Wednesday, 21 March 2018
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June 2017

This June school-gate chat topics include The Cost of Childcare Survey, the Belfast Book Festival and concerns over body image bullying...

NI Childcare Costs Higher Than Ever

Employers For Childcare’s eighth annual cost of childcare survey expects to show Northern Ireland parents are under even more financial pressure than ever before. The charity is appealing to all parents to complete this year’s survey to share their experience of accessing childcare, and the impact that rising costs have on families. Aoife Hamilton, Policy and Information Manager, believes parents here are under increased pressure to afford the costs of having their children looked after while they go to work, commenting: “Since 2010, families have borne the brunt of cuts to a range of benefits and entitlements. In the same period, the cost of childcare has continued to grow and the picture is bleak for thousands of families.”
In 2016, the survey revealed that, on average, a full-time childcare place cost £168 per week marking an increase of £13 per week since the first survey began in 2010. One third of the 6,000 parents who responded reported that their childcare bill was higher than their mortgage or rent payments and a quarter of parents indicated that they were turning to overdrafts, credit cards, loans from family or friends and even payday loans to pay their childcare bill. The short survey is available at with the results available to view on the Employers For Childcare website in November.

Photo Caption
Aoife Hamilton, Policy and Information Manager, Employers For Childcare launches their annual Childcare Cost Survey with Howard Davey, General Secretary, YMCA Belfast Ltd.

Body Image Bullying
Not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters is urging parents to pledge to talk with their children about cyberbullying. In a survey of 2,000 parents of children aged between nine and 16, nearly seven out of 10 (68%) said their top concern on the issue was their children being targeted over their physical appearance, followed by popularity (52%) and sexism (26%).The survey found 10 per cent more boys had been bullied over their body image than girls – reinforcing that boys are under just as much pressure to look good online. Meanwhile the average age the child began to be bullied over their physical appearance was just 11. 

Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, an ambassador for the campaign, said that victims of cyberbullying can find it hard to open up to their parents: "Cyberbullying is challenging much of the accepted wisdom when it comes to how people think children interact with each other. The findings of this survey show that when it comes to body image and issues relating to physical appearance, boys can be just as much of a target as girls. Sometimes children don’t want to talk about what is happening to them online. They may feel helpless or worry their parents will take away their phones or ban them from using tech. But it’s vital that parents learn how to engage with their children in a positive and reassuring way to open a dialogue channel which youngsters can feel reassured, not intimidated by.” 

A Bookworm Fiesta

Get ready to celebrate the wonderful world of books at the 7th Belfast Book Festival. Running from 7 to 17 June, this year’s festival features 11 days of 100 live events and workshops at partner venues across the city. One not to miss is the Festival Family Fun Day on Saturday June 10 at Lower Crescent Gardens (11am to 3pm) where you can meet authors like Annie Holmes the creator of Katherine of Carrick – The Way of the Warrior, a new children’s detective story set amidst the historical location of Carrickfergus Castle. The audio edition of the adventure is sure to become a bestseller as it’s voiced by Morwenna Banks who will be instantly recognisable to children from her roles in Peppa Pig and Danger Mouse.

Image caption - Teo Knox (13) aka Scarecrow, and Evvie Bishop (9) aka Dorothy get ready to follow the yellow brick road to the Belfast Book Festival Family Fun Day. Free to attend, there will be storytelling, arts, crafts, lawn games, entertainment and of course books!  For further details visit

Number Facts

2/3 The number of parents who disagree with penalties for term-time holidays.

57% The number of young people who said that one or both of their parents are by far their most prominent role models.

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