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Issue:- 24 February 2010

Family stress levels record a new high

FAMILY Lives, the leading family support charity, has recorded its highest proportion of calls relating to family stress, anxiety and depression, at a time when families are starting to feel the impact of budget cuts and increases in cost of living. This worrying picture is one in which demand for family support services from vulnerable families, and in particular from those struggling with poor mental health or wellbeing, is increasing at the very time cutbacks are being made. The charity is calling for greater recognition and understanding of the type of support that embattled families need. It is highlighting the effective role of parenting support interventions in turning escalating problems around and improving the wellbeing of both child and parent. Poor mental health in parents and children, if untreated, can have a long lasting impact, and have a high cost in terms of both human and economic impact on individuals, families and society as a whole.

Over the last quarter period between October and December 2010, of the 9,684 long calls taken, 82% of callers (7944 calls) were seeking support from the charity's Parentline regarding their own and/or their children's mental or emotional health. During this period, calls involving adult mental or emotional health concerns comprised of 51.5% (4996 calls). Calls involving concerns about children’s emotional or mental health comprised 30% (2948 calls for October to December 2010).

In January 2011, Family Lives’ Parentline has received the highest ever demand on these 2 issues in the 3 years since the data has been collected in an equivalent way (32% for children and 53% for adults).

Family Lives’ 2 year analysis (January 2009 to January 2011) has also shown that during January 2011, the charity had the highest number of calls concerning adults’ stress (1742 calls, 50% of all long calls). Stress levels in particular, have increased by 41% in the last 6 months (August 2010 to January 2011).

Concern about children’s emotional and mental health is also on the rise. Our two year analysis (January 2009 to January 2011) has shown that during January 2011 Parentline has received the highest number of calls concerning children’s stress (691 calls, 20% of all long calls; 63% of all long calls about child mental health and wellbeing). Children’s stress levels in particular, have increased by 79% (from 386 calls to 691 calls) in the last 6 months (August 2010 to January 2011).

Jeremy Todd, Chief Executive of Family Lives says:- “Parentline call data has always demonstrated that family issues and concerns over mental health and wellbeing go hand in hand. However, we are concerned about the sharp increase in levels of stress, anxiety and depression that families are reporting through Parentline. While we welcome the government’s recent mental health strategy, and in particular, the announcement of the expansion in talking therapies based services to children and young people, the worrying picture that is emerging is one where demand for effective family support in relation to mental health and wellbeing is growing when local support services are at risk of being scaled back. It’s hard to say what factors are causing this sharp increase in family stress, but increasing pressure on family finances may be one contributory factor. Family Lives recently found that the state of the family finances is families’ biggest worry; with 53.5% of parents stating that their family finances are in a worse state than last year.  If the right support isn’t in place for families during this time of economic uncertainty, we will be storing up trouble for the future. The cost effectiveness of effective family support is well proven. Mental health problems costs the UK over 100 billion pounds every year, a significant proportion of which could be prevented by spending a comparatively small amount on effective preventative, early intervention based support. Parents are encouraged to call our free Parentline on:- 0808 800 2222 for support.”

Poor parental mental health is associated with a 4 to 5 times increased risk of conduct disorder for the child.  Evidence based parenting interventions promote better parental mental health, better outcomes for the child, including school behaviour and attainment and reduce the risk of a lifetime course of poor health and outcomes, including criminality and anti-social behaviours. They reduce the take-up of risky behaviours including smoking, alcohol and substance misuse. They also have the power to break negative intergenerational cycles by improving parenting style and skills for the current as well as next generation5.

Parents concerned about their own, or their child’s emotional health or wellbeing can call the free Family Lives 24 hour Parentline on:- 0808 800 2222, or email them for a personalised reply within 3 days.


A local business has backed an innovative scheme designed to help vulnerable people in the event of a medical emergency. Polar Ford is supporting the Lion’s Club ‘Message In A Bottle’ scheme which provides paramedics, ambulance staff and doctors with vital information when they are called to the home of a patient who’s unconscious or unable to communicate for any reason.

The free life-saving scheme works in very a simple way. A small plastic bottle containing a comprehensive medical form is left in the home refrigerator and a green sticker is placed on the front door which alerts emergency staff to the medical information contained in the fridge. This means that valuable time can be saved when treating patients who are unable to communicate as the ‘Message in a Bottle’ contains their medical history, information on any allergies and medications.

Paramedic, Martin Stamp, said:- “It’s such a simple idea but can mean the difference between life and death. Time is critical in emergency situations and the bottle could literally save someone’s life.”

Brian Wallis from the Lions Club International stressed their commitment to the scheme:- “Message In A Bottle is very important to Lions Club members as it supports members of the local community who need it most. We are very pleased that Polar Ford is backing the scheme so that more people can have access to the bottles.”

Polar Ford dealership has a free supply of bottles for customers who feel that they could make use of the scheme in the event of an emergency.

Malcolm Tutton, Motability Manager at Polar Ford, said:- “We are thrilled to be supporting this fantastic scheme for vulnerable members of the community. The speed at which paramedics can obtain key medical information could prove potentially life-saving. We would therefore encourage elderly or disabled individuals to collect a free bottle.”

Polar Ford is committed to supporting disabled customers and was recognised by the disabled drivers organisation Motability for providing the best support and customer service for a fifth year running in 2010.  To collect a free bottle, please visit your local Polar Ford Motability specialist on Sherdley Road, St Helens, or call:- 01744 610600.

Gay Quarter Future Considered

CONSULTATION is beginning about how Liverpool’s gay quarter, the area around Stanley Street, can develop in the future.  Feria Urbanism have been commissioned to carry out the consultation which will look at formulating a vision and identity for the area and harnessing its potential.

The area has a vibrant night-time economy of bars and pubs which cater for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. But it also has businesses and residential properties which also cater to the wider community.

Views are being gathered on how best this quarter can be developed to put it on a par with similar areas both in the UK and internationally.  The consultation will look at the physical aspects of the quarter, including its public realm, how it integrates with neighbouring areas and how it is marketed. It will also look at safety issues in the area.

Councillor Nick Small, cabinet member for employment and skills, said:- “The area around Stanley Street has developed over time to be the city’s gay quarter although there are many businesses there which cater for all communities.  We want Liverpool to be known as an inclusive city. We have made strides in this in recent years and are being seen as a more gay friendly city than was the case a few years ago. The success of the Pride festival last year was evidence of that.  We now need to look at how we can develop and promote the quarter. At a time of austerity that presents a real challenge but if we can have a quarter which is inclusive, dynamic and welcoming it can be a key economic driver for the city centre.”

Richard Eastham, urban planner from Feria Urbanism, said:- “The Stanley Street project is extremely interesting for us. The area has a rich history; it is said that John Lennon bought his first guitar from a shop on Stanley Street.  But this place should have a bright future too. This project will bring together many different voices and people, including club owners and architects, street designers and festival organisers, taxi drivers and restaurateurs, lawyers and lighting designers. We will use the ideas and inputs from these fascinating characters to create and develop a coherent vision for this vital part of the city centre.  We hope that this vision will have a real influence on decision-makers when they consider the future of the Stanley Street area.”

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