Listening to children: gaining a perspective of the experiences of poverty and social exclusion from children and young people of single-parent families

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This paper reports on the experiences and views of children and young people of single-parent families, as findings from a European Union-funded research project undertaken in England, Greece and Cyprus. The objectives of the research project were to investigate how children and young people of single-parent families understand and experience their worlds as members of these families: whether and to what extent they experience poverty and social exclusion and how they cope with the challenges that this confronts them with. Methodology was replicated in each of the countries; however, this paper draws on the English experiences. Semistructured interviews (40) and focus groups (four) were undertaken with children of single parents. In addition, focus groups were undertaken with children of two-parent families (four), focus groups with single parents, focus groups with two-parent families (four) and individual interviews with key professionals. Detailed discussion guides were followed, with open-ended questions to allow participants to express their feelings and ideas in their own words. The research sample included children from single-parent and two-parent families, aged 6 years to 16 years, balanced in terms of age, gender and geographical location. Findings demonstrate the children's and young people's understanding of the impact of poverty and social exclusion on their family life and their everyday experiences. The positive benefits of being in a single-parent family are highlighted, with 'time poverty' raised as a significant issue. Children and young people are aware of their poverty and how it influences exclusion from friendships, play, leisure and community activities. Policy needs to take account of the systematic reality of children's experiences; alliances with adults that support meaningful involvement and participation by children and young people will make a significant contribution to this.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-36
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • Child, Cyprus, England, Greece, Humans, Poverty, Single Parent, Social Isolation