Having been a journalist for many years I am not easily shocked by things I read but I’ve found Save The Children’s new campaign on child poverty in the UK deeply upsetting. Like many parents I know times are tough, but the plight of millions of UK families struggling with rising food prices, energy prices and low wages is just terrible.
The accompanying report It Shouldn’t Happen Here highlights the fact that there are 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK. That’s children who are going to school hungry because they don’t get a proper breakfast. Children who go through winter without a warm coat or a decent pair of shoes. And children who have to sleep on a damp mattress on the floor because they don’t have their own bed. Children who also talk anxiously of how aware they were of the emotional and financial strains that their parents are facing.
Looking around me I can see the story is true. Where I live in London there is a food bank that has seen such a huge increase in parents needing help that they set up a Facebook page to ask local families to donate more food to help keep the stock up. In my daughter’s class there are two kids who tell her they rely on school dinners as it’s the only hot food they get each day.
Telling a friend about all of the above she said she didn’t believe it, not because she’s a stupid person, but because to her it doesn’t feel as if something like this should be happening in the UK in 2012. But it does. And as housing benefits rules are radically changed not to mention other numerous benefits cut, I can only imagine how one income households, or a low income household will cope.
It’s why I’m all for the Save The Children campaign which is asking the government to increase help for families on lowest incomes, and for energy companies to ensure low tariffs for the poorest families. Of course, like all campaigns they also need donations. Primarily towards their Eat, Sleep,Learn, Play programe that supports children living in the most severe poverty by providing their families with household essentials, like a child’s bed, a family cooker or educational books and toys. So far Save The Children have helped more than 2,000 UK families, but the hope is with this campaign that they’ll help many more.
Do you find these child poverty statistics shocking? Let me know.