Fighting for the Vulnerable 2015: Improving lives of families

Officials at Action for Children have reported a rising number of cases in which adults have voiced

Officials at Action for Children have reported a rising number of cases in which adults have voiced concerns about their children's emotional wellbeing and mental health - Credit: PA

This week the EDP has issued a clarion call to the people of East Anglia to pledge their help to vulnerable people, KATE ROYALL reports on one charity's work to transform the lives of children and their families in Norfolk.

An increasing number of parents in East Anglia is growing concerned about the emotional wellbeing and mental health of their children, according to a leading children's charity.

Officials at Action for Children have reported a rising number of cases in which adults have voiced concerns about their own mental health and, also, how it is affecting their children.

Debt, unemployment, family break-ups and housing issues are among the factors which are causing increasing pressure on parents which is being transferred to their children.

Anne Waterman, operational director at Action for Children in Norfolk, said: 'The need we are seeing in Norfolk is on a par with what we are seeing across the board in terms of the worry concerning children's mental wellbeing.

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'There is definitely an increasing concern about debt in Norfolk which is affecting local families, especially those on lower incomes.'

The concerns have been revealed in two surveys carried out by Action for Children.

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The first, carried out by YouGov for of the charity, revealed that of 236 parents surveyed in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Bedfordshire 41pc worried about their child's mental health more than any other issue. Other issues of concern were diet and weight (36pc) and suffering from serious illnesses (22pc).

A second survey which asked the charity's managers about children and young people's mental-health and emotional wellbeing needs saw nearly two thirds say the level of need had increased in the last 12 months.

The same survey highlighted that the challenge of overcoming mental-health issues was not just confined to children and young people, with over half of managers saying they had seen an increase in the needs of children because of problems affecting their parent's mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Action for Children provides a range of support for more than 17,500 children and their families across 21 children's centres in Norfolk. The charity which works directly with more than 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers nationally runs 650 services across the country.

Ms Waterman said: 'Many parents are worried about their children's emotional wellbeing and changes in their child's behaviour. They realise that what affects them also affects their children. If we can help parents to manage these problems then the wellbeing of their children will improve.'

Depending on the reason of concern, the charity offers a range of crucial support to parents in the form of specialist courses and referrals to targeted services.

The delivery of such support is causing providers to come under increasing pressure.

Research by Mind has found local authorities are spending less than 1.5pc of their health budgets on preventing mental-health problems reflecting the general lack of spending on preventative health measures which is estimated to be only 4pc of the total NHS budget.

Parents are encouraged to contact Action for Children if they believe their child is in need of support.

Ms Waterman said: 'Help is available; our children's centres provide a place for families to go where children can play and make friends in an environment that promotes emotional wellbeing. Parents can speak to a member of staff and see what services are available to them in a non-stigmatised environment.'

In response to our campaign she went on to say: 'Even if you are not affected by these issues we offer lots of opportunities for members of the community to volunteer with us.'

Anyone wishing to find out more about volunteering with Action for Children and the services they offer should visit

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