Sat, May 01, 2021

How Has Child Food Insecurity Been Impacted During the Covid-19 Pandemic (Birmingham UK)

Parents, guardians and carers in the Birmingham area were interviewed to reveal their experiences of accessing food and out-of-school services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research was commissioned by the University of Birmingham.
by Miss Gazala Aslam, Dr Jennifer Geraghty & Dr Barbara Hagger


What we did

In this report we discuss findings relating to food insecurity on children and their families and how this situation has been affected by Covid-19. The information was gathered from parents, guardians, and carers in and around Birmingham UK, in the Spring of 2021.

How we did it

Ten semi-structured interviews were carried out via the telephone. Participants were recruited through professional links and through poster circulation. Posters were distributed to libraries, food banks, youth centres, school newsletters, and on social media. Places of worship were also contacted and asked to mention our study during their announcements. The most successful methods for recruiting were via social media, school newsletters and word of mouth. 

What we found

The pandemic has changed the lives of many people in the UK.  Many have experienced problems with their personal finances, changing their lives in ways they could not possibly have imagined.  Ten participants gave their time to share with us the impact that Covid-19 restrictions have had on their family life.  Difficulties that have impacted upon their mental health and wellbeing and upon their children, causing parents to worry about their children’s future.  Concerns over the loss of employment and the effect that had on paying bills, finding money for shopping to feed their family and the need to ask for support.  In Section 1, our participants explain in their own words the impact those changes in their employment status have had upon them: the subsequent loss of income, reliance upon Universal Credit, loss of carers allowance, loss of sickness benefits and how being at home has increased their utility and food bills.  In Section 2, our participants discussed how their changed financial situations impacted upon their ability to get food and essential personal items for their families.  Made worse by loss of, or reliance upon, benefits to the point where they were unable to buy essential items for their children.  In Section 3, participants expressed their need for information and turning towards food banks and charitable organisations; help which was seen as a ‘Godsend’ to families.

Covid-19 has increased food insecurity and made difficult financial situations worse for many families.  The need for more research and policy making in these areas is now urgent.