20th June 2022

Family Review: What children told us in our first Call to Action

Today, I am excited to launch the results from the first Call to Action for the Family Review. There was a fantastic response, with over 3,700 respondents telling us about their thoughts and feelings on family, and what their family means to them. Children used over 1000 different words to describe family, highlighting the variety of different ways that children think about family and family life.

The Call to Action is one of many ways we are hearing directly from children and their families as part of the Family Review, a major, research-led Review of modern family life. This independent Review was commissioned by Government to understand the diversity of family life and what can be done to improve services for families.

In this short survey, children and young people were asked to pick three words describing family. The most popular responses were descriptions of people in their family (“mum”, “dad”, “siblings”), words describing how family makes them feel (“love”, “support”, or “safety”) or words associated with family life (“home” or “together”).

When asked to describe what family means to them, many children included personal anecdotes.

Children most often told us about all of the people that they considered family, including their relatives, their friends, and their pets.

“Family means to me spending time together, being loved, feeling safe and my mum, sister and my pets” – Girl, age 9 – 12

“’My family are the people closest to me as a literal definition, but they also include close friends. They are the people that are closest to me and know me well’ – Boy, age 13 – 17

Other key themes mentioned by children of all ages were that family means love, care and support.

“My family means love and they all help me they are always kind at support me whenever I need it.” – Prefer not to say, age 6 – 8

“Family means everything to me. Family celebrates the good times and are there to support you during the bad times.” – Boy, age 13 – 17

To illustrate these stories and highlight the voices of the over 3,700 children who responded to the Call, we have produced an interactive website. The website shows responses to the two main questions, ‘what three words would you use to describe ‘family’?’ and ‘what does family mean to you?’. The latter question can be viewed as an interactive word cloud, where clicking on each word reveals example quotes containing that word, which can then be filtered by age group.

I welcome you to explore these responses, to hear what children think and feel about family, in their own words.