Charities call on government to put young people at the heart of decision-making
In a new survey, researchers find poverty at the heart of the issues facing children while young people express “frustration” at politicians’ lack of understanding.
New data released by the Children’s Charities Coalition highlights how children feel politicians fail to understand their experiences and are disregarding their voices ahead of the upcoming General Election.
The Children’s Charities Coalition, a partnership of leading UK children’s charities including Action for Children, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, the National Children’s Bureau and NSPCC, surveyed between 1,000 children and 1,000 adults.
The findings have been released to bring attention to the widespread worries surrounding the lives and well-being of children and adolescents. As the next General Election approaches, the Coalition's Children at the Table campaign, in partnership with young individuals and backed by more than 75 charitable organizations, is urging the future UK Government to prioritize infants, children, and young people in policy making.
The charities surveyed 1,000 children and 1,000 adults which revealed 62% of children in the UK do not believe that politicians have a proper understanding of the challenges facing today's youth, whilst 73% of children don’t feel heard by politicians.
66% of individuals felt excluded from having a say in the decisions made by politicians regarding matters that are significant to them.
The survey also revealed that only 34% of adults maintain a sense of optimism regarding the future prospects for children residing in the UK.
When queried about their preferences for politicians to focus on to help better the lives of children and young individuals, over a quarter of children (27%) highlighted the importance of aiding families facing financial difficulties and ensuring access to essential necessities.
Commenting on the lack of support, a 16-year-old girl who contacted the NSPCC’s Childline last year said: “We don’t have much money and are barely affording to buy food. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to going back to school is because there isn’t the uncertainty of when or if I’ll get to eat.”
Additionally, nearly one in five (18%) emphasized the need for prioritizing mental health support for children and young people.
Another 17 year old caller to Childline highlighted the lack of support for mental health from the government.
“I’m at a point where I don’t want tomorrow to come. Every day I wake up filled with anxiety about what will go wrong next. I’ve asked for help, but nothing has been sorted yet, it feels pointless asking again.”
The campaign is supported by a number of social work organisations, including the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers Union (SWU), who said: “Every child deserves the best possible start in life, free from poverty and disadvantage. The next government at Westminster must make this an immediate reality.”
Sir Peter Wanless, CEO at NSPCC, said that poverty was a large driver of the issues facing children today.
“Over a quarter of our children are living in poverty and there is an escalating mental health crisis which has left services struggling to cope with the rising demand.
“At the same time there are increasing numbers of children persistently absent from school, at risk of abuse, exploitation and online harm, and being taken into care when families break down under the strain.
“We need a commitment to a transformational change to UK childhoods from the very top of government and the next general election presents a key opportunity to address the urgent issues facing babies, children and young people today.”
Paul Carberry, CEO at Action for Children, added: “Around 4.2 million children are growing up in poverty and the wellbeing and mental health of the country’s children is in decline.”
Recent reports indicate alarming statistics regarding the well-being of children in the UK. It's estimated that over a quarter of children in the country live in poverty, and approximately 1.4 million are believed to be affected by mental health disorders.
Research conducted by The Children's Society in November revealed that 1 in 5 children (20%) express concerns about their family's financial situation, while half of them report being 'sometimes' worried (52%).
You can sign the petition here: https://childrenatthetable.org.uk/
£38,223 to £40,221
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