William Eichler 04 November 2020

Charities tell PM to protect children from ‘winter of hunger’

The UK’s leading children’s charities have joined forces to urge the Government to do more to protect children this winter.

Chief executives from The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, Save the Children, Action for Children and the National Children’s Bureau have written to the Prime Minister calling on him to ‘stop poverty hampering children’s life chances’.

‘With winter approaching and the country about to head into national lockdown once again, the most vulnerable children and their families are already feeling the impact of the pandemic on jobs and livelihoods, which has heightened the challenges they already face,’ the letter reads.

‘The children and families we support through our services have been telling us that they’re worried about access to food, finance and basic essential items over the winter. To stop poverty hampering children’s life chances and to give disadvantaged children and families across our country the strongest start, we need to tackle this endemic problem.’

The open letter, which follows a similar letter from faith leaders, calls on the Government to extend the provision of free school meals, invest more in children’s services, improve the welfare system, and tackle educational inequalities.

The charities welcomed the public engagement in recent weeks with the issue of free school meals, which was in part a response to the footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals over the holidays. However, they insisted that a more systematic approach needed to be taken to end child poverty.

‘Effectively tackling poverty and inequality needs an overarching approach, including but not limited to free school meals,’ the letter reads.

‘As children’s charities delivering services in communities across the country, we see, at first hand, the case for investment in children’s services, early help for families and holistic work to tackle all forms of neglect and abuse.’

The letter also warns of the harm caused by ‘digital poverty’ and says these issues are particularly acute for children from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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