Posted on 4 February 2008
As part of an in-depth report, launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 59 children aged between five and 11, and 82 parents, from 70 households on incomes below £11,000 were interviewed.
"The impact of poverty on children's well-being is well established. This was a qualitative study exploring the perspectives of family members and the views of professionals working with families in different contexts. It increases our understanding of the many ways in which poverty impacts on families' lives" said Dr Carol-Ann Hooper, the lead author of the report.
The report found that children as young as five were keenly aware of the difficulties their parents faced. Some tried to alleviate their parents' stress by hiding their own needs and wishes, and giving or lending money they had received from other family members. They were also often sad, angry, frustrated or upset by the impacts of poverty on their lives and had very serious concerns about their families' circumstances.
Most studies of parenting in poverty focus on families living in deprived neighbourhoods. This study included 38 households from relatively affluent areas in Yorkshire, such as Harrogate. While these families usually had safer environments and fewer worries about crime than families in areas of high socio-economic deprivation, they also had less access to affordable activities for children and other amenities. Children's experiences of bullying were often related to poverty in the affluent areas.
The report Living with hardship 24/7: the diverse experiences of families in poverty in England is based on a two-year research project funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The University was also represented on the advisory group by Professor Ian Sinclair and Professor Jonathan Bradshaw.
Dr Carol-Ann Hooper is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work