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Every child deserves a chance

I’ve been extremely privileged in my time working at Save the Children to have met incredible people from all around the world, in countries that you’d never choose to visit on holiday hearing the about the lives of those less fortunate – whether children caught up in conflict, mother’s whose young children have died, families living in the most deprived slums or children who’ve lost their mums in child birth.

The one place I haven’t reported on is the one right under my nose — the UK.

1.6 million children live in severe poverty in the UK. What this means is that children are going to bed hungry, or cold, their bedroom might be covered in damp or they might have to share a bed with a couple of other siblings. They’re unlikely to experience a holiday and probably miss out on school trips.

Visiting families living with this constant juggling act, speaking to mothers who go without supper themselves so they can afford to feed their children was a real eye opener. It shocked me to think that this is going on down the road from where I live. London has four of the top ten local authorities where severe child poverty is the worse — Hackney, where I live, being one of them.

“Being a mother of four and a single parent is a hard juggling act to make ends meet,” said a single mum I met called Julie. “I have to buy my children’s school uniform and school shoes so they don’t have to walk in the street with holes in their shoes and get teased, just because I’m a lone parent.”

Julie, mother of four children, struggles to make ends meet
Julie, mother of four children, struggles to make ends meet

She carried on to explain, “All these rising costs is making life harder for people like me, juggling bills and looking for bargains. It makes life much harder and it’s going to put poor people like me into a worse position. I see people sleeping rough and I wonder what happened to their job and home. I don’t want that to be me one day.”

Despite all of this worry and weight on her shoulders Julie still manages to have so much optimism. “I want my children to go to school, to graduate and get a job, to be able to stand on their own two feet,” she told me. “I want them to be able to provide for their families.”

We all need to help children like Julie’s to shine. Every child should be born with a chance. We’re doing all we can to help children in the UK — get on board and help us.

Read our latest report on severe poverty in the UK

For too long low-income families have paid extra for energy bills, credit, cookers and other goods than their better off peers. Sign our petition calling on Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to make it law that all vulnerable groups, including low-income families, are eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme.


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