to sometimes feeling inadequate as a parent. Over 1 in 3 parents (36%) have been reduced to tears more often in the last four weeks of lockdown.

However there is help out there and 79% of the UK public said they would do a #LittleGoodDeed to help a parent of a child under 5 that has never felt more isolated.

In light of this research (commissioned by charitable foundation Kindred2), Home-Start, Action for Children, Barnardos, NSPCC, Save the Children and others are supporting a campaign encouraging people to do a #LittleGoodDeed, calling on the nation to reach out to parents and carers to check they are ok.

#LittleGoodDeeds launches on Thursday 4 February when the nation is being asked to do a Covid safe good deed for a parent or carer that might be struggling. Something as simple as phoning for a chat, posting a note through the door or perhaps dropping off a surprise cake, can help let parents know that they are not alone.

Home-Start knows the power of reaching out to parents who are struggling. Through a community network of 13,500 volunteers we provide emotional and practical support to 27,000 families.

The good news is that over three quarters of the population (79%) would do a good deed for a parent with little ones if they knew they were struggling. Sue Walker from Long Eaton is a Home-Start volunteer. She says “I raised my children as a single mum for 11 years. I was lucky as I had a supportive and loving family close by, but even with that help, it was tough. Without support I know it is so much harder. That’s why I became a volunteer with Home-Start so I can help other families who need it. I support two mums who can contact me whenever they need to. They know they have someone they can depend on. But you don’t have to be a volunteer to be able to help. There are so many little things you can do to spread some happiness and joy.  During the first lockdown, I mended a little girl’s favourite blanket. I turned several blanket holes into a flower design, complete with ribbons. Sadie, the little girl was so happy with it.”

Baroness Floella Benjamin, Patron of Home-Start Westminster says “I believe you should always give as much as possible to try and make a difference wherever or whenever you can. For the last 40 years I have campaigned on behalf of children. This Government talks about the need to ‘build back better’ after the Covid pandemic.  So I hope this will increase a greater focus on the needs of our youngest and a growing awareness of the impact these first years have on later life chances. In the meantime, I will be getting involved by doing a #LittleGoodDeed as often as I can to make sure parents who might be struggling know they are not alone.”

‘#LittleGoodDeeds like this can be life changing’ says TV presenter and mum of two Saira Khan as she backs the campaign.

“Right now parents of babies and very young children in particular have never been more isolated,” Saira warns.  “Many are feeling alone, others overworked and under-supported, lots struggle with home-schooling, working and juggling multiple roles at the same time.  This research shows you are not alone. 80% of  people across the UK want to help’.

Vivien Waterfield Director of fundraising and communications at Home Start says “We know that parents of babies and very young children in particular have never been more isolated. But parents often find it difficult to ask for help for fear of being judged. We can all do something to reach out and help parents who are struggling. Even during current restrictions, something as simple as a phone call or a letter, a smile or a ‘how are you?’  can remind people that they are not alone and give them the emotional support they need.”

A website has been set up www.littlegooddeed.org.uk which offers simple tips and ideas on how to reach out to people with young children, including a simple friendly phone call, offering to drop off dinner or setting up a children’s online activity to help give parents a break. It is also a hub for accessing support from the UK’s leading children’s charities including Home-Start.

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