Unicef UK urges Government to address children directly on issues affecting their lives and set up a child recovery plan to protect their future – as 2 in 5 children say they have experienced anxiety during lockdown



29 May 2020, More than 60% of UK children say they are worried about the impact of the coronavirus on their lives according to a survey commissioned by the children’s charity Unicef UK.

According to the survey, 2 in 5 (47%) of children say they experience anxiety and worry about the coronavirus and about two fifths (40%) say they were most worried about not seeing their friends, while a quarter (26%) worry about grandparents and almost a third (32%) worry about parents falling ill with the virus.

With schools in England scheduled to open on 1 June, children aged 6-16 and parents with school age children have shared their experience and opinions* about the impact of the lockdown on their lives with the children’s agency.  Unicef UK has been delivering services and programmes in the UK for over 25 years reaching over 2 million children through its work – including its work with nearly 5,000 Rights Respecting Schools across the UK.

Speaking about the findings, Maham, member of Unicef UK Youth Advisory Board** says:

“A lot of children and young people are anxious and worried about what’s happening right now, and what’s going to happen in the future. We need some kind of alternative to school counsellors during the school closures.”

A child surveyed also said they were most worried about, “the amount of time it will take for things to go back to normal,” while another said, they were worried about seeing “nanny and grandad.”

Joanna Rea, Unicef UK Director of Advocacy says:

“We must not underestimate the value of children’s perspectives and opinions on the issues that affect their lives. It is important that the Government addresses the nation’s children with a clear plan and provide a clear plan for their education, safety and wellbeing. Speaking with children and young people is not just the right thing to do, it would deliver better outcomes.”

Regarding their education, 91% of children who responded say they are receiving home schooling during the lockdown, with nearly 3 in 5 (59%) agreeing that they found home-schooling either slightly or very stressful while for almost 1 in 5 (18 %) children falling behind in school was a major concern.

“Getting children back to school must always be done in the best interests of children – consulting children, their parents and teachers as part of decision making is essential in ensuring the right resources and support are in place before schools reopen,” Rea added.

According to the survey, more than half of children (54%) polled said they either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that schools should reopen soon, however only 48% of parents say they want their children to return to school soon.

“School isn’t just a place for learning, it was somewhere to socialise with our friends on a daily basis. We’ve been cut off from the people we want to spend time with and our education has been halted. Those in authority need to acknowledge how we feel and not just assume we’re all happy because our exams are cancelled,” Maham added.

Among the parents who responded, 32% say they feel it is important for the government to provide clear guidance on how children can make up for months of school closures.

“Children are bearing the burden of the pandemic, particularly the most vulnerable. This includes learning loss, for some caused not only due to school closures but as a result of the digital divide, many others will have limited access to nutritious meals, health care and support services.

“It is critical the government commits to a comprehensive children’s recovery plan including ringfenced funding and resources for schools, councils and children’s service providers so the challenges facing children today do not cast a long shadow over their futures,” Rea concluded.

Notes to editor:

*Unicef UK commissioned Opinion Matters on a poll of 753 children aged 6-16 in the UK. On homeschooling, findings reflect responses from children who went to school before the lockdown. The children’s charity also conducted a Censuswide poll of more than 750 parents of school aged children based on the impact of the coronavirus on their children.

**The Unicef UK Youth Advisory Board is made up of teenagers who represent children and young people across the UK who help the organisation make decisions about issues concerning children’s lives. The board wrote an open letter with more than 14,000 signatories calling on the Government to address UK children directly on the coronavirus response and how it affects children’s lives.

For more information, please contact:

Yemi Lufadeju, T: + 44 073 9101 7115 E:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, 

About the Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools Award

Unicef works with schools in the UK to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive. Our Rights Respecting Schools Award embeds these values in daily school life and gives children the best chance to lead happy, healthy lives and to be responsible, active citizens.

We are working with more UK schools than almost any other organisation. 1.6million children in the UK go to a Rights Respecting School and nearly 5,000 schools up and down the country are working towards the Award.

Also, through OutRight, Unicef UK, empowers children and young people to realise their rights and speak out to support the rights of all children.

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories, including the UK, to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

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