Luke Bramhall, our School Research & Delivery Lead, looks at the impact of snow on the most disadvantaged children.

As I look out of the window and see the snow falling to the ground yet again I have to wonder how poverty proofed the weather has been! What is it like for a child living in poverty when it snows?

We have seen the impact of the ‘beast from the east’ on all aspects of life, the traffic coming to a standstill, reports of gas running out, and of course schools closing left right and centre. As a child living in poverty I do wonder how much harder this weather has made life for them.

First of all let’s consider the impact of a closed school. Free School Meals not readily available and for some this may also mean no free breakfast club and snack at break time. Food banks must have been busy, although accessing a food bank may have been problematic as we know transport links have been poor. As a parent your children are suddenly in the house all day and therefore you need to have the heating on more, as long as you can get to the local shop to top up your meter. What about if you are on a zero hour contract and as a parent you have to turn down work because there is no alternative child care, or you have to miss a shift, unpaid because you need someone to be at home with kids.

You may think that it would be great for a child having time off school, they can go outside and play in the snow, go sledging and build snowmen. However these are sometimes activities that have those hidden costs. Well first of all it seems as if gone are the days that bin bags were used as sledges. My local DIY store has sledges on offer – £15 a sledge, or you could upgrade to a toboggan for £20. I expect many families see this as well out of reach. But just being outside is expensive, to have a thick warm coat, boots, hats and gloves that are going to keep the wind chill down is an expensive task. These are not every day ordinary items that you have in the back cupboard, and the result of not being wrapped up warm is of course the impact on health – especially if you are coming in from a day in the snow to a house that is somewhat cold, somewhat damp, with limited hot water.

So lets be aware that while a snow day is a good day for some, a frustration for some, and an exciting time for others, consider the additional difficulties it presents for families living in poverty. And lets be clear that the number of families in this situation is drastically rising.