UK Families

You're £1,000 Worse Off Due To Osborne, Says Balls

The Huffington Post/PA | Posted 04.04.2014 | UK Politics

Families will be almost £1,000 a year worse off as a result of chancellor George Osborne's tax and benefit changes, Labour has claimed as it escalate...

No Shortage of Words on 'Tax-Free Childcare', Nor Sensationalism... Just One Question - What's Happened to the Mission to Explain?

Anand Shukla | Posted 31.03.2014 | UK Politics
Anand Shukla

A few years ago, just after becoming Chief Executive of what was then the Daycare Trust, I took part in an ITV news website discussion with parents on childcare. At the time, uppermost in my mind were threats to children's centres and cuts to support for parents with childcare costs.

Suffolkating: Partying Hard in Old Front Bottom

Mark Piggott | Posted 10.03.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

At midnight I look up at the screen to see Big Ben, haloed in light, wreathed in the smoke of rockets and bangers, keeping stern watch over the city I called home for almost thirty years: so close, yet so far away.

Suffolkating: Just an Everyday Standard Coincidence?

Mark Piggott | Posted 28.02.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Having received a card from the middle-aged couple a few doors along, next week we're having a little soiree for the neighbours - all except Dead Bob Willis and his invisible wife, obviously. As I drive home from Homebase with a boot full of planks singing along to "Rebel Rebel" it somehow feels Christmassy and normal.

Suffolkating: One Part Inspiration, Nine Parts Perspiration

Mark Piggott | Posted 21.02.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Sean's spots are healing, Emma making friends; Lynda is working in London today. The house is "coming together" (as in, it's no longer falling apart). The roof of the summerhouse is secured with tarp and screws. There's nothing useful I can do alone. Nothing for it: I must write.

Suffolkating: the Elephant in the Room is the Room

Mark Piggott | Posted 16.04.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Neither of the kids seems traumatised by their first day at Straddlewick; we heave sighs of relief. Then, at tooth-brush-time, Emma says Sean was called names by an older boy in the playground.

Suffolkating: The Hillbillies Have X-ray Eyes

Mark Piggott | Posted 09.04.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Lynda's supposed to meet me at the train station but the Stilo's out of action: some sort of steering rod calamity that will cost more to fix than we paid for the infernal thing. For about a trillisecond I consider taking a mechanic's course then remember I have better things to do. I'm not sure what, exactly, but I do.

Spare a Thought For the Families of Addicts

Galia Orme | Posted 08.04.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Galia Orme

We cannot ignore or minimise the affect addiction has on others. The reality is that there is no happy ending for anyone involved in the life of an addict. My children have lost their father and I have lost my best friend.

Suffolkating: Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

Mark Piggott | Posted 02.04.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Following a great deal of badgering, bribery and blackmail the children allow themselves to be shown round Straddlewick primary by the deputy head and we assume from their relative silence they have no fundamental objection to being educated there.

Suffolkating: Fate Gets the Finger

Mark Piggott | Posted 25.03.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Joy! The kitchen sink is finally installed so now we can wash our pots and clothes without resorting to the scabby old bathtub. Shame about the missing cutlery drawer - "I'll come back later," says the plumber, vaguely - but who cares when you can clean your socks without your hands resembling Brillo pads immersed in Jif?*

Putting People, Not Process, First for Families

Anne Longfield | Posted 25.03.2014 | UK
Anne Longfield

The Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said on 22nd January that parents and families should take more responsibility for their own lives. It's a view I share. 4Children's own Family Commission told us that families, even very vulnerable families, want to be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Keeping an Eye on Our Feathered Friends

Mike Collins | Posted 24.03.2014 | UK
Mike Collins

I'm no expert but the very wet and mild winter that we're having must be very confusing for our feathered friends. Their biological clocks will have started to tick early as they will be thinking that we're heading towards the first day of spring rather than being stuck still in the middle of winter. That's the beauty of nature: you don't need to be Sir David Attenborough to understand how the weather is affecting the natural world...

Suffolkating: Good Omens

Mark Piggott | Posted 19.03.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Continuing to work in London is disorientating: waking hours before dawn, driving along waterlogged lanes to the station where I wait for the local train to take me into Cambridge, where I make a dash for anything heading towards the city: no time for coffee or breakfast, then I look up drowsily from "Portrait of a Lady" (how did these people ever actually mate?) - and I'm back in the smoke.

Suffolkating: Adders and Asbestos

Mark Piggott | Posted 11.03.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

One of the main reasons we left our beloved London for a tiny village no-one's ever heard of is the local primary school, which is tiny, with its own little swimming pool and straight As all down its Ofsted report. Unfortunately, although there's a place for Sean there isn't one for Emma and rather than try elsewhere we're keeping the kids home.

UN Convoy Crosses Conflict Line to Reach Vulnerable Children and Families With Emergency Supplies

Michele Al Kaae | Posted 04.03.2014 | UK
Michele Al Kaae

I took part in a recent UN convoy that delivered much-needed relief supplies to a hard-to-reach area of rural Idleb, in Syria's north-west. An estimated 40,000 displaced people have taken shelter in Khan Shikhon town, in the southern part of the governorate, swelling the town's regular population of around 80,000. They have come mainly to escape fighting their home areas in rural parts of Idleb and Hama governorates... For many of these vulnerable children and families, the humanitarian situation in Khan Shikhon is grim.

All Around the World, We're All the Same

Samantha van Dalen | Posted 03.03.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Samantha van Dalen

None of us can save another human being. Each of us has a responsibility to save ourselves. No one is to blame when the easiest option becomes the best option. Life is hard. Life is cruel.

Suffolkating: Welcome to the Country

Mark Piggott | Posted 18.02.2014 | UK
Mark Piggott

A few days later, I'm stuck up a step-ladder holding a drill and wondering what to do with it when our immediate neighbour trudges grimly to the door; he's around 70, with an unyielding and yet woebegone face, like a dead Bob Willis. When I put out my hand he regards it like it's a dead badger and doesn't shake.

Families Can Fall Prey to Loneliness Too

David Holmes | Posted 18.02.2014 | UK Lifestyle
David Holmes

The conventional image of loneliness or isolation, particularly at Christmas, is of an older person living on their own. But families can feel intensely isolated too. Everyone needs support from time to time, and when that support is absent and people feel they have no-one to turn to, it can have a significant impact on an individual's health and well-being and can damage families.

Suffolkating: Week One

Mark Piggott | Posted 13.02.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Mark Piggott

Once the kids are asleep Lynda and I crack open the Cava but we're so cold and tired, so daunted by the scale of the task ahead, it tastes flat and we go to bed. As I lie awake and listen to the unfamiliar sound of nothingness a terrible fear grips me: have we done the right thing?

Parents' Problems Hit Children the Hardest in Tough Economic Times

Dame Clare Tickell | Posted 12.02.2014 | UK
Dame Clare Tickell

Poverty and parents who struggle always have and always will impact on children profoundly, which is why it's so important these families get the help they need from organisations like ours.

The Autumn Statement: Will Capping Welfare Help Vulnerable Families?

Dame Clare Tickell | Posted 03.02.2014 | UK Politics
Dame Clare Tickell

If Chancellor George Osborne caps welfare spending without thinking enough about those in dire need, he is at risk of making a short-sighted mistake for which children will pay the highest price. We have already seen an increasing number of children getting help only when they reach crisis point which, for many, is often too late.

The Autumn Statement: Will Capping Welfare Help Vulnerable Families?

Dame Clare Tickell | Posted 03.02.2014 | UK Politics
Dame Clare Tickell

If Chancellor George Osborne caps welfare spending without thinking enough about those in dire need, he is at risk of making a short-sighted mistake for which children will pay the highest price. We have already seen an increasing number of children getting help only when they reach crisis point which, for many, is often too late.

Shared Parental Leave Has Raised the Bar - Now Everyone Must Agree to Do More for Babies

June O'Sullivan MBE | Posted 02.02.2014 | UK Politics
June O'Sullivan MBE

The shared parental leave policy is a step towards helping parents juggle the cost of childcare for the first year of their baby's life. But it still leaves the thorny question of how parents will pay for childcare until their child is eligible for 15 hours of government-funded care as a three-year-old. Will childcare ever become a universal offer like school? Or will it remain market-led where parents bear the brunt of the cost.

Farewell London, We Will Take the Kid and Go, but Who Is Taking Our Place ... and Why?

Laura Evans Vogel | Posted 01.02.2014 | UK Lifestyle
Laura Evans Vogel

London, wave good-by to normal families who care passionately about you and give a nod to anonymous, super-rich people who don't vote, don't use the library, likely won't go to the local shops, don't use the NHS (and protest when you sell it off) and certainly would never would allow their children to attend a state school.

Family Fortunes: A Decade of Change in Britain's Households

Fiona Wood | Posted 31.12.2013 | UK Lifestyle
Fiona Wood

For better or worse - if you pardon the pun - marriage is no longer seen as important by many people who want to set up home together. The law in England and Wales does not provide a remedy for what happens when and if cohabiting relationships come to an end which is any way comparable with what is in place for failed marriages or civil partnerships.