'We may all be in the same storm but we are in different boats.'

This analogy found its way onto social media at the start of the pandemic and can highlight the wide divisions between the haves and have nots in our community.

Why is this quote so relevant to the life-changing work we do with children and young people?

Put bluntly, if you’re in a cruise liner it’s much easier to brace yourself for the storm than if you are in a dinghy, and unfortunately 1 in 5 children in Bath and North East Somerset are in the latter, with the slightest sea change bringing fear and uncertainty.

BRF works with children and young people who are born into poverty, have special educational needs and disabilities, or who are marginalised because of their race or gender. Every day we see the effects that the changing environment has on their physical and mental health.

There’s no denying the pandemic caused a storm of epic proportions, and two years on, the luckiest of us are experiencing calmer days.

However, as the economic effects of the pandemic continue to come like waves, it’s the vulnerable who will feel it the most.

Consider some figures:

  • B&NES is ranked 146th out of 151 local education authorities for the ‘attainment gap’ – the gap between the rich and poor.
  • This gap is particularly evident when comparing children who are eligible for free school meals with their peers. At the end of Reception, the expected development gap between the two groups is 28% and at the end of Year 1 the gap in phonics is 20%.
  • A report published by Quartet Community Foundation in 2018 identified that 32% of Twerton residents have no qualifications, placing Twerton in the 10% most deprived areas in the country.
  • Whiteway is in the bottom 1% in the country in its provision of education and training for children and young people.
  • Based on the June 2021 Census 4,237 children in B&NES receive free school meals and 16.6% of children face very low food security.

The pandemic has made the lives of the vulnerable even more fragile.

At BRF, we believe that it’s vital that we take forward with us the values and lessons that we have all learnt over the past two challenging years - ensuring we act as one conjoined community with the shared focus of looking out for each other, to create an environment where everyone is in a bigger boat and no one is left stranded in a dinghy; frightened of facing impending storms alone.