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One in five children in the East of England dissatisfied with their lives

12 Nov One in five children in the East of England dissatisfied with their lives

More than one in five children of secondary school age in the East of England – an estimated 80,000 young people – feel dissatisfied with their lives, according to new analysis by The Children’s Society.

The national charity analysed the findings of a survey of 11-16-year-olds in every region of England about their satisfaction with life.

Of the children who took part in the East of England, 21 per cent gave low scores of less than five out of ten when asked to rate their satisfaction with life. That is equivalent to almost 80,000 children of that age in the North West.

Scores for children completing the survey in the region ranged from an average of 6.9 out of 10 in Cambridgeshire to 6.3 in Bedford, Suffolk and Thurrock. Data was not available for every council area but the scores indicate that children in some areas of the region may be struggling more than others.

The findings, from the Sport England Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, pre-date the coronavirus pandemic and were analysed by The Children’s Society as part of its annual Good Childhood research.

The charity’s analysis also found that 22 per cent of children in the East of England, more than 85,000, reported being unhappy the previous day, while 18 per cent, more than 70,000 children, felt the things they did in life were not worthwhile.

The Children’s Society’s 2020 Good Childhood Report, published in August, highlighted a fall in the well-being of 10-15-year-olds in the UK between 2009 and 2018 based on findings from a separate survey. This showed that school and appearance are the aspects of life the greatest numbers of children are unhappy with.

Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “It’s heart-breaking to learn that even before Covid so many children in the East of England felt dissatisfied with their lives, that they lacked purpose and were feeling unhappy at the time of this survey.

“The fear is that the pandemic will only exacerbate this situation, with all the indications from our frontline support for children and our research being that the pandemic is taking a huge toll on young people’s well-being.

“This situation is not acceptable or inevitable, but as a society we need a better understanding of how children are feeling and what is causing this in order to decide how best to send this worrying trend into reverse.

“We are calling on the Government to introduce the kind of regular national measurement of children’s well-being which is already in place for adults – but in the meantime we are urging local areas to take action.

“We want councils to carry out regular assessments of children’s well-being and work with partners to develop a local well-being strategy including the development of services which support children and young people’s well-being.

“While it will take time before we start to see improvements, with concerted efforts from everyone we can start to help children feel happier about their lives and give them real hope for the future.”

The Children’s Society says local well-being strategies could include the introduction of open access, drop-in emotional health hubs, offering support without the need for an appointment as well as investment in youth services and early help for struggling families.
The charity is calling on councils to sign a joint letter it has drafted to the Secretaries of State for Education and Health, calling on the Government to start measuring children’s well-being.