Family resilience under pressure as 12 million UK families left unable to access support during Covid-19

  • LV= General Insurance and national charity Family Action launch ‘Family Resilience – The Impact of Covid-19’, a report examining the effect of the pandemic on families and the steps needed to better support those experiencing difficulties
  • Three in five parents who said they needed support during the pandemic, including financial support, counselling or help from family or friends, have been unable to access it
  • One in five parents have experienced financial difficulties during the pandemic, with over one in four expecting their personal finances to get worse over the next year
  • Two in five parents say their mental health and wellbeing is worse than a year ago, with a third feeling less confident 
  • One in 10 – around two million – feel less effective as a parent as a result and 16% say their relationship with their partner has deteriorated
  • Despite this, many parents have experienced improved relationships with their children and their partner 

Three in five (62%) parents who said they needed support1 during the pandemic have either been unable or felt unable to access it, as a new report launched today by LV= General Insurance (LV=GI) and Family Action reveals how the effects of Covid-19 have put severe pressure on family resilience across the UK.

‘Family Resilience – The Impact of Covid-19’ report, based on a study of 4,000 UK adults2 with children under 18, examines the extent to which the pandemic has dented our ability to weather the normal ups and downs of family life, as well as bigger setbacks. Through their work with over 60,000 families every year, Family Action has identified five key areas that can impact how resilient families feel and their ability to cope with challenges better if they feel confident and supported in these areas. These are finances, strong family relationships, wider support networks, physical and mental health, and self-efficacy (which refers to the belief that we can control or deal with the situations we find ourselves in, the ability to plan a way forward, and the confidence and motivation to do so). 

Families unable to access support 

Having access to support is important to help vulnerable families in periods of need. However, three in five (62%) parents who said they needed support have been unable or felt unable to access it. The reasons for this include not meeting the eligibility requirements (25%), feeling too afraid to ask (24%), feeling others needed the support more than them (22%), and support being unavailable in their area and not knowing how to access it (both 20%).

When looking closer at the areas which impact family resilience, nearly half (47%) of parents have felt they needed financial support and were unable to access it, rising to over half (52%) of parents who were unable to ask for help and support for their health and wellbeing. 

As part of its work, Family Action provides a free national helpline – FamilyLine – which offers confidential support to families. Data from FamilyLine reveals that since the start of pandemic, the number of people using its service has increased by 228%, with the main reasons for contacting the service including families looking for financial and parenting support. 

Fall in financial and mental health puts family resilience under strain 

The economic impact of the pandemic has meant one in five (20%) parents are experiencing financial difficulty, with one in three (31%) seeing their personal finances impacted over the last year. As a result, 13% have been unable to pay their mortgage/rent or buy food and 16% unable to buy essential clothing. The scale and effect of financial strain on families is set to increase further over the next 12 months, with one in four parents expecting their personal finances (28%) to get worse. Nearly one in three (31%) say they will be left unable to pay their household bills on time and 30% will be unable to afford household essentials.3

Mental health and wellbeing among parents has also been hit particularly hard, with two in five (38%) saying it is worse than a year ago. However, many parents are talking about mental health issues (31%) and sharing concerns with friends and family (31%) more than previously. 

The impact of the pandemic on motivation and self-efficacy

One in three (35%) parents feel less confident to deal with tricky situations than they did a year ago, with lower confidence levels impacting their overall health (62%) and their relationships with others (59%). Additionally, 36% of parents have lower levels of motivation than they did a year ago, with one in 10 – around two million parents – feeling less effective as a parent as a result.

Families see improved relationships throughout Covid-19

The importance of family and communities has really come to the fore during this time and many parents have experienced improved relationships with their children (43%) and their partner (36%) over the last 12 months. In addition, three in 10 (29%) state their relationship with their wider support networks – which includes neighbours, colleagues, local communities – has improved over the last 12 months and 57% expect this to be a long-term change.

Heather Smith, Managing Director at LV=GI said: “We created this report with Family Action to highlight the true impact of the pandemic on families and their ability to cope. As we approach one year on from the start of the pandemic, family resilience is being tested like never before and for many the next 12 months will prove just as, if not more, challenging. One of the most worrying findings is the number of parents who have struggled to access support. We hope that through our partnership, we can help Family Action reach thousands of vulnerable families by increasing the capacity of its FamilyLine helpline and raise awareness of the support available for families who need some extra help right now and in the future.” 

David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive, Family Action said: “We look forward to working with LV= and would like to say a huge thank you to them for their support, which will enable Family Action to continue helping families when and where it is needed.  As our research highlights, more and more families are facing new challenges, including pressures around finances, parenting, relationships, mental health and more - and many do not know where to turn or may feel too embarrassed to ask for help. We want people to know that support is out there. People can contact FamilyLine, our free, confidential, non-judgmental advice and support service where there is the option to get in touch by text, email, web chat as well as by phone. The earlier a family gets help the better. Early help builds resilience - supporting people to thrive, not just survive.”

LV=GI and Family Action have embarked on a new three-year partnership. The national charity, who has been building stronger families since 1869, works with over 60,000 families in over 160 community-based services every year. The partnership will help Family Action transform lives by providing practical, emotional, and financial support to those who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage, and social isolation across the country.

 

For further information:

Simon Ansell
Media Relations Manager, General Insurance
07826 953024

NOTES TO EDITORS: 

1 12 million / 62% families unable to access support is calculated based on there being 19.2 million families in the UK, the polling data was mapped onto the population data with the assumption that the total number of family members who needed support approximately equalled the number of families who needed support. Support could include:

- Informal discussion with friends or family
- Informal discussion with my wider support network e.g. colleagues, neighbours
- Phone apps
- Online or telephone support 
- Other family support
- 1:1 counselling, either online or face to face
- Group sessions
- Parenting programmes
- Online support groups
- Befriending / peer support
- Financial support incl. furlough, state benefits, payment freeze, mortgage holiday refunds/discounts, a loan
2 Research study conducted by Opinium between 24 December and 8 January 2021, with a nationally representative sample of 4,000 UK adults who have children under 18 
3 Household essentials, such as food or clothing

Find out more at www.family-action.org.uk/familyline