Published on
08 July 2019

Two thirds (67 per cent) of young people believe their generation will be worse off than their parents, according to new Barnardo’s research published today (Monday).

The charity’s ‘Overcoming the Poverty of Hope’ report also reveals that 62 per cent of 16-24-year-olds feel the government cares more about older generations than their own.

More than a third of young people (35 per cent) said they felt negative about their future. The main reasons they gave for this were a lack of jobs or careers, money and financial worries, and high house prices.

While only 15 per cent think their generation will have worse physical health and life expectancy than their parents, 69 per cent believe they will have worse happiness or good mental health.

More than half (54 per cent) said climate change was one of the most important issue facing the country over the next three to five years, with 42 per cent saying older generations don’t seem to understand or be interested in this issue.

Britain leaving the EU was also an important issue for young people (62 per cent), and a quarter (25 per cent) were also concerned about the economy.

The report, which includes the results of a YouGov survey of 1,036 young people for Barnardo’s and feedback from the charity’s service users, paints a picture of a generation who don’t feel they are listened to by society or decision-makers when it comes to challenges facing the country.

It will be launched today at Barnardo’s Summer Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons, sponsored by Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP.

At the event the charity will also announce TV presenter and mother-of-two Natasha Kaplinsky OBE as its new President.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

“While material poverty is part of the problem, many children and young people today also feel there is little or no possibility of a positive future, what we call a ‘poverty of hope’.

“The voices of young people are missing from debates about the challenges facing the country. They feel ignored by society and decision makers who are focussed on the concerns of older generations.

“Collectively, we can help young people overcome this poverty of hope by believing in them, nurturing their talents, providing opportunities, knocking down barriers, and listening to them when it comes to decisions that affect their futures.”

Barnardo’s President Natasha Kaplinsky said:

“As a mother I believe all children deserve the care and opportunities we would want for our own children. It is our duty as adults to listen to young people and keep in mind that our decisions affect their future.”

 “Having visited some of Barnardo’s services, I’ve had the opportunity to meet incredibly inspiring children and the talented staff who support them. Every day this amazing charity is helping to rekindle hope in the lives of vulnerable young people across the UK.

“I am truly honoured to be joining Barnardo’s as their new President.”

Harry Scott, 16, from North Shields, attends the BASE in Whitley Bay, a youth support service run by Barnardo’s. He said:

“I think we’re probably going to be worse off than our parents – with housing and jobs, because of the focus on Brexit there’s a lack of moving forward with the times.

“I’m hopeful but I’m not convinced about the job security. With the technology evolving all the time it’s hard for jobs to be secure because there’s so much change that will only accelerate and certain jobs will become obsolete. I want to join the police force, but they might not be recruiting as the numbers are going down with all public services being cut.”

Chair of the Education Select Committee Robert Halfon MP said:

“As a society we are here to help all young people climb the ladder of opportunity, regardless of their background.

“UK society is changing faster than ever before – from climate change, to the increasing use of technology, to big questions about the UK’s future in the modern world. 

“The impact of these changes will be felt by children and young people for decades to come, so it is vital they are given a voice and feel heard by society and decision makers.”


Barnardo’s is making 11 recommendations to Government, to help young people overcome their ‘poverty of hope’, which include:

  • Children and adolescent mental health services are in need of urgent and sustained investment, which could come from the £20.5 bn a year NHS funding settlement.
  • The Government should ensure all children, young people and parents have access to education and guidance on safe social media use. 
  • The Government should commit to increasing investment in community youth work and safe spaces for young people to provide targeted early intervention in vulnerable communities.
  • The Government should commit to funding a long term, multi-agency strategy to tackle the root causes of youth violence. This approach should provide young people access to housing and a route into education, training and employment, to help them secure a brighter future.
  • Children who are victims of criminally exploitation and forced into gangs, to carry knives, traffic drugs, or commit other offences should not be criminalised. These children should be treated as victims.

The report is available here.