William Eichler 23 March 2020

Families living in poverty ‘struggling to keep heads above water’

Families living in poverty ‘struggling to keep heads above water’ image

A children’s charity has launched an emergency appeal to help families who fear they will ‘go under’ as a result of the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the health crisis hit, nearly one in every three children in the UK was living in poverty. Action for Children warns that the economic impact of Covid-19 will push even more families to breaking point.

The charity carried out telephone interviews with workers representing 60 of its frontline services across the UK, including children’s centres, services for disabled children and young carers.

Families reported being most worried about not being able to afford food, followed by electricity and gas, then nappies. Other concerns raised included access to baby formula and uncertainty over help paying the rent if they can’t work.

The vast majority of frontline workers interviewed said they were already speaking to parents worried about having enough money to stay afloat during the outbreak.

Nearly two thirds said they didn’t think the Government was doing enough for children during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘The coronavirus crisis has exploded into the lives of vulnerable children and families at a time when millions were already struggling to keep their heads above water – and now are terrified of going under,’ said Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive of Action for Children.

‘Action for Children’s frontline staff, who were running unofficial foodbanks to help those at risk of going hungry before the outbreak, are overwhelmed by the sheer desperation of frightened families who fear they can’t afford to keep children and babies warm and well fed. Some are even donating food from their own cupboards to help keep families from going under.

‘Coronavirus has thrown all our lives, our communities and the UK into unprecedented crisis –families need to know they are not on their own. Our support workers will keep battling to help families come out the other side of this - but they need your help. We’re asking people to help a family hit by the coronavirus crisis and donate to Action for Children.’

The power of local systems to save lives image

The power of local systems to save lives

Councils and their partners could do even more to contain the spread of COVID-19 if properly funded to undertake a robust localised system of testing, tracking and tracing, argues Professor Donna Hall.
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