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Issue Date:- 28 April 2008


A public opinion poll published by The Children’s Society, as part of its ongoing Good Childhood Inquiry, reveals mounting concern among adults in the North of England about children’s mental health and well being. When asked to rate children’s happiness today compared to when they were growing up, only 12% of respondents felt children nowadays are happier.

The Children’s Society commissioned the GfK NOP poll to complement the launch of a summary of the evidence submitted to the inquiry on its fifth theme, children’s health. Professionals and members of the public submitted evidence on a variety of health concerns but a large number of responses highlighted an issue barely acknowledged by past generations, with children’s mental health and well being.

The concerns of adults in the north echo what children themselves have told The Good Childhood Inquiry. In a survey of 8,000 14 to 16 year olds, carried out by The Children’s Society as part of the inquiry, 27% of young people agreed with the statement I often feel depressed.

In a separate online vote, conducted by CBBC Newsround for the inquiry, 78% of those who voted said they felt fine, good or really good about their health; however a worrying 22% felt bad or really bad.  Many also said they felt under pressure to look good, with 7 out of 10 admitting they dieted some or all of the time.

A number of children submitting evidence commented on the importance of being free from stress, pressure and worry. In some cases they explicitly linked pressure to school, the influence of peers, bullying, family expectations and their looks. Interestingly when asked what has the most negative impact on children’s well-being generally, adults responding to the GfK NOP poll rated family breakdown and conflict (30%) and peer pressure (24%) highly.

Considering the issue of how to promote better mental health and well being for children, Professor Stephen Scott, Institute of Psychiatry and an inquiry panel member said:- “Many respondents to the inquiry shared the belief that well being depends on good relationships, especially within the family; on a sense of purpose and on freedom.  To achieve this, child mental health and well being must be everybody’s business. Support for parents is crucial; schooling has a key part to play; and providing the effective treatments now available for children with mental health problems takes time, skill and resources.”

Many of the submissions expressed concern about the impact that poverty and social disadvantage has on mental health and well being. Refugee children, children in trouble with the law, children with disabilities and children at risk on the streets, with whom The Children’s Society works on a daily basis, are among those most affected by these issues.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society said:- “There is a growing recognition of the true cost of neglecting children’s mental health and well being. Too often mental health and well being have been dismissed as being of little importance but there is now an understanding that if we want to give children a better childhood these matters must be addressed. We now need to translate this growing concern into action and investment in the necessary support services.”

71% of Northerners surveyed in the GfK NOP poll said the increase in indoor activities, such as computer games and television watching, prevents children nowadays from being more active, while 85% agreed children need more education about healthy diets.

There was an overwhelming consensus among respondents that physical health plays a crucial role in mental health, with 95% agreeing to some extent that physical activities are an important element in promoting mental health.

The Children’s Society has already released evidence summaries on the inquiry’s 1st 4 themes are friends, family, learning and lifestyle. The inquiry will meet this summer to discuss the remaining theme of values before publishing its final report in early 2009.

The public can contribute to The Good Childhood Inquiry by logging on to  and sharing their childhood memories. 


A Liverpool student who founded a company that produced a computer program which enabled people with colour-blindness to see colours that they would normally miss has made his business Ł20,000 richer after winning the first Unipreneurs Awards, designed to recognise Britain’s brightest young men and women who are combining their studies with running a successful business.

Luke Walsh, 25, along with fellow student and colleague Luke Jefferson, was voted the UK’s No.1 Unipreneur by a specially invited audience of 200 guests, at the BAFTA Theatre in London.  Walsh and Jefferson beat 4 other contenders to walk away with the cash after being grilled live on-stage by a celebrity panel of experts who decided that their company had the vital X-factor for future success.

The government-backed Awards, presented in association with the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE), follows a recent study that suggests there could be as many as 80,000 students running a campus-born business, with some already on the way to their first million.

When computer science student Luke Jefferson took a holiday internship working as a programmer for a graphic design company, he made an interesting discovery.  Computers, he realised, completely failed to take into account the problems of people with impaired colour vision, or colour blindness.  Restarting his PhD to allow him to work on the necessary technology, he developed a software application that allows colour blind people to adapt their computer displays to suit their various needs, enabling them to access colour coded data, graphics and charts.  Now finalising work on his thesis, Luke has joined forces with a new partner, Luke Walsh, and is developing 2 new innovative business initiatives that will include making his colour blind accessibility software available online.

Ian Robertson, Chief Executive of the Government-backed NCGE added:- “This generation of ‘Unipreneurs’ are using their hard earned educations to start-up credible businesses and make them real contenders in competitive markets.  Walsh and Jefferson’s determination and enthusiasm make them deserving winners of the top title.”

Pioneering sight loss service set for Liverpool

ACTION for Blind People’s pioneering mobile Sight Loss Information Service packed with the latest aids, equipment and specialist advice for blind and partially sighted people will be visiting Warrington and Southport in May at the kind invitation of Action for Blind People Merseyside Team.

The mobile Sight Loss Information Service, run by national charity Action for Blind People, will open its doors to people interested in or affected by visual impairment. Staffed by a friendly and knowledgeable team, the mobile carries the latest technology and gadgets to improve daily life. From vibrating bank note detectors to talking microwaves and tin lids, staff on the unit offer impartial, practical advice and support.

Robert Harris from Action for Blind People’s Sight Loss Information Service said:- "Everybody is welcome to come along to visit us on the mobile. Whether you are visually impaired or know somebody who may be having problems with their sight, please pay us a visit and pick up information or ask us questions. Visitors can try out a wide range of daily living aids or the latest computer and magnification technology.”

The Mobile Itinerary:-

Wednesday, 21 May 2008 - between 10am and 4pm on Horsemarket Street, Warrington

Thursday, 22 May 2008 – between 10am and 4pm on, Southport Town Hall Gardens, Lord Street, Southport

Friday, 23 May 2008 – between 10am and 4pm, Horsemarket Street, Warrington

If you are unable to visit the Sight Loss Information Service but have a query please ring Action for Blind People’s National Freephone Helpline on 0800 915 4666 and they will be pleased to help.

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