Earlier this week the independent review into the causes of last summer’s riots commissioned by the government published their report. concludes there is a group of 500,000 ‘forgotten families’ who ‘bump along the bottom’, who do not feel they have a stake in society and are unable to change their lives.
Voluntary organisations such as Children North East are in daily contact with hundreds of families who love their children but struggle to be effective parents. There are perhaps as many reasons as there are families why that should be, but they include the cycle of low paid short term jobs followed by redundancy and periods of unemployment, not enough money and debt, victims of crime, eviction, long term ill health, divorce and separation, depression and post traumatic stress. Parents experiencing stresses such as these have less time and energy to devote to their children. Usually they know it and feel guilty but lack the resources or energy to change.
These ‘forgotten families’ tend not to attract the attention of the authorities, their children are perhaps not given the attention they deserve but they are not beaten and abused. The children may lack the help at home they need to excel at school and perhaps miss more school than the average, but they are not persistent truants. Older children may be left to their own devices on the streets and perhaps get into bother, but they are not young offenders.
Of course there have always been families like this but what is different today is the huge gap in income between those who have more then enough and families who have barely enough to get by. We have become a country that judges success by what we spend and own, the poorest simply cannot compete, which is why they feel they have no stake in society.