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More than 4,600 children tell Barnardo’s what it’s like to be a child growing up in Cumbria

Summit 17 audience emoji vote (front – two children that helped to organise event

[N]early 2,000 children (43%) surveyed in Cumbria wish they could change life for other children in the county so they don’t live in poverty, have enough friends and can be happy.

These were some of the findings from a survey carried out by children’s charity Barnardo’s, in one of the largest reviews of its kind to give a voice to children in Cumbria.

The county-wide survey questioned more than 4,600 children aged between eight and 12 from all different backgrounds about the things they love, dislike and worry most about growing up in Cumbria, as well as finding out who children would turn to if they needed help and what they would wish for if they could change things for their families and other children.

When children were asked if they could change one thing for every child living in Cumbria if they had a magic wand, 21% (more than 960) said they wished that children didn’t have to live in poverty and could have better homes, more money and food, and a further 22% (more than 1030) said they wished children and their families didn’t have to go through tough times and that everyone could be well, have friends and be happy.

More than 450 children (10%) wished they could spend more quality time with their family (including through parents working less and being able to see relatives more often) and a staggering 29% of children (more than 1,340) wished that their families didn’t have things to worry about (including ill health and other worries) and that they could live happily ever after.

Children asking the panel questions at Summit 17

The resounding thing that children loved most about living in Cumbria (34%) was the environment around them – being in the countryside and in nature where they could be active, followed by 13% who loved their home and family life. Unsurprisingly, however, the environment (for reasons such as flooding and weather) also featured as the thing that most children (36%) disliked about living in the county.

The survey also highlighted children’s awareness of issues in the world around them, with 13% (more than 620) saying the thing they worried about most was bad things happening to them (including personal safety and being groomed or abducted). A further 11% worried about the environment around them, for factors such as flooding and industrialisation, and eight per cent of children said they were worried about terrorism.

Another key finding to come from the survey was that when children were asked who they would talk to (other than close family) if they needed help, 27% (more than 1240) responded to say they would confide in a friend, setting a challenge for Barnardo’s and other organisations to consider how these children are supported, so they are in turn able to support their peers.

The findings from the survey were announced on Sunday 15 October 2017 at a special ‘Summit 17’ event in Carlisle, where issues found to be of concern to children were highlighted and discussed.

A group of children from areas including Allerdale, Carlisle, Eden and South Lakes supported Barnardo’s to organise the family-focused Summit 17 event, where senior officials from police, council, NHS and Barnardo’s were quizzed by a panel of children to find out how the themes raised in the survey can be addressed.

Children, their families and professionals from Cumbria sat as audience to the debate and also took part in a number of workshops, before spending the afternoon enjoying a range of activities together such as sports, craft sessions, gaming and pamper areas.

Richard Simpson, Assistant Director for Barnardo’s in Cumbria said: “We wanted to get a strong picture of what it is like to be a child growing up in Cumbria today, and as well as finding out about things that make youngsters happy, we also wanted to know what they worry about most, including in their family life.

“What has become clear from this survey is that even at such a young age, children are extremely astute to what is going on in the wider world around them.

“Whilst it was good to see children still think about everyday childhood things such as pocket money and playing out, staff were also moved to realise children’s awareness of health and loss and their concern for the wellbeing of their families and other children.

“When children were told they could be given a magic wand to change one thing for every child living in Cumbria, they didn’t just wish for fantasy items such as a million pounds for every child, but for basic things that children need to be happy including friends and for families not to be living in poverty, highlighting their compassion and awareness of children not as fortunate.

“We are grateful to everyone that attended the fun Summit 17 event at weekend, from the children that helped to organise it, to the senior representatives from agencies who were grilled by our panel of children. We can all now use these findings to work together to look at how children and their families can be best supported in Cumbria.”

With nearly a quarter (*1) of the county’s eight to 12-year-olds taking part in the survey, it makes it one of the largest reviews of its kind to give a voice to children in Cumbria.

The results of the survey are being shared with many organisations across Cumbria, including Children’s Services, NHS, Environment and others.

(*1) There are approximately 21,050 eight to 12 year olds living in Cumbria and more than 4,650 responded to the survey.

Survey

The survey was carried out from July to mid-September with children from a large number of backgrounds, to ensure all children’s voices across Cumbria were represented. This included speaking with children at summer, community and leisure events, at Barnardo’s children’s centres and in schools including those for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The survey asked open questions and was carried out with children in relaxed settings, and where possible, in private, so that children’s honest feedback could be captured.

A ‘Comments Campervan’ from Diary Rooms Ltd supported staff from Barnardo’s to survey the children at events throughout the summer, with a large number of children video interviewed so their views can be fed back to organisations.

Some key findings from children surveyed in each of the following areas is broken down as below:

Allerdale

More than 970 of the children that responded to the survey were from the Allerdale area. Of these children:

  • 35% said the thing the loved most about living in Cumbria was the world around them (being in the countryside/in nature/could be active outdoors).
  • 35% of children said that the environment (for reasons such as flooding and weather) was the thing that they disliked most about living in the county.
  • When asked what worried them the most about being a child in Cumbria, 18% said they worried about bad things happening to them (including personal safety and being groomed or abducted).

When children were asked if they could change one thing for every child living in Cumbria if they had a magic wand, 26% said they wished that children didn’t have to live in poverty and could have better homes and more money and food, and a further 26% said they wished children and their families didn’t have to go through tough times and that everyone could be well and have friends and be happy.

Eden

Almost 500 of the children that responded to the survey were from the Eden area. Of these children:

  • 46% said the thing the loved most about living in Cumbria was the world around them (being in the countryside/in nature/could be active outdoors).
  • 39% of children said that the environment (for reasons such as flooding and weather) was the thing that they disliked most about living in the county.
  • When asked what worried them the most about being a child in Cumbria, 13% said they worried about bad things happening to them (including personal safety and being groomed or abducted).
  • When asked who they would talk to (other than close family) if they needed help, 38% responded to say they would confide in a friend.

South Lakes

More than 910 of the children that responded to the survey were from the South Lakes area. Of these children:

  • 52% said the thing the loved most about living in Cumbria was the world around them (being in the countryside/in nature/could be active outdoors).
  • 39% of children said that the environment (for reasons such as flooding and weather) was the thing that they disliked most about living in the county.
  • When asked if they could make one wish for their family, 33% of children wished that their families didn’t have things to worry about (including ill health and other worries) and that they could live happily ever after.

Carlisle

More than 2,270 of the children that responded to the survey were from the Carlisle area. Of these children:

  • 18% said the thing they liked most about living in Cumbria was their home and family life.
  • 35% of children said that the environment (for reasons such as flooding and weather) was the thing that they disliked most about living in the county.
  • When asked who they would talk to (other than close family) if they needed help, 27% responded to say they would confide in a friend.
  • When asked if they could change one thing for every child living in Cumbria if they had a magic wand, 22% said they wished children and their families didn’t have to go through tough times and that everyone could be well and have friends and be happy.

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