Referrals reveal half of Welsh families suffering serious problems

A charity that helps Welsh families with young children says almost half the parents referred to it have “serious hidden problems”.

New data from Home-Start reveals almost half (49%) of those referred to it are dealing with mental health problems and 48% have difficulties managing the behaviour of their children.

And the charity found 59% of parents suffer potentially debilitating isolation, while 70% struggle with their own self-esteem.

The findings have been released by Home-Start as it hosts a celebration at the Assembly today of 30 years of its home visiting service in Wales.

Speaking to Wales Online, Home-Start chief executive Rob Parkinson said: “We work closely with professionals such as GPs and health visitors, who generally refer parents for one specific issue, for example a mother’s post-natal depression.

“However the original issue is often just the tip of the iceberg and our volunteers are increasingly uncovering complex layers of problems including housing difficulties, domestic abuse and isolation.”

The charity says though it doesn’t just work with poorer families, many of those it helps are struggling financially.

Mr Parkinson said the UK’s Tory-led Government’s changes to the welfare system have made life more difficult for “some” of the families they work with.

Home-Start’s figures show 40% of the families they support in Wales are lone parents, higher than England (34%), Scotland (38%) and Northern Ireland (26%).

And despite ongoing concerns about real wages falling for the longest sustained period since 1964 Home-Start says many of those it sees will, because of the stigma of poverty, at first refer to other issues they face.

In addition to poverty Home-Start say rural isolation is one of the biggest issues faced by the families it works with in Wales.