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Coronavirus: Our UK response

Helping families get through the crisis

The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on all UK kids, but for our poorest kids there's real risk they face falling even further behind. We've been working in the UK since the 1920s, and with your support we're responding to the urgent needs of struggling families across the nation.


The effect on UK families

Over four million children live in poverty in the UK, and the coronavirus outbreak has put even more families on the brink of poverty. We can't let that number rise.


With earnings reduced or gone, some parents are struggling to provide basics such as food, and support their children's education at home. This crisis mean kids' growth and development, mental health and wellbeing are at real risk. 


What are the four key issues families face?

Supplies in food banks are limited, and food, hygiene and baby products in shops are often low or out of stock. This is particularly tough for families who have tight budgets and need essentials such as nappies, baby milk and cleaning supplies.

Already overstretched parents are now dealing with the added pressure of financial uncertainty. They’re also having to cope with reduced access to social support networks and full-time childcare – often living in limited space and lacking resources. Parents need clear information and signposting to key services.

For many families, their main priority is to ensure that children are fed and looked after, meaning they don’t have time to support their children’s learning as much as they would like. Children need to keep up their routines and include time for play and learning, while parents need tips and information to support their children’s learning at home

Being able to get on the internet is essential for many home learning resources, as well as receiving public health information and connecting with local communities. Many families living in poverty don’t have access to Wi-Fi, or don’t have the right kind of devices to support their children’s learning and development. 


Save the children's response

Families need immediate relief, but also require medium and longer-term support to ensure they can get through the crisis. How we're helping:

Our emergency response

We know that parental engagement and the home learning environment are key to children’s development. Therefore, we have developed an emergency package for families affected by COVID-19, which offers:

  • Early learning resources, including educational toys and books
  • Food e-vouchers that can be used in major supermarkets or online
  • Household products to support the home learning environment, such as a table and chairs
  • Advice on how to support their children’s learning at home, information on available services, tips on explaining coronavirus to their children and how they can manage their own stress.

This emergency grant response for parents and children at home is being delivered in 18 areas across the UK, having been scaled up due to funding received.

This vital support will reduce parent’s stress, improve children’s home learning and ensure families get the essentials they desperately need.  

Via a simple online process, local partners such as health visitors and family support workers can refer struggling families for an emergency grant. To make sure we’re reaching the families who most need support, families need to meet a set of criteria – for instance, they must have a child aged 0-6 who is a risk of falling further behind in their early learning,  be living on a low income in one of the areas we work in and be referred to us via a partner.

To help the many more families who we can’t reach, we are campaigning for and with them to ask the UK Government ensures families who are struggling because of Coronavirus – many of whom we’re facing challenges before the pandemic - have the financial support they need to make ends meet..

For more information, please see our longer-term response.

How your donations have helped so far


Lexi-Mae 5 years old outside her home in Sheffield.

Lexi-Mae is 5 and has lots of dreams for the future. Living through lockdown has been hard for her, but like so many children during this difficult time, she's shown remarkable resilience .

“I think she's been coping more than I have,” says Georgina, her mum.

Georgina, who is bringing up Lexi-Mae on her own, experienced anxiety before the lockdown, and was struggling to make ends meet.

They received help through our Emergency Grant and we were able to give Lexi-Mae and her mum food vouchers, easing Georgina’s money worries; a toy pack to help Lexi-Mae keep learning; and an Argos voucher which they used to buy a much-needed new bed for Lexi-Mae.

“Lexi's been excited since she knew she was getting a new bed. All the toys, she's loved, and vouchers for food, it's been a massive help.”

Our longer term response

It’s hugely welcome that the government has extended free school meals to cover summer 2020, and we congratulate Marcus Rashford on his successful campaign. But this is only one piece of the puzzle in helping struggling families get by.

Many UK parents are facing losing their job or a hit to their income combined with rising energy and food costs bills and limited resources to keep their children learning. 

Living in financial hardship has an enormous impact on children - on their health, on their learning, and on their childhood.

But an extra £20 a week in social security could be the lifeline that pulls them through.

We have partnered with the Joseph Rountree Foundation (JRF): 

JRF and Save the Children share a joint mission to ensure families are supported through the lockdown and beyond, and to prevent more children being pulled into poverty.

Together, we are advocating for a new social security lifeline; particularly for families with children, to ease the intense pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.

Find out more from our campaigning parent, Aneita.


Save the Children is also raising money for emergency packages for the most vulnerable UK families. Due to the unprecedented numbers of families who need help, we are unfortunately not able to offer a package to every family who needs one. To make sure we’re reaching the families who most need support, families need to meet a set of criteria – for instance, they must have a child aged 0-6, live in one of the 11 areas we work in, and be referred by one of our partners.

However, our campaign asking the UK Government to provide families with the financial support they need will, if won, reach the millions of families that we can’t. Sharing your story could help convince them to act.

For further support, please check out this list of organisations and what services they are providing 


Are you a parent who is struggling financially due to COVID-19?

We're keen to find parents who are experiencing the specific issues we're campaigning on so that we can share their stories and demonstrate the problem to decision makers.

Your answers won't be shared with anyone without your permission and we're committed to protecting your personal information. For more about how we collect, use and look after your details, please read our full privacy policy

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