One in three young people say families relied on food support – study

One in three young people say their family have relied on food banks or other community outlets for supplies in recent months, new research suggests.

The Co-op and children’s charity Barnardo’s said their study of 5,000 10 to 25-year-olds found the “stark impact” the cost-of-living crisis was having on their access to food and mental well-being.

Almost half of young people have worried about being able to afford things in the past six months, with one in three saying their family has used food support, such as a community fridge or food bank, said the report.

Almost one in four said they have started the day without a meal.

The study also found that the rising cost of living is having a “significant knock-on impact” on young people’s life goals, as making it through day-to-day takes priority.

Having enough money to cover basic needs has become the most common aspiration for most young people, overtaking other traditional goals such as achieving their dream job or buying a house, said the report.

Only three in four of those surveyed said they believe it is likely they will be able to have enough money to cover basic needs in the future.

Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief executive of Co-op Group, says: “The cost of living has had a seismic impact on young people, with many having to prioritise immediate needs like where their next meal will come from, over long-term goals and aspirations.

“Remarkably, despite all of this, young people continue to show resilience and ambition to create a better future, but all too often they are cut out of important discussions and policy making decisions that directly impacts them.

“We know that taking a grassroots approach and giving young people a voice on the issues which affect them will drive better long-term outcomes for them and their communities.”

Lynn Perry, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: “We know from our frontline work supporting children and families across the UK that too many are struggling to access the very basics, including food, and there’s an increasing impact on their mental wellbeing and opportunities.

“Worryingly, our new research with Co-op shows that young people seem to be losing hope and do not feel optimistic about their futures.”