On Thursday evening I went to a lecture by the Bishop of York. I hadn’t heard him speak before and his topic was UK child well-being, so I wanted to hear his views. He was talking about recent research from the Children’s Society into what makes children happy or unhappy.
Children at a Rights Respecting Schools nursery in London. © UNICEF UK/2008/Caroline Irby
The newly released findings corroborate the research I led last year for UNICEF UK. Both our research and theirs show that good relationships with family and friends are key to children’s long-term well-being. Alongside this, money matters; children who don’t have enough to fit in with their peers are more unhappy, as are children in households which have seen their income drop unexpectedly, or are uncertain about their economic future.
Child well-being in policy
The new research says there are six priorities for child well-being and that policy decisions taken by national and local governments can make a real difference to these. We support the Children’s Society’s call for the Government to weigh up the impact of any change of policy on children’s well-being before going ahead with it.
Surely, like the Bishop of York, we all want the UK to be a great place to grow up, with every child having a good childhood and a positive future. Therefore we need to be ready to encourage our Government to do the right thing by children - and to challenge them when they look the other way.
The next piece of research by UNICEF into child poverty across industrialised countries is due out in a couple of months. It will help us continue to hold the Government to account for their policy decisions and the well-being of British children.
Alison Marshall is Public Affairs Director at UNICEF UK.