• Video report by Hannah McNulty.

An emergency report has been carried out amid concerns about the effect Covid-19 is having on children's health and education in west Cumbria, especially those from poorer backgrounds.

There are calls for local authorities to act now to prevent a future crisis.

The West Cumbria Child Poverty Forum has worked with the University of Central Lancashire’s Suzanne Wilson. Their report found families from disadvantaged households will suffer the most from the consequencesof coronavirus, whilst many more families will fall into poverty,

Credit: ITV News

The findings show concerns about the lasting effects the lockdown measures will have on education for young people and children, particularly for those who are vulnerable or in poverty.

This is due to many families not having access to online resources at home, as well as children missing the 'conversational component' of face-to-face teaching.

A decline in the number of referrals to supportive services during the lockdown has also raised concerns about the emotional, and sometimes physical, well-being of some young people.

Credit: PA

Becky, a mum of four from West Cumbria, is feeling the strain. She said: "We have never had to ask for help before - and you just feel like you don't want to ask for help but you need it.

"You don't get it off anyone else because there's nothing out there for us, as we normally get a good income."

Her story is not unusual anymore. They're referred to as' newly vulnerable' at Moorclose Community Centre in workington.

Hard working families who've fallen on hard times - like Sasha - a key worker - whose finding her income just doesn't stretch at the moment.

She said: "Not only on feeding my kids but even buying paper for them to do their homework on, pens and paper and finding activities. I've tried to find stuff outside that's free.

"I asked school to help me but they said no because they're not in school so I've had to spend more to help my kids in this way."

Emma Williamson agrees - a county councillor, she also works for Copeland Borough Council and is helping efforts from a base in Cleator Moor.

She said: "We know we had issues before this. Take my ward - 47% of children were in child poverty and I dread to think what the figures are now because this pandemic has just increased the amount of need.

"I really fear if we hadn't put the support in early on then we would've seen people going hungry and people without support"

"What we need to really realise is it isn't just about food, it's about poverty of opportunity and education too."

28%

of children in Allerdale are living in poverty.

27%

of children in Copeland are living in poverty.

Suzanne, a Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Engagement at UCLan, said: “Times are still very uncertain but we hope that this research gives the local authorities, the public sector and third sector organisations a snapshot of the emerging picture and ways they can act now to support those most in need.”

Services have been collaborating to best meet the needs of families experiencing hardship.

Suzanne added: “We remain convinced that our report will make a valuablecontribution in informing the recovery effort, which, according to economic and social science experts around the globe, will take some considerable time.”

  • The full report is available on UCLan’s Centre for Citizenship and Community webpage.