In August 2021, the CSJ will be hosting a family cricket tournament at the Kia Oval. This unique event will bring together 30 families to enjoy a day of cricket and fun. Here’s why…
COVID-19 has undoubtedly disrupted normal life — especially for children. One in three reception children in England are not school ready: they do not know how to play, speak properly, or go to the lavatory on their own. This applies especially to the more disadvantaged: there is now a 7-month learning gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers due to lockdown. And a third of children and young people aged 8-24 have reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic.
What can be done?
The family with whom we isolate does not simply form our COVID “bubble”, but is a child’s first social contract: this is where we learn responsibility, rights, sharing and giving, and come to develop our sense of self and identity.
Though the traditional nuclear family unit – made up of married father and mother and their children – remains the prevailing structure in the UK, many families today include cohabiting couples and same-sex couples, lone parents, blended and other forms of extended family parenting. Whatever its structure, the stability of the family unit is a key determinant of long-term physical, mental and economic wellbeing.
Yet family breakdown has become endemic in this country, stifling individual potential and exacerbating social inequalities. In 2019, the Centre for Social Justice’s Family Policy Unit published the most comprehensive statistical review of the impact of family breakdown, in partnership with ComRes. It found that those who experience family breakdown before the age of 18, are:
- Over twice as likely (2.3 times) to experience homelessness
- Twice as likely (2.0 times) to be in trouble with the police or spend time in prison
- Almost twice as likely (1.9 times) to experience educational underachievement
- Almost twice as likely (1.9 times) to experience not being with the other parent of their child/ren
- Approaching twice as likely (1.8 times) to experience alcoholism
- Approaching twice as likely (1.7 times) to experience teen pregnancy
- Approaching twice as likely (1.7 times) to experience mental health issues
- More likely (1.6 times) to experience debt
- More likely (1.4 times) to experience being on benefits
This is not simply an inevitable consequence of modern society; 84% of children under 15 worldwide are still living with both their parents, and in Finland this goes up to 95%. The fact that only two-thirds of British children under 15 are living in intact families shows that Britain is quickly becoming a world leader in fully avoidable family breakdown.
Therefore, strengthening families should be a political imperative for any government determined to eradicate disadvantage and inequality. Supporting parents should be a key driver for public policy.
Being a parent is a multi-faceted, all-encompassing task: it involves teaching your children the importance of values, rules and self-expression, and establishing the foundations for positive future relationships. To achieve all this parenting calls for a significant investment – of time. Positive parenting is often squeezed out of our daily schedule, as we rush to prepare breakfast in the morning, take our child to school, go to work, shop for food. Parents need time — when we can savour our children’s company, really listen to their words, let them share our thoughts. But for many parents, this is a luxury they can’t afford.
The Centre for Social Justice Family Cricket Tournament seeks to give families the leisure time to bond. The legendary cricket ground, the Kia Oval, are generously hosting 30 disadvantaged families on the 10th of August for a whole day of fun — including watching Surrey play Warwickshire, playing on the field, a chat with Oval coaches, and food, drinks and entertainers. In the words of Mr Guatam Saraogi, a member of our Advisory Board:
“We hope that everyone recognises that who, what, where we are is mostly determined by our family. For too long too many of us have paid lip service to the adage “family is the most important thing”; the lockdown has perhaps highlighted how much truth and wisdom there is in that saying, and the CSJ Family day will not only serve to remind us (and policy makers) of this but also simply give each of us time-out to celebrate our unit as a whole together.
Also collaborating with us on this exciting project are the Slough Council for Voluntary Service, and the Akshaya Patra Foundation.
The Slough Council for Voluntary Service, which exists to improve the quality of life of people in Slough, has spent the past 80 years working to develop the voluntary sector in Slough.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, headquartered in Bengaluru, India, is an NGO working to eliminate classroom hunger, countering malnutrition and supporting the right to education of socio-economically disadvantaged children.
Family policy is arguably the most ‘homeless’ and overlooked of political issues: it feeds into almost all areas of policy, but no single lead Minister or governmental department has been appointed to tackle it. The Centre for Social Justice Family Policy Unit seeks to address this gap by putting family at the heart of British politics, and to advance policies that improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.