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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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3.2 Rural poverty in Hampshire

Living in poverty is often associated with living in urban inner-city areas, like Ladywood. However, rural poverty is often over-looked. In the following video, Jane Payler talks with Clare Collins. Clare works at Home Start in the New Forest in Hampshire. Home Start is a national charity that supports vulnerable families.

Activity 3 Living in poverty in rural areas

Timing: 10 minutes

As you watch the video, consider the ways in which living on a low income in a rural area affects families.

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Video 2 Child health and rural poverty
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The previous sections explored some of the ways that living in poverty in an inner-city area and in a rural area can impact on children’s health. Pause for a few minutes and write down your thoughts about how living in poverty in an inner-city can be different, or similar, to living in poverty in a rural area.

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In the video, Clare explains that the New Forest covers a large area and is a popular tourist area. This can have a negative impact on families on low income, and in turn, this can impact negatively on children’s health.

Housing is expensive, like London prices, and affordable rental properties are usually beyond the reach of many families. Living in a tourist area impacts on jobs and income work in the New Forest relies on the tourist season which is from April to October. Consequently, employment may only be available during these months, and money can be in short supply during the time when there aren’t opportunities to earn money. Heating is expensive, and families often can’t heat their homes adequately.

Clare talks about a family that was moved into the area, an hour and a half away from their previous house, and because of the move, they lost their social network and support. She explains that they moved back because the loss of support was causing social isolation and the negative impact this can have on wellbeing and mental health. Parental mental health can have a profound impact on children’s health.

Living in a rural area can mean that people live long distances from health services and many can struggle with transport. Lack of reliable and frequent bus services, the cost of running a car and the cost of taxis can mean that getting to the doctor or the hospital is difficult. These factors can impact on accessing appointments for health services.

Claire explained how Home Start has helped families to support children’s health by providing transport for medical appointments. For example, the grandfather who needed to get his children to attend health care appointments that required a journey on two buses.

Even though children who live in rural areas may be surrounded by more open spaces and fields than children who live in urban spaces, Claire describes how they may be ‘kept in’ because parents fear judgment from other adults. Therefore, screens are being used to manage their children’s behaviour, which in turn means children are less active.

Home Start can help to get children out to playgrounds, this gives support to parents and helps to reduce parental anxiety. Importantly, getting children outdoors helps them to increase their levels of physical activity which helps with mental and physical health.