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Christmas exacerbates anxieties among children

Many parents are wishing they could cancel Christmas while children fear an unhappy family time, a study by Action for Children has found.

A poll of parents found that one in six would cancel Christmas if they could, rising even higher for those on Universal Credit for the first time this year. A survey of children for the charity reveals that over half fear a difficult family Christmas, saying their parents will be worried about making it a happy time.

The pandemic is also leaving them anxious, scared of illness and death, lonely, angry and suffering nightmares.

Deputy chief executive of Action for Children, Carol Iddon, said: “Christmas should be the most exciting time of the year but instead children and young people are desperately struggling to get through this crisis, with parents wishing away the pressure of the festive season.”

As the country faces a different Christmas with the Covid pandemic, one in six (17%) parents would cancel Christmas this year if they could and over half UK children (57%) think their parents will be worried about making it a happy time for their family, the survey by Action for Children and YouGov found.

A survey of over 1,000 UK parents and 1,000 children aged 6 to 15 outlines the stark reality of the Covid pandemic and lays bare the heavy financial toll felt by a new wave of parents who have never needed help but are now struggling.

Nearly half (46%) of parents on Universal Credit surveyed are facing their first ever Christmas on the benefit. Of these mums and dad, a massive 41% wish they could cancel Christmas, while more than half (55%) reported plans to delay paying household bills, borrow money or sell belongings to pay for Christmas celebrations.

The survey reveals that children’s mental health has deteriorated during the pandemic. It outlines that:

- Half of children (49%) reported anxiety

- More than a third (38%) were scared of getting ill or dying

- A third (33%) were experiencing loneliness

- A quarter of children felt (26%) angry

- One in five (22%) parents reported them having mood swings or panic attacks

- More than one in eight (13%) children were suffering nightmares.

- Nearly every parent reported concerning new behaviours in their children such as anger and fear, with some children suffering panic attacks. The pressure for many has been increased by the fact they have a new baby, an unwell child, someone in the home with a disability or because they have to shield.

Deputy chief executive of Action for Children, Carol Iddon, said: “Every day our frontline workers are helping parents keep their heads above water as some face the prospect of eviction or selling belongings to cover the cost of Christmas. While vulnerable children who should be enjoying a safe and happy childhood are suffering nightmares, panic attacks, or being scared of issues like death and illness.

“In a year when children and families have been pushed deeper into crisis, supporting them is more important than ever. Until every family can keep their child warm and well fed, we’ll be there to help them – that’s why we’re asking people to donate to help us make a life-changing difference to vulnerable children this Christmas and beyond. But these families cannot rely on the generosity of the British public alone, the Government must play its part. The Chancellor must give struggling families peace of mind this Christmas by promising that he will not be cutting Universal Credit payments by over £1,000 a year in the Spring.”

Action for Children has launched a Secret Santa campaign to help the country’s most vulnerable children




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