The biggest worry for Blackpool families this winter is the cost of food and heating their homes, according to a survey in the town.
A poll of 495 professionals working with Blackpool’s poorest families found 73 per cent of respondents felt a large number would have to choose between heating and eating this year.
The survey, by Blackpool Better Start, also revealed a ‘baby blind spot’ with fears raised that babies and toddlers have missed out more on support during the pandemic compared to school age children.
The results were gathered at Blackpool Better Start’s recent online conference, Rebuilding the Future: Putting Babies and Children First.
Delegates were asked a number of questions while listening to presentations from child development and early years specialists about how the sector can recover from the pandemic to ensure Blackpool’s youngest children are not forgotten.
Other polls revealed the audience was ‘not confident’ the Government’s levelling-up agenda will help disadvantaged children, with 85 per cent concerned children aged under four are not receiving the same support as older children.
Clare Law, director of the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development, said: “The conference gave us a great opportunity to find out from frontline staff how they felt about a number of issues facing Blackpool families.
“Nationally we have seen a ‘baby blind-spot’ during the pandemic, with resources and attention being diverted more to school age children than babies and toddlers.
“It is crucial that our lock down babies and their families are supported and have access to services during their most critical time of development.
“It as concerning to see how prevalent our workforce feels that food and fuel poverty will be this year, with many expressing fears for how they will cope.
“Normally mental health issues are the biggest challenge for families, so for this to have been placed second really does highlight how concerned our workforce is about the rising costs of fuel and living, and how this will impact our families.”