Child Poverty: The impact of COVID-19 on families in West Cumbria A Rapid Response Paper

Wilson, Suzanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7021-8967 (2020) Child Poverty: The impact of COVID-19 on families in West Cumbria A Rapid Response Paper. Discussion Paper. UNSPECIFIED.

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The West Cumbria Child Poverty Forum (WCCPF) exists to highlight and improve the plight of those children in our community who live with the harmful consequences of poverty. Chaired by Willie Slavin, WCCPF is an un-constituted group which is open to any organisation in the with an interest in a collaborative approach to making a real difference to the lives of children and young people in poverty.

Tackling the potentially devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of our most disadvantaged children and young people requires urgent attention. The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent societal impacts (such as lockdowns) have had an unimaginable and unprecedented impact around the globe. WCCPF will release a report that seeks to highlight the potential impact of the COVID-19 on children and young people in West Cumbria, particularly those in poverty or who are otherwise vulnerable. It also seeks to support those addressing the problem with the clearest possible picture of the emerging advice, information and data at both local and national level and makes recommendations to mitigate harm to the most vulnerable children and young people in West Cumbria.

WCCPF worked with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to bring together accounts provided by international literature and local experts in West Cumbria. The findings reveal concerns about the impact the lockdown measures will have on children’s education. Many families in poverty face barriers to accessing the resources to facilitate a good quality education from the home, and children are missing the conversational component of face to face teaching. Lack of referrals to supportive services during lockdown has raised concerns about the emotional wellbeing, and in some cases, the physical safety of some vulnerable children and young people. The report also found that many families in West Cumbria were living on the edge with few resources before Covid-19 but the current crisis is revealing the extent of the hardship experienced. Families from disadvantaged households will suffer the most from the consequences of Covid-19, whilst many more families are likely to fall into poverty.

Services have been collaborating to best meet the needs of families experiencing hardship and the report sets out ways to build on this learning on how to develop innovative ways of addressing inequalities to build a stronger future for everyone.

Written between mid-March and mid-May, this report is only able to provide a snapshot of the actual and potential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on children and young people in West Cumbria. However, we remain convinced that our report will make a valuable contribution in informing the recovery effort, which, according to economic and social science experts around the globe, will take some considerable time.

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