For over seven years, the UK government has been pursuing a programme of austerity, dramatically reducing the money available to support public and voluntary services. This has put significant strain on public services, especially within cities where such services must cater to larger populations with a range of different needs. Today, many services have now closed.
Research on the impacts of this service reduction has tended to focus more on some groups than others, with little work focusing explicitly on first time parents. New parents often heavily rely upon, and benefit from, many of these services. Our project will address this gap by taking an interconnected look at how new parents experience daily life in the context of funding cuts. We want to understand the everyday routines of new parents, where they go to access support, and how these different forms of support relate to one another. We will also examine how austerity has impacted upon the support available to new parents, and how parents have responded to these changes.
To investigate this we are conducting a pilot study in Oxford through interviews and participant observation with parents. Throughout the project we intend to work with policy makers, charities, healthcare providers, and others involved in supporting new parents. In doing so, we will ensure our research informs understandings of better support for new parents under the challenges of austerity.