I know we can’t offer to babysit the kids, arrange a day out or invite them round for dinner, but there are other ways to reach out
February 4, 2021 1:49 am
Many parents feel they have no one to ask for help, or that they would be judge if they admitted they were struggling .
A survey out this week revealed parental loneliness continues to rise during the pandemic from 38 per cent before the emergence of Coronavirus to 55 per cent in the latest lockdown.
This comes as no surprise to me, but what did make me raise an eyebrow was that half of parents with children under five say they have no one to ask for help.
As the coronavirus crisis persists, families will continue to find things tough – financially, socially and emotionally. Many parents or carers of really little ones have never felt more isolated.
My children, Alvina and Aston, are adults now, so I’m lucky I don’t have the worry of trying to juggle home-schooling with working, washing, cooking, cleaning and coming up with ways to entertain young children. It must be exhausting. No wonder so many have hit crisis point.
What really saddens me, though, is that one in three parents fears they would be judged if they asked for help. I get it. No one wants to feel inadequate or like they a burden to anyone else. But I am a big believer in it taking a village to raise a child. I had lots of support from family and friends when my children were growing up. So I can empathise with how difficult it must be parenting in lockdown without playgroups, parent’s clubs, coffee mornings or friends just popping in for a chat. These informal support networks are vital when you have young children.
It is vital that we give parents the support they need, as when families hit crisis point it is often the children that suffer.
The good news is that there is help out there. Charities across the UK are on hand to make sure that people in crisis have someone to talk to. NSPCC has a helpline, Action for Children has a Parent Talk advice service, and Home-Start has a network of trained volunteers helping families with young children.
It is reassuring to know that such services exist, but I strongly believe we all have a part to play in making sure parents and carers don’t get to crisis point in the first place. I know we can’t offer to babysit the kids, arrange a day out or invite them round for dinner, but there are other ways to help.
Save the Children, Barnardos, Kids Matter and Home-Start are among 17 leading charities joining forces to support a campaign encouraging people to do a #LittleGoodDeed, inviting us all to reach out and help parents of babies and toddlers that might be struggling. Sometimes a friendly phone call is all it takes to let someone know they are not alone. A note through a door; dropping a cake on the doorstop or organising a surprise takeaway delivery can go a long way to giving parents a boost and reminding them they have someone to talk to. It is vital that we give parents the support they need, as when families hit crisis point it is often the children that suffer.re
For the last 40 years I have campaigned on behalf of children. For 20 years I lobbied three past Prime Ministers to have a Minister for Children to oversee the interests of children and young people, until we eventually got one in 2003. This Government talks about the need to ‘build back better’ after the Covid-19 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.
A cabinet-level ministerial portfolio for Early Years is what I’m calling for, so we can achieve a greater streamlining of policy and services at national and local government levels. In the meantime, I will be getting involved by doing a #LittleGoodDeed as often as I can. No matter what our circumstances, we can and must be in this together, because, as I always say childhood lasts a lifetime.
Find out more at LittleGoodDeed.org.uk. Lady Benjamin is a patron of Home-Start Westminster