NEARLY a quarter of parents across Yorkshire feel lonely or isolated - regularly feeling cut off from friends and family, a leading charity has said.
Action for Children said it was unearthed the “shocking scale” of loneliness among parents, with 23 per cent of those surveyed in the region saying they regularly feel lonely, and 19 per cent saying that feeling had become worse since they became a parent.
The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness about the issue of loneliness, which can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, since February 2014.
Read more about Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic here.
The charity’s research also highlighted the importance of having a support network to rely on, with more than half - 57 per cent - saying it is particularly important to have friends who are also parents.
Action for Children’s director of children’s services in Yorkshire, Carol Iddon, told The Yorkshire Post societal changes over recent years had made it more isolating being a new parent.
She said: “Becoming a parent is a massive lifestyle change. You get all the excitement and joy of a new baby but when you get home that can wear off.
“A couple of generations ago you would have lived on the same street or estate as your own parents but now families are much more dispersed, so that support isn’t always there.
“People are having children at different stages of their lives too, so whereas it might have been in the past that within a friendship group everyone would be starting a family at the same time, now it’s over a much wider period, so new mums in particular can feel like they are going through it alone.
“It’s troubling to see that so many parents feel isolated.”
Action for Children runs various services throughout Yorkshire offering support, including four children’s centres in Kirklees and one ion Dearne, Barnsley.
Ms Iddon said having a network to call upon was “vital”.
“Becoming a parent doesn’t come with a handbook; you’re always learning and as your children grow their needs, and the skills you need to call on as a parent, change,” she said.
“Local services like our Dewsbury Moor children’s centre in Kirklees can offer a real lifeline to parents who feel isolated – somewhere to meet and make friends. Staff there won’t judge if you drop in looking for support, and you can take part in activities like play sessions or parenting classes.
“And the great thing about them is that they offer universal provision - you don’t need to be referred and can simply walk in, pick up a leaflet and starting talking to people.”