Loneliness among parents of young children has “dramatically increased” during the pandemic, suggests research from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation.
The charity gathered views from half a million people in the UK on bringing up children under the age of five. It found parents increasingly worried about feeling cut off from support, particularly in more deprived areas.
The report from the Royal Foundation shows parents under emotional pressure in the pandemic – with 528,000 responses, it is claimed to be one of the biggest ever survey into childhood – and the duchess says problems in adult life, such as “homelessness, addiction, and poor mental health are often grounded in a difficult childhood”.
The report highlighted the fact that separation from family, friends and support networks during the lockdown has taken a heavy psychological toll on parents of young children – with 63% reporting feelings of loneliness, compared with 38% before the pandemic. The research also showed that parents neglected their own well-being, with only 10% taking time to think about their own mental health.
Ian Soars, CEO of Fegans, remarks that ‘ loneliness is always hard, and loneliness in adversity is hardest of all as we have no-one to share our struggles with. Parents may have been struggling before the pandemic and the lockdown will have exacerbated any existing feeling of anxiety and loneliness. Stoicism has got us all this far, but there just doesn’t seem an end in sight for many and although hope is a strong motivator, there are still difficult times ahead for families.
‘So, we encourage everyone to pick up the phone to an old friend, reach out to those we used to have a coffee with, and text parents who may be having a tough time. Just a little encouragement goes a long way and we can get through this together. For anyone that needs more help, we stand ready to step in and care.’
Our Parent Support colleagues are available for anyone who is finding life challenging. Referrals can be made by schools, Early Help, church workers, or any other agencies involved with the family. We will also welcome self-referrals from parents themselves. Details are available here.