More than half of us don’t realise how many families are struggling to cope with multiple pressures such as bereavement, disability, unemployment and poor housing, new research shows.

Neil Bent, Chair of Trustees for Home-Start UK.

Neil Bent, Chair of Trustees for Home-Start UK.

A survey by YouGov for family support charity Home-Start suggests the public are underestimating how many families are struggling with multiple challenges. Home-Start believes this may be because families are putting on a ‘brave face’ and trying to keep problems behind closed doors.

Releasing the new research to tie in with its annual appeal for funds to help vulnerable children, Home-Start urged families overwhelmed by hardship and tragedy to reach out for support; because when parents are overwhelmed, they struggle to provide the love and routine that is so crucial to their children’s wellbeing.

Neil Bent, Chair of Trustees for Home-Start UK, said:

“We know that at any time, one in four families has to cope with multiple pressures – everything from mental health difficulties to bereavement*. But when our charity asked the British public, more than half (55%) thought the figure was much lower, with 38% choosing one-in-10 and 17% thinking it was just one in 20.

“It may be that people don’t see the full extent of the problems facing families because of parents’ desire to mask them. This may be a result of cultural factors, like the British ‘stiff upper lip’, feelings of shame or inadequacy, or just becoming overwhelmed by the situation.”

A previous study by Home-Start UK and YouGov showed that around two-thirds of parents believed being perceived as a ‘bad parent’ was the worst criticism a mother or father could imagine receiving, raising concerns that families may not seek outside support for fear of being judged.

Neil continued:

“While most of the families we work with are referred to us by professionals in health, schools or social services, we are happy for families to refer themselves. We regularly see incredible parents who are struggling with really difficult circumstances. Often it just takes a little support to help families through a difficult time, so parents should never be afraid to ask for support when they need it.

“Our services are confidential and non-judgemental, and our volunteers, all of whom have parenting experience, work directly in the home. Making sure we can reach all the families and support vulnerable children is why our appeals for funding are so important.”

Editor’s Notes:

Home-Start is one of the UK’s leading family support charities. We recruit and train volunteers to support parents, in their own homes, with at least one child under the age of eight. The charity was set up in 1973 and now has a network of more than 300 Home-Starts supporting nearly 32,000 families and almost 70,000 children each year.
Nearly 16,000 volunteers visit families in their own homes – parents supporting other parents in a variety of situations including isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness or disability. Home-Start High Peak, 26 Spring Gardens, Buxton, Derbyshire. SK17 6DE. Company number 5400539. Registered Charity number 1110053.

For further media enquiries please call Neil Bent, Chair of Home-Start High Peak, on 07957 143 450.