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  • First survey of its kind reveals children’s concerns about the Coronavirus outbreak, with 58% fearful of family members falling ill and 1 in 4 worried about food shortages.
  • Families are under acute financial pressure, with half worried about food supplies, 17% having to reduce working hours and 12% forced to take unpaid leave so they can manage childcare.
  • Research comes as Save the Children launches The Coronavirus Appeal to support families affected by Covid-19 

As UK households end a second week of living in lockdown, new research from Save the Children finds children’s mental health and wellbeing has become a grave concern for parents.

More than half of parents (56%) are worried about their child’s mental health at a time when schools are closed and contact with friends and family is restricted as a result of social distancing.

In the first poll of its kind, children aged six to 18 said they were most concerned about a family member becoming sick (58%), with their other main worries including food running out (25%), not being able to see friends (46%) and keeping up with school work (20%).  A fifth (20%) of children were also worried about their future now the schools have been shut indefinitely. 

An overwhelming 85% of the children surveyed said they were upset about not seeing friends and relatives for the foreseeable future due to the unfolding Coronavirus outbreak.

The poll paints a vivid picture of families living under acute financial pressure. Asked about the biggest practical concerns that came with looking after their families, parents said ensuring they have food supplies (48%), helping children with schoolwork (44%) and money (38%) were the main worries. Other issues included job security (20%) and explaining the situation to their child (19%).

School closures mean parents have found themselves balancing caring for their children, working from home and being a teacher. A quarter (25%) are juggling working from home with childcare duties, while 17% have reduced their working hours to take care of their children. A further 12% of parents have been forced to take unpaid leave to look after their kids, while 1 in 10 have had to leave their jobs completely.

The survey comes as Save the Children launches a fundraising appeal for vulnerable children affected by Coronavirus, as well as a series of initiatives throughout the UK to support those children most in need during this unprecedented time of social and economic upheaval. 

The children’s charity announced a new emergency grants programme in the UK to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, which aims to reach thousands of struggling families who are feeling the economic effects of the unfolding situation most acutely.

The programme will make sure families have access to early learning resources, as well as goods like tables and beds, to help build home environments in which children can continue learn and thrive. The programme will also support vulnerable families with gifts in kind and food vouchers, to help them make ends meet.

The charity has also set up a free, online resource hub, The Den, which will provide caregivers with a range of creative resources and activities. Featuring some of the UK’s best-loved celebrities and brands, The Den has been made hand in hand with Save the Children’s early learning experts, who have used their knowledge of what works for children at different ages and stages. Resources available will include ideas for keeping children calm and connected, creative play, fitness and food activities, and a corona-free zone including stories of happiness and hope from children across the world.

Deb Barry, Senior Humanitarian and Leadership Advisor at Save the Children says: “Throughout this challenging time, we’re here to support families by focusing on keeping children safe and healthy, and making sure they can keep learning, no matter what.

“Even before the coronavirus outbreak, four million children lived in poverty in the UK. We can’t let that number rise. Through our emergency programming we will provide those who need it most with essential food vouchers and cash grants to ensure that as many children as possible will be kept out of poverty during these unprecedented times.

“Save the Children has helped children survive and thrive in times of crisis for the past 100 years. Now, we’re calling on the generous British public to donate to our emergency appeal, and help us support children in the UK and around the world who are hardest hit by Coronavirus. Together, we’ll help families through this.”

For further information and to donate to Save the Children’s Coronavirus Appeal please visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk

To access The Den visit: https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/the-den

Notes to Editors:

Save the Children

Save the Children fights every single day for children’s futures. We stand side by side with children in the toughest places to be a child. In places where others won’t go, we’re there, giving everything to make sure they survive, get protected, and have the chance to learn. Every child should get to make their mark on the world and build a better future for us all.

For more information visit www.savethechildren.org.uk


The research for Save the Children was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 24/ 03/ 2020 and 25 / 03 / 2020 amongst a panel resulting in 1002 parents with children aged 6-18 years old and children aged 6-18 years old. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2019) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018).

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