The Mealtimes for All report is part of our £1 million partnership with McCain.

The report was conducted to better understand the experience of families raising disabled or seriously ill children across mealtimes, family life and the wider community, as well as the barriers faced by all UK families around spending quality family moments together over the course of the pandemic.

The report explores some of the barriers to family life experienced by families raising disabled and seriously ill children, and shows how the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on families' quality time together.

Key findings:

  • Almost nine in 10 families raising disabled or seriously ill children (87%) reported that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mealtimes, while for families without disabled children this figure was much lower at 45%.
  • Nearly half of parents raising disabled or seriously ill children (48%) agreed the different needs of their children stopped them coming together for mealtimes.
  • In the last 12 months, 7% of parents without disabled children have gone without food for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money, but this rises to 20% for parents raising disabled or seriously ill children.
  • Over half of families raising disabled children fear things have gotten even worse for their children, with 58% saying they have become more lonely or isolated as a result of the pandemic.
  • While in a typical week 82% of families without disabled children sit down for a meal as a family on three or more days, families raising disabled children find it harder to get together, with two in three (64%) sitting down for food on three or more days.

As part of this report, Christine McGuinness, mum, TV star and autism advocate teamed up with us and McCain to talk about her shared experiences. Christine met mum Kirsty Waite, whose daughter Heidi has cerebral palsy. You can watch the full video below. 

Mark Hodge, Marketing Director at McCain comments, “We understand the importance of quality time and how much parents value those special mealtime moments together. The new ‘Mealtimes for All’ research has shown us that even against the backdrop of the pandemic where we’ve been spending more time together, for some families the crisis has had a disproportionately negative effect.

"As a family business, we want to shine a spotlight on those families and children who have faced increasing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we recognise that more needs to be done to help these families and drive positive societal impact. Through our partnership with Family Fund, we want to highlight the great work they do in providing the resources for families to enjoy the small things in life, as well as highlight the little moments they treasure, that many of us take for granted.”

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund says, “This last year has been tough on everyone, but at Family Fund we know it has particularly put enormous financial and emotional pressure on families we work with - those who are living on low incomes raising a disabled or seriously ill child. This report highlights how even simply spending time together has been made more difficult by the pandemic as parents and carers have dealt with new challenges every day.

"We're here to make a practical difference to families' lives and working with McCain will help us to support more families and ease some of those pressures that families raising disabled or seriously ill children face, allowing more families to enjoy the same opportunities, aspirations and quality of life that others do."

Read the full report ‘Mealtimes for All’ and find out more about our partnership with McCain.