08 November 2020
The British Psychological Society has welcomed the introduction of the government’s winter package of support for families and children.
The winter grant scheme, to be run by local councils, will provide support with food and bills, and a holiday food and activities programme is to be expanded following three years of pilot schemes.
The BPS’ Poverty to Flourishing campaign is urging a psychological approach to tackling the root causes of poverty, and Professor Greta Defeyter, director of the Healthy Living Lab at Northumbria University and a member of the BPS’ expert reference group on poverty, said this announcement is a welcome step in the right direction:
“This news will come as welcome relief for a large number of families who were facing the prospect of an incredibly difficult winter and additional pressures over the school holidays.
We welcome the extension of the holiday food and activities programme as this provides a vital lifeline to families with the provision of healthy, nutritious meals, and provides children with the opportunity to participate in physical, educational, cultural and social activities.
Importantly our research has shown that this programme improves children’s physical and mental health, and supports adults’ mental wellbeing through strengthening community networks.
Of course, in the longer term we need to work collaboratively to affect whole system change so we are not talking about child poverty in years to come.
Nevertheless, because of Marcus Rashford and his efforts the public are aware of child poverty, and hunger and food insecurity is being openly discussed”.
Dr Vivian Hill, chair of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology, said:
“We welcome the long overdue government announcement of a winter support programme that will allow local authorities to target support to the most vulnerable children and families.
The offer of access to activity clubs during the school holiday closures will also help enormously.
So many of our most vulnerable children live in cramped and overcrowded conditions, with little or no safe space to play.
The access to free play, creative materials and opportunities for learning will support children who have already missed a considerable period of learning and help reduce the widening attainment gap.”