Tuesday 1 April 2014

Through Young Eyes: Three Million Children in Poverty

In the UK today, three million children are living (read: surviving) below the poverty line. 4,584 of these children live in the same parliamentary constituency as me (Stockport), and make up 24% of the total child population of the constituency (according to these 2012 figures). These figures are now two years out of date, and it is safe to assume that the situation has worsened since then.

The Children’s Commission on Poverty was set up by The Children’s Society last year to give a voice to the children and young people living in poverty. As is far too often the way, those who truly need it, are the ones denied the voice. Politicians discuss solutions without ever talking to those affected by the problems. The Children’s Commission aims to end that. A team of 15 young people are leading an 18 month investigation into what life is really like for those three million children. The Commission exists to bridge the gap between the decision makers, and the children whose futures are being decided in Parliament.

Growing up in poverty has a detrimental effect on the future of young people. Children living below the poverty line are:
  • less likely to go to further education
  • more likely to live in poor quality housing
  • more likely to experience social exclusion
  • likely to suffer poorer physical health
  • more likely to suffer from mental health problems
  • more likely to be victims of bullying

Financial worries do not just affect adults and parents, children are also losing sleep and suffering ill health as a result of financial insecurities. The Children’s Commission has found that children living in poverty are not only aware of the financial problems faced by their families, but are very worried about it.

These children are not often given a voice. They are not seen on the news discussing how cuts and falling pay has affected their families, and they are not receiving the column inches they deserve to share their story. The Children’s Commission was launched last year, and has already heard from thousands of children about their experiences of poverty.

At the end of the investigation, a final report will be released detailings the findings of the project. The Children’s Commission is not only looking to understand life for children living in poverty, but also how this can be turned into meaningful action. The Children’s Commission wants to put these three million children in touch with politicians, in touch with the media, and in touch with the campaigners and policy-influencers who fight on their behalf

The Children’s Commission wants to hear from you. Are you one of the three million children, or one of their parents struggling to make ends meet? Do you work with children affected by poverty? The Children’s Commission wants to hear your story, and to make sure other people hear it too. You can contact the Children’s Commission here to help them see poverty through young eyes.

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