Insights into major initiatives aimed at improving the life chances of children and young people in adversity in the UK and Republic of Ireland

Kerry Martin, Matthew Walker, Rachel Classick, Elizabeth Davies, Katherine Aston and Caroline Sharp

11 May 2023

This mapping study aims to provide an understanding of the current  major initiatives supporting children and young people in adversity in the UK nations and the Republic of Ireland. The study focuses on six policy areas: Education, Health, Immigration, Social Care, Welfare and Youth Justice.

Major initiatives are defined by this study as those of sufficient scale and scope to meaningfully improve the life-chances of children and young people. Such an initiative is likely to involve a substantial commitment of resources, be aimed at system-level change and be funded by governments, large philanthropic and/or corporate organisations.

Targeted web searching took place from May to October 2022. The mapping also involved consultation with a panel of sector experts at various stages throughout the project.

Readers can access the full mapping report, which includes a detailed methodology, as well as the individual countries:

Key Findings

  • Sixty-five major initiatives were identified, with some common themes across the five nations. Many initiatives focused on children and young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Some policy areas, such as welfare and youth justice, encompassed initiatives which targeted a range of goals, others, such as health and immigration, tended to focus on a smaller number of issues.
  • A greater number of initiatives were operating in England compared to the other nations. This reflects the fact that England has the largest population with the greatest levels of both public and private investment. However, more of the major initiatives in England focused on a specific policy area with fewer cross-cutting initiatives aiming to address the causes and effects of adversity holistically.
  • Most initiatives were relatively limited in their scope and few were explicit about their approach to supporting systems change. This could reflect lower levels of funding and/or narrow remits and suggests that more strategic and joined-up thinking is required to tackle these complex issues.

This study represents an important first step in understanding how the needs of children and young people in adversity are currently being met and the possible gaps that need to be filled.

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