Parenting crisis amid cuts, says charity
The children’s charity Spurgeons has warned of a ‘parenting crisis’ as cuts reduce support
The latest findings in its annual Parent Report 'paint a picture of a society in which parents are struggling to cope and have little support,' said the charity, which has been working with vulnerable children since it was founded by Baptist pastor CH Spurgeon more than 150 years ago.
The online YouGov poll reveals that one in 10 (12 per cent) of all British parents with children aged 18 and under feel out of their depth all or most of the time. A further 43 per cent are worried about their children getting into a physically or mentally abusive relationship; more than a third (35 per cent) are worried about them self-harming, while 30 per cent of parents of children aged 18 and under are worried about their children getting involved in gang activity.
More than a third (37 per cent) of those polled say there’s not enough support for parents to help with family challenges like conflict, divorce and abuse. Over half (55 per cent) of parents say they are aware of financial cuts to support services in their area in the last five years in services such as children’s centres (38 per cent), play activities (34 per cent), support with disabilities or Special Educational Needs (29 per cent) and antenatal and postnatal services (22 per cent).
As a direct result of cuts to services, more than one in 10 feel less confident as a parent (11 per cent) or have not been able to care as well for their child(ren) (6 per cent).
Spurgeons’ Deputy Chief Executive, Paul Ringer, said, 'Our research backs up what we already know: that many families are feeling overwhelmed and affected by rapidly shrinking support services. This ‘parenting crisis’ is bad for families from all backgrounds, but it’s even worse for the most vulnerable in society.
'Any one of us could end up in a position where we need help from services like ours; and we have seen more and more of this happening in the current economic climate. It’s vital that families get the support they need, when they need it. With the right help, parents can be the solutions to the challenges their children face.
'Supporting and empowering parents is key – so they know where to turn, so every child, particularly those who are struggling at home, are caring for a relative or have a parent in prison, can look to the future with a sense of hope.”
Speaking to The Baptist Times about the findings, he highlighted the crucial role the church plays in helping vulnerable children 'pick up the pieces'.
'There are over 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK today, with around 400,000 classed by child protection service as being in need. At Spurgeons, we work with thousands of these children every year – they are the vulnerable, marginalised, isolated, and exploited – and the need for our support is increasing.
'It is often the church, directly and indirectly, that helps pick up these pieces. By working with families struggling to cope, supporting children carrying heavy burdens and protecting the young from harm and exploitation.
'Our vision is to give every child the opportunity to live a hope filled life; and to do this well we need to work closely with other Christians and churches across the country. By working in partnership with others, in particular with churches, we can help to plug the gap service cuts are leaving behind; and be the hope and light they need for a better future.
'We hope that even more churches and their congregations will join us, in both prayer and deed, as we look to increase our support to those who need us most in local communities across England.'
Spurgeons is one of the UK's leading children's charities, supporting children and families affected by social disadvantage. In the last year it supported more than 23,000 children and 57,000 parents or carers.
The charity’s services ensure vulnerable children and families can access the help they need for a better future. It aims to help them better cope with their difficulties and provide them with resources and support to find long lasting solutions to challenging problems.
Find out more at spurgeons.org. Download its Parent Survey 2018 at spurgeons.org/parentreport