Families with seriously ill children face social isolation this Christmas as research shows 65% of UK feel alone facing major life problems

By Chris Hill · December 16, 2019

Looking at WellChild Family Tree

Research released today shows that 65% of the UK admit to feeling socially isolated or alone when going through a big life problem. Commissioned by WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children and their families, it also reveals that a quarter (25%) of the population feel as though their big life problems are even more burdensome when they don’t have someone to turn to for support.

Families supported by WellChild are caring around the clock for children with exceptional health needs. The relentlessness of care routines and lack of support can mean that for them these feelings can be even more extreme, especially when few people truly understand the reality of what they are going through. This is why we set up the WellChild Family Tree, a mutual support network of families who look to each other for emotional and practical support. Many of these families find this support crucial for getting through tough times.

A parallel survey of members found 95% admitted to feeling socially isolated or alone when going through a difficult time with their child before they had joined the WellChild Family Tree. Furthermore 82% of families surveyed said they had had times when they felt they had no one to turn to.

WellChild is reaching out to all families, anywhere in the country who are delivering round the clock care to a child with serious health needs to join the WellChild Family Tree for a chance to talk with other people who understand what they’re going through better than anyone – because they are going through it themselves.

In the UK more than 100,000 children are living with long term serious health needs with this number rapidly growing.  The majority of these children are primarily cared for by a family member. Unfortunately, the provision of psychological and emotional support for these carers can be severely lacking.

At present there are 1,492 families connected by the WellChild Family Tree but there is still a long way to go in order to close the gap of social isolation.

With health and social care now chronically underfunded, the services required to support carers are so oversubscribed, few ever receive proper help. According to The Disabled Children’s Partnership there is a £434 million funding gap in children’s social care, which means that, every day, disabled children are missing out on £1.2 million of support from authorities.[1]


“Families tell us that since joining the WellChild Family Tree, these feelings of isolation and having no-one to turn to have reduced. WellChild’s mission is to connect families who have children with exceptional health needs to ensure parents feel included, heard and supported. We want to let the thousands of families still in isolation know about this important resource.”

WellChild Director of Programmes, Tara Parker