A little girl stands besides a plate of biscuits looking sad

No child should grow up in poverty

It's no longer a case of families choosing between eating or paying the bills. Now, many families can't afford either.

But that's the reality facing millions of families across the UK today.

Lynn Perry, Michelle Collins and young people stand with a petition in front of 10 Downing Street.

Our free school meals petition has been delivered to 10 Downing Street.

Thank you to over 32,000 people who signed our petition calling for free primary school meals across England. Actress Michelle Collins, alongside our CEO Lynn Perry and young people supported by Barnardo's, delivered it to the Government. Read what Jake and Dasha thought about the experience.

More than one in four children in the UK are living in poverty and the cost-of-living crisis will make this worse as families struggle to pay their bills. That's about eight children in every classroom.

Growing up in poverty means children are at risk of going cold and hungry; they miss out on opportunities; and their physical and mental health suffers - all of which can affect them long into adulthood. Half of parents have cut back on food shopping and essentials, and almost a quarter of parents (23%) have struggled to provide sufficient food due to the cost-of-living crisis. 

It shouldn't be this way. No child should grow up in poverty. 

That's why we're taking action right now. Our frontline staff are providing essential support for young people and families who are using our services and are struggling by delivering clothes, appliances and vouchers to help with everyday essentials like food.  

We're also calling on the government to provide free school meals for all primary school children in England, as well as asking for more to be done to tackle 'holiday hunger'. 

Through our influencing work, we’re standing up for every child waking up in a cold home. For every parent or carer who’s struggling to put food on the table. And for every family worried about how they’re going to pay their increased bills.  

Help us take action by donating now.

A crisis on our doorstep

The deepening impact of the cost-of-living crisis on children and young people in the UK and recommendations for action.

Our report, A crisis on our doorstep, takes a closer look at how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting children, families and young people using Barnardo’s services. 

Growing up in poverty means children miss out on opportunities and their physical and mental health suffers, all of which can affect them long into adulthood. We are working urgently to get extra help to the families we support but the current situation is inacceptable. We need all governments across the UK to take action.

We are calling on governments across the UK to:
- take more targeted action to reduce child poverty
- extend the provision of free school meals
- embed preventative approaches to reduce the impact of poverty on children’s health
- strengthen social security so the poorest families can afford to replace or repair essential household items
- prioritise innovative solutions to keep children safe and warm for longer such as extending family hubs to every community and implementing a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations.
We’ve had to go to food banks and have been supported by Barnardo’s with food vouchers. I’ve been cutting back on the amount and quality of the food shopping and I have gone without to make sure my daughter has a proper meal.

Kerry, supported by Barnardo's in Rotherham

How we're helping children in poverty

  • We’re delivering clothes, appliances and vouchers to young people and families who are using our services and who are struggling, to help with everyday essentials like food.

  • We’re working with children, young people and their families when they’re having trouble accessing food banks, or when the supplies at food banks don’t meet their needs.   

  • Our holiday clubs are lifelines for families who rely on free school meals, providing nutritious food for children and somewhere for them to learn and have fun during the school holidays.  

  • We're calling on the Government to introduce free school meals for all primary school children in England and do more to tackle hunger during the school holidays.  In February this year we delivered our free school meals petition with over 32,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street.

  • A woman wearing a beauty therapist uniform sits in a beauty salon

    Becky's story

    Watch and read to learn how Barnardo's is helping Becky, a 31-year-old mum of two young children, with professional training and cost-of-living support through our Byker Sands Family Centre in North Tyneside.

  • A woman embraces two small children

    Aliyah's story

    Aliyah was struggling to afford nappies for her young children. Read how Barnardo’s children’s centres and family hubs can make all the difference to families like Aliyah's.

  • A young carer sits besides a bed where her mother is sleeping.

    Bella's story

    Bella and her family are supported by Barnardo's Lancashire Young Carers service. Read how the service has helped by providing support towards the cost of clothing, food, and children’s items as well as giving her the opportunity to learn vital life skills.

The staff at Barnardo’s are so friendly and supportive. They listen to you unlike some other professionals, and my Barnardo’s support worker has helped me massively. For a long time I didn’t want to accept help, but she encouraged me to feel okay about receiving food vouchers which I could use at my local foodbank. She’s also helped me access things like housing and household support grants to reduce my utility bills

Aliyah, supported by Barnardo's in Birmingham.

Play or pause video

A head teacher's view on the cost-of-living crisis

Mark Shears is the Head Teacher of High Close School, a specialist day and residential school. Mark spoke with us about the potential impact the cost-of-living crisis could have on families.
We’d have been at a standstill without this support. My child’s health was declining, and I dread to think where this would have gone. My own mental health was also declining. It has been lovely to have support from Barnardo’s. Things are still tough, but I’m more optimistic now. A few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to do and where to go

Sarah, supported by Barnardo's Northern Ireland.

  • A young sad-looking girl sits on a doorstep

    A crisis on our doorstep

    Our report, A crisis on our doorstep takes a closer look at how the national situation is affecting children, families and young people using Barnardo’s services. 

  • Young boy and Barnardo's worker

    Stay updated with our newsletter 

    There's so much you can do to help children and their families cope. Sign up for our newsletter to keep updated about our work and how you can help.

  • Parent holding childs hand

    Get support

    Struggling with the cost-of-living crisis? Don't be afraid to ask for help. Get advice and support today.

Work in partnership with us

Graphic with text: We're giving £100 for every property we value, raising £1 million to help vulnerable children in your local community.

We are calling on businesses across the UK to partner with us in addressing child poverty. Arun Estate Agencies Ltd. and their colleagues at Cubitt & West, Douglas Allen, Pittis and Wards are raising £1 million to help us provide essential support to children in South East England this winter.

Learn more about corporate partnerships

Thank you for believing in children

Of every £1 we spend 92p goes on our work

Of every pound we spend (excluding retail costs) 92p goes on our work. 3p on governance and pension costs and 5p on raising the next £1. For full details of our spend, see our latest annual report.

Donations will be used to fund areas of our work where the need is greatest.

Names and details have been changed and models used to protect the privacy of children we help.