The vulnerablity of children

New analysis carried out by Children's Commissioner, published this month, July 2017, indicates that of the 12 million children in England, almost 700,000 live in families with vulnerabilities, and over half a million children are so vulnerable that the state has to step in.

The research aims to shine a light on the nature and scale of children’s vulnerability. It looks at a set of 32 groups of children that have come to be associated with forms or vulnerability or risk. This report is the first stage in a longer-term project to identify and address children's vulnerability in England.

Commenting on the report, Dr Carol Homden, CBE, on behalf of Coram one of oldest children's charities, said:

"This report shines a light on the vast numbers of vulnerable children that exist in the UK.... It is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of children are still living in situations where they are unable to thrive because of the corrosive effects of the issues faced by adults around them. Achieving change requires both collective and individual action to ensure that families can access a consistently high level of support and that greater emphasis is given to children's rights and timescale."

The report found that:

  • Over 580,000 children – equivalent to the population of Manchester – are so vulnerable that the state has to step in and provide direct care, intervention or support
  • Nearly 400,000 children are living lives with poor outcomes or involving risky behaviour.
  • 800,000 children aged 5 to 17 suffer mental health disorders.
  • 200,000 children have experienced trauma or abuse.

To read the full report go to



What About The Children?'s new Patron John Timpson, receives a Knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List

What About The Children? is thrilled to announce that Sir John Timpson has agreed to be a Patron of the charity. Accepting the Trustees' invitation to be a Patron, John said 'I am keen to spread awareness of attachment problems and the importance of a strong bond during the early years of life'. John and his late wife Alex had three children and subsequently applied to be foster parents. Over many years they fostered almost 90 children and adopted two. He says that it was’ a light bulb moment’ when he went on a course and heard about Attachment Disorder and the importance of good attachment. John has written two booklets ‘A guide to attachment’ and’ Looking after looked-after-children' and he has done much to raise awareness about the needs of looked-after-children.

John Timpson started his career in his family retail business, based in Cheshire. The family firm of Timpsons is now one of the most successful retail business in the country with over 1800 branches nationwide. He has a unique business style which he calls 'Upside-down Management'.

Sir John has been awarded his knighthood for services to business and fostering. He said 'I hope I can put this recognition to good use by promoting our involvement with employing people from prison, encouraging every school to understand how to look after looked-after-children, and develop a greater understanding about stress in the workplace".

John Timpson joins Micheal Morpurgo OBE, author and former Children's Laureate and Rebecca Abrams, journalist and author (Three Shoes, One Sock and No Hairbrush) as Patrons of What About The Children?



'Building communities with resilient children at their hearts'

In his comment piece, published by the Nuffield Trust 05/06/2017, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green argues that the UK now needs a long-term, coherent, cross-party ideology and overarching policies that see children and young people as a vital priority and as citizens in their own right. To read the full article click here.

Your mother's voice reaches parts of the brain that others don't reach!

Recent research, published only in the last few weeks, has emphasised that a mother's voice plays a key role in the brain development of a child and should the mother's voice not be heard often and routinely development will be somewhat impoverished. Go to the Research Page to read our latest research summary.

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week June 2016 'Babies, Toddlers and their Relationships'

PIP UK joined forces with a number of other parenting and children's organisations to launch the UK's first national Infant Mental Health Awareness Week in June. 'Investing in Early Potential' was the focus of a key event chaired by Tim Loughton MP a former Minsiter for Children held in London during the week where delegates heard from speakers including Alistair Burt MP, Clair Rees (PIP UK), Chris Cuthbert (Big Lottery Better Start), Frank Field MP, Prof Jane Barlow (Warwick University), George Hosking (WAVE Trust), Dr Alain Gregoire (Perinatal Psychiatrist) Elaine Hanzak (personal testimony) and Andrea Leadsom MP (currently, Government Minister of State in the Department of Energy and Climate Change about the impact a child's early experience from conception has on their mental health.

It is worth repeating some of the shocking statistics highlighted during Infant Mental Health Awareness Week.

  • Child maltreatment costs £15 billion every year in the UK
  • Only 1% of government money for mental health is directed at young children.
  • Infant mental health requires attuned secure primary attachment
  • How we treat 0 - 2 shapes their lives and ultimately our society.

What was clearly evident from this week of events is that What About The Children?'s message about the importance of early years is now much more widely accepted and understood. There is no longer a lack of evidence or information about what needs to be done but there is still a way to go before this is reflected in government policy and the level of financial resource made available to Local Authorities.


Go to the Research Page to find our latest research summaries. These four papers have been selected from a review of 21 papers which appear in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology on aspects of 'The impact of stress on the brain: pathology, treatment and prevention'. They are of key interest for those seeking a better understanding of the wide range of effects that stress, in all its guises, has on children in their early years. The effect of early stress can affect the development of the brain with long-term consequences for the individuals concerned. Furthermore, high levels of stress in infancy can affect the child's genes by epigenetic changes. The research suggests that the outcome of the epigenetic process appears to be trans-generational transmission of some of the effects of the original stress.

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Brainwave, a New Zealand based organisation have given us permission to make their review 'How are the children doing?', written by Sue Younger and Keryn O'Neil, available in the UK. It provides useful advice on many of the questions and concerns parents have about childcare.

'We're all in this together, and we all want what is best for children. We know that almost all parents out there want to do the best by their children. Which is why they deserve good, honest, as-objective as-possible information.'

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'Baby Talk' - What They Say the Minute They're Born

Scientists have discovered that newborn babies are conveying nine different messages to their parents about how they feel in their first hour of life, it was announced at the What About The Children? national conference 10th March 2016. Click the link below to read in full.

pdf'Baby Talk' - What They Say the Minute They're Born


Press Release

pdfCall for Ban on Baby Rooms in Nurseries September 2014


What About The Children? has published helpful advice for parents who need to leave their children in day care with guidance on what they can do to alleviate the misery this separation can cause.



Baby Bonds - Parenting, attachment and a secure base for children, research published by the Sutton Trust last week, provides yet more evidence confirming the importance of secure attachment and bonding and why What About The Children? is right to focus on the emotional well being of children under threes as being key to a better society.

The full report can be viewed here.


A Manifesto for the Early Years – "Putting Children First" is launched by Save Childhood Movement.(SCM) The manifesto which is a collaborative publication by SCM of which What About The Children? is a member, calls on government to put the best interests of the child at the heart of all early years policymaking and expresses concern that this is not currently the case.

To read more go to