The Covid Realities team launched their final report yesterday, on Monday 24th January 2022 at an online webinar. The report called Covid Realities: documenting life on a low income during the pandemic, presents key findings from the project as well as the Special Interest Group of academics and researchers across the UK who have been documenting the pandemic as it has unfolded. The Following Young Fathers Further study will also feature in a new book by the Covid Realities team. Published with Policy Press this is coming out in March 2022. In this collection, we report on the impacts of the pandemic on young fathers and the services that support them.
The Covid Realities team say of findings and the new report:
“Families living on a low income are profoundly disadvantaged and Covid-19 has only made this worse. In this final report, we summarise the evidence from the multiple strands of the Covid Realities research programme, which documented the everyday experiences of families with children living on a low income during the pandemic across the UK.
This report collates this rich and diverse body of evidence, and shares recommendations for policy, practice, and also for future research. The evidence tells us quite clearly that our social security system and wider public services are failing to provide families on low incomes with adequate support.
Through Covid Realities, parents experiencing poverty during the pandemic came together, shared their experiences, and developed recommendations for change. People spoke of their hardship, but also of their eagerness to be part of making change happen. They wanted better, not only for themselves but for families in similar positions, and for future generations. This report sets out why and where change is needed.”
The study had five major findings:
1. Families have nothing else to cut.
2. The social security system is not doing its job.
3. Poverty and everyday hardship are negatively impacting mental health.
4. Policymaking and national conversations about poverty and social security can only be improved when we include the voices of those with lived experiences.
5. We can all do more to collaborate and connect with each other.
“[Speaking about support of young fathers] We’ve done a lot of kind of advocation and representing them, a lot of the time there’s involvement with statutory services. They don’t have the care of the young person, the care’s provided by the state or the mother, so we’ve attended lots of meetings with the young person to offer additional support and facilitated contact where necessary and offered just general emotional wellbeing, support, improving robustness and resilience, encouraging them to have as amicable relationship as possible.”
“And I suppose it goes back to what we were saying before about behaviours, maybe the education side of stuff and the fact that men aren’t involved in those early conversations, you know, whether it is, I know they’re invited to come along to bumps to babies but I don’t know whether we go into the detail around some of that brain development side of stuff and things like that. Maybe that is the thing that really would change things. You know, if you were given all of that information about what happens to a child as they grow, in a scientific way, as easy to understand as possible, could be the thing that impacted on behaviour in the home.”
“I think both a mother and father combined, it’s communicating and both being on the same page of what’s best for your child or children, and for both, it’s just being there 100% for them and not, like, putting yourself first, it’s, you know, putting the child’s interests first... ”
“We need to be including, we need to not [just] be focusing on mum and child […] That’s a great focus but dad … dad’s not invisible, dad needs to be in the picture as well because there’s research that shows you the effect it has on children and families as a whole when dad isn’t in the picture, so services need to be changing the way in which they work so it’s more inclusive.”
“Cause I think a lot of the time, some of young people who end up having children have been through the care system or support systems and they can feel quite judged or labelled by organisations and it’s breaking the cycle and breaking them out of that to feel empowered to be able to take stuff back, that’s the real interest to me. So, it’s about getting support right, as in being there and giving advice and guidance and all them things that we can do, but also making sure that we are doing with people as opposed to people.”
“One of the most successful projects we ever did was an informal dads’ group, and it used to be on Saturdays […] they did what they wanted, they used to do things like breakfast, and they would have breakfast together and talk about dad stuff and where they were taking their kids. And that group was always really well attended because there was never an agenda. They were never judged. They were just there together.”
“...the whole stay at home dad thing is not something to be ashamed of, you know, if you’re a dad and you wanna take your daughter out for the day, or you wanna take your kid out for the day on your own, well why is that frowned upon, why can’t you take your child out for the day ”
“Oh…patience…compassion…tolerance, a whole boatload a’ that! Honestly, I like a whole lot of life. Sacrifice…compromise, yeah I think, yeah I think they, they would be the, the big, the five, I feel, I think that was five, they would be the main. ”
“We’re currently in touch with social services for two [dads] because they don’t understand why they can’t see their children because they haven’t been informed by social services, their partner. So there’s a massive communication breakdown with those young men, so that’s the main focus of what we’re dealing with at the minute.”