New research published today by Coram Family and Childcare has found that over half (56%) of parents with children under five experience loneliness at least some of the time, with twice as many parents on the lowest incomes saying they often feel isolated from others as parents on the highest incomes (33% v 16%).
The study also reveals that the issue significantly affects more women than men, with twice as many mothers than fathers saying they often feel left out (30% v 16%), as well as younger parents, with nearly two-fifths (37%) of parents aged 18-24 often feeling a lack of companionship, compared to a fifth (21%) of parents aged 25-34.
Parents highlight two distinct times when loneliness is most prevalent – around the birth of a baby, particularly if the mother or baby have health problems and are unable to get out of the house easily; and when the children are older but haven’t yet started school. The report finds that loneliness can get worse before it gets better, improving when children reach school age. 18% of parents whose youngest child is under one often feel left out, rising to 41% of parents whose youngest is two, and falling to just 8% whose youngest child is five.
The new research will inform Coram Family and Childcare’s new project, funded by the National Lottery Community Reaching Communities programme, to support groups of local parents to work together to combat loneliness while their child is young. Focus groups conducted by Coram Family and Childcare with parents in five cities and towns revealed that parents felt the best way to combat loneliness and isolation is to take part in local activities with other parents.
The focus groups found that for parents who experience loneliness more often, they felt the most important aspects of activities that could help include being able to meet parents in a similar situation to themselves, activities that their child will enjoy and a relaxed atmosphere. Interestingly, more men than women said they were looking for “a safe space to discuss personal matters” whilst more women than men wanted “activities where I do not have to admit I am lonely or isolated”.
Many of the parents also said that they were unable to access the kinds of activities that could have helped when they were feeling lonely. For some parents, those activities did not exist locally or were at unsuitable times or locations, while some parents attended activities where they did not feel welcomed. Coram Family and Childcare’s new project will support groups of local parents to help to improve the activities available locally and to help more parents to access them.
Claire Harding, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said:
For further information, case studies and interviews please contact: Emma Lamberton, Communications Manager at Coram at firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 520 0427 / 07908 827908.
Notes to Editor:
Findings are based on an opinion poll of 529 parents with children under five and focus groups with parents of young children in five English towns and cities (Camden, Doncaster, Plymouth, Slough, and Wirral), conducted in July 2019.
About Coram Family and Childcare
Coram Family and Childcare works to make the UK a better place for families by bringing together what we learn from our on the ground parent-led programmes and our research to campaign for solutions that parents want and need. We focus on childcare and early years to make a difference to families’ lives now and in the long term. Coram Family and Childcare is part of the Coram group of children’s charities and before August 2018 was known as the Family and Childcare Trust. For more information, please visit www.coramfamilyandchildcare.org.
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