A Year of COVID-19

A report on the impact of the pandemic for children, young people and families already on the brink.

To mark one year after the first national lockdown in the UK in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are publishing evidence collected through 12 months of our Chances for Children grant giving.

In our response to COVID-19, we had distributed over £3.3million from April 2020 – January 2021. This is a 166% increase from the same period in the previous financial year, prior to the pandemic. We have supported over 3400 families during the pandemic, a 107% increase from pre-COVID-19. Our grant-giving data and the voices of the families we support shed a light on the increased crisis that families have been experiencing during COVID-19. We have analysed the data captured on the circumstances of families receiving a Chances for Children grant, to understand how COVID-19 has impacted those in crisis.

This report highlights how families, already in crisis, have been made to struggle even more during the pandemic. More families are in debt and struggling financially. Mental health problems have increased in parents and children. More children have been experiencing neglect. More children have been struggling or unable to engage in home-schooling, and parents have struggled to support this on top of dealing with trauma. Some of the key statistics that can be drawn from our data are as follows:

  • 72% of families in crisis are in debt during COVID-19, compared to only 50% beforehand.
  • 17% of children have been experiencing neglect during COVID-19, compared to 13% beforehand.
  • 13% of children have been experiencing abuse, compared to 10% beforehand.
  • 27% of parents/carers have been experiencing mental health problems during COVID-19, compared to 21% beforehand.
  • 75% of children and young people have had behavioural and emotional difficulties during COVID-19, compared to 71% beforehand.
  • 14% of children and young people have been out of education, compared to 5% beforehand.

Over the past year, families have been telling us, in their own words, how they have been impacted by COVID-19 when they complete our evaluation survey. Responses from over 560 families in crisis show that:

  • 94% of families have been negatively impacted in some way by COVID-19
  • 33% of children and/or parents have struggled with mental health problems more during the pandemic
  • 26% of families are experiencing increased financial hardship due to changes in employment / income and rises in living costs
  • 21% of families have struggled with home-schooling

Priorities within Buttle UK grant giving have shifted to ensuring that children and young people: are living in homes that are equipped to meet their basic needs; have access to education online; and have toys, games and sport equipment needed to keep them happy, entertained and stimulated at home. The proportion of families in crisis needing basics like a bed, an oven or a laptop has dramatically increased during the pandemic. Here are where we have seen some of the biggest increase in items:

  • 69% of families have received IT equipment during COVID-19 compared to 43% beforehand – spend per family has increased by 34%
  • 57% of children have received toys and books during COVID-19 compared to 23% beforehand – spend per family has increased by 60%
  • 42% of families have received white goods or appliances during COVID-19 compared to 26% beforehand – spend per family has increased by 30%

Despite the increased difficulties families have been facing, the additional support we have provided children and young people during COVID-19 has meant that we are seeing even bigger improvements in child and family outcomes after families have received a Chances for Children grant:

  • Child wellbeing improvements have remained stable at 61%
  • Education improvements have remained stable at 62%
  • Home environment improvements have increased from 66% to 76%
  • Family relationship improvements have increased from 67% to 73%

Over the next few months, the generous additional COVID-19 financial aid that donors and supporters have made available will come to an end; and so, perhaps, will the sense of emergency. However, this report demonstrates the extent of problems that have accumulated for the most vulnerable families over the last 12 months, the consequences of which will be felt for a long time yet. We also know that others will join them, as the impact of recession and job losses become more evident. While levels of need remain high, it is likely that public resources will be more stretched than they have been at any point since the 2008 financial crisis. Therefore, finding ways to make whatever resources are available to support communities go as far as possible will be more important than ever.

In response to this, Buttle UK’s Trustees have taken a decision to draw additional funds from our endowment over the next two years.  However, even with these extra funds, we know we will be unable to meet the level of need and we therefore hope that others will again join us to help create more chances for children during these very difficult, unprecedented times.

You can read a summary of the report here.
You can read the full report here.