The reality of child poverty in Leeds during the cost of living crisis

Find out how the cost of living crisis affects children and the respite they can find with Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm.

8th April 2024

Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm has been supporting the city’s most vulnerable young people for many years, but the current cost of living crisis is placing even more strain on disadvantaged families across Leeds. Rising costs are pushing already struggling families to the brink, meaning more children than ever are deprived of essentials and the joyful, carefree childhood that all children deserve.

When you look at the stats, the extent of the crisis is heartbreaking. According to Barnardos, more than 1 in 4 of all children in the UK now live in poverty. Here in Leeds, the problem is hard to ignore. An estimated 20% of children across our city live below the poverty line but in some areas, this figure soars past 50%. For these children, basics that we all take for granted like nutritious meals, warm clothes and heating at home can become luxuries.

The cost of living crisis

The ‘cost of living crisis’ refers to a recent major spike in prices. This affects essentials like rent, food, energy bills and more. It started in late 2021 when inflation drove up costs much faster than average wages increased. The result is that many household budgets have taken a hit, with more families than ever before struggling with essentials like putting food on the table and paying bills.

The average food bill for a family of five in the UK has jumped as a result of the cost of living crisis. As of 2023, the Office for National Statistics reported the average weekly food cost for these households was around £103, which has risen by a huge 18% from the previous year.  As costs rise, financial insecurity is becoming more and more common. For families who are already low-income, the impact is even more worrying, with low budgets spread far too thin. These families might face agonising choices over whether to heat their homes or buy food – often forgoing the basic needs we can take for granted.

It’s still unclear how long the cost of living crisis will last. Projections estimate the issue might begin to improve throughout 2024, however with wages still behind for many households, the impact means many families will still struggle to get by. Wages compared to the cost of living may not level out until 2027, which is a frighteningly long time for those struggling – and especially families with young children.

How does poverty affect child development?

Children all deserve reliable access to food, safe housing and warmth. When these essentials are taken away, it can leave children with long-lasting trauma that extends into adulthood. A childhood with a lack of joy and comfort can result in children facing a greater risk of developing mental health problems, underperforming in school and struggling to build relationships as they grow up.

Further issues that can arise as a result of child poverty include:

  • Stress
  • Poor nutrition
  • Homelessness
  • Hindered development

How we help

With so many local families experiencing desperate financial situations, our role at Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm is more important than ever. While we understand we can’t completely alleviate these issues, we help to provide respite and new learning opportunities for both children and families. We do this by creating moments of joy and enriching experiences for children in need. Simply put, allowing children to be children again.

At Lineham Farm, young people have the chance to forget any worries and struggles they’re facing at home. Instead, they can enjoy exciting activities, make new friends, learn new things and have lots of fun, all in the beautiful surroundings of the Yorkshire countryside. We provide a safe space for children to recharge and feel cared for – it’s childhood as it should be.

We collaborate with local schools, social workers and other partners across Leeds to connect disadvantaged young people to free residential trips, respite, and other activity days, ensuring the city’s highest-need children have reliable access to a supportive, safe space. With the help of generous supporters, we can continue providing comfort and joy to the young people who deserve it the most – in a time when it’s more important than ever.

Can you help us ease the burden?

We can’t carry out this important work alone. We rely on generous donations to keep our services running, and your support can make a lasting impact on the lives of the children that we help here at Lineham Farm. Your donations pay for children to spend time in a safe and happy environment, doing activities like riding bikes, climbing, learning about nature and simply having fun.

If you’re looking for ways to support Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm, you can find out more here