99% of family support workers reveal children didn’t have a summer holiday
Lack of summer holiday exposes pupils to mental health issues, say family support workers
Our new report shows that ninety-nine per cent of family support workers reveal that they work with families and children who didn’t have a summer holiday this year. Children have returned to school this week unable to perform well in the year ahead because they haven’t had a holiday or even a day out.
Our report surveyed 481 family support workers, including teachers, social workers and other frontline support professionals working with over 10,000 families across the UK, to gain a greater understanding of the struggles that many families face during the long summer school break. At a time of year that many associate with fun, adventure and new experiences, the reality for many children is one of increased challenges and isolation, impacting their mental health and leaving them at a disadvantage when they go back to school.
Of those surveyed, 74% work with children who will struggle at school because they have had limited opportunities over the long summer break compared with their peers. The resulting sense of shame and embarrassment at having no stories to share is a key factor in not being able to settle into the new term.
The report found that mental health often declines over the summer.
Four fifths (80%) of professionals reported that for low income families, the stress of trying to entertain or even feed children during the summer had a negative impact on the mental health of parents.
Summer can also be a particularly isolating time for children who never leave their local area, with 64% of respondents who said they saw child mental health get worse over the summer, reporting isolation as a key factor contributing to this. Professionals also reported an increase in children experiencing harmful and potentially damaging situations such as domestic abuse, antisocial behaviour, knife crime, drugs and alcohol.
The lack of opportunity is widespread. Of those surveyed, almost a quarter said that no families they work with had a break. 77% of support professionals said that only a few families left their local area, and 99% know children who did not even visit a local park.
Commenting on the report, Head of Programmes at the Family Holiday Association, John Kinnear, said:
“This survey highlights just how many children are missing out on a holiday or day out over the summer and the detrimental effect this has for both them and their parents.
“The long summer break can leave children more isolated, exposed to more violence and abuse, struggling with mental health issues and, shockingly, struggling to get enough to eat.
“A break or day out is not going to address all the challenges highlighted in this report but at the Family Holiday Association, we know the hugely positive difference that breaks and days out can make. They improve mental wellbeing, help families communicate better with each other, broaden horizons and give children something to talk about when they go back to school.
“We’ve seen time and again that a break or day out is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to make a profoundly positive impact for children and their families.”