More than half of us don’t realise how many families are struggling to cope with multiple pressures such as bereavement, disability, unemployment and poor housing, new research shows.

A survey by YouGov for family support charity Home-Start suggests the public are underestimating how many families are struggling with multiple challenges. Home-Start believes this may be because families are putting on a ‘brave face’ and trying to keep problems behind closed doors.

Releasing the new research to tie in with its Snowflake Appeal for Vulnerable Children, Home-Start urged families overwhelmed by hardship and tragedy to reach out for support; because when parents are overwhelmed, they struggle to provide the love and routine that is so crucial to their children’s well being.

Rob Parkinson, chief executive of Home-Start UK, said: “We know that at any time, one in four families has to cope with multiple pressures – everything from mental health difficulties to bereavement*. But when we asked the British public, more than half (55%) thought the figure was much lower, with 38% choosing one-in-10 and 17% thinking it was one in 20.

“It may be that people don’t see the full extent of the problems facing families because of parents’ desire to mask them. This may be a result of cultural factors, like the British ‘stiff upper lip’, feelings of shame or inadequacy, or just becoming overwhelmed by the situation.”

A previous study** by Home-Start UK and YouGov showed that around two-thirds of parents believed being perceived as a ‘bad parent’ was the worst criticism a mother or father could imagine receiving, raising concerns that families may not seek outside support for fear of being judged.

Rob continued: “While most of the families we work with are referred to us by professionals in health, schools or social services, we are happy for families to refer themselves. We regularly see incredible parents who are struggling with really difficult circumstances. Often it just takes a little support to help families through a difficult time, so parents should never be afraid to ask for support when they need it.

“Our services are confidential and non-judgemental, and our volunteers, all of whom have parenting experience, work directly in the home. Making sure we can reach all the families and support vulnerable children is why our Snowflake Appeal is so important.”

Home-Start supports 32,000 families a year in 300 local communities across the UK, and relies on outside funding to maintain and improve their reach.

To support The Snowflake Appeal for Vulnerable Children, go to The charity is also appealing for more people with parenting experience to volunteer to support families in their local communities. People interested in volunteering for Home-Start can find out more at