Families are being urged to join the fight against child poverty as a series of public consultation events organised by the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission picks up pace.
On the back of new Office for National Statistics figures which reveal 39.6 per cent of Birmingham’s neighbourhoods were among the most deprived 10 per cent nationally (1), commissioners today October 13) are visiting a local school to talk with children about their lives and experiences.
The visit to Future First Independent School in Hockley follows a bus tour of local organisations on Friday including the Amirah Foundation, which supports homeless and vulnerable women and children, the Oasis Academy Foundry Primary School in Winson Green and St Boniface Church in Quinton, which also supports vulnerable families.
The commission, chaired by Matthew Reed, chief executive of national charity The Children’s Society, and established by Birmingham City Council, is looking at ways to tackle child poverty in Birmingham and ensure all children have access to opportunities in life.
Its public consultation programme revolves around visits to family fun days and events that community-based organisations are already holding, as well as specially-arranged visits for commissioners.
Representatives from the commission spend time at the events listening and recording the views of those that are willing to share their experiences.
The commission is calling on parents and children to share their experiences of how they have been affected by poverty and ideas they may have around tackling some of the root causes.
Ahead of the launch of its consultation programme, the commission published a Child Poverty Needs Assessment – based on previous ONS figures – which revealed that almost half of all Birmingham children lived in England’s poorest areas.
The Child Poverty Needs Assessment brings together statistics highlighting the scale of the challenge and some of the reasons why children grow up in poverty. It reveals that 37 per cent of children in Birmingham live in poverty after housing costs, while poverty levels are above the national average in more than three-quarters of city council wards. In Sparkbrook and Nechells nearly half of all children live in poverty. (2)
The commission includes representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the University of Birmingham and Barnardo’s, and is focusing upon five themes: the economy/unemployment, in work poverty, education, health and transport.
It is gathering the views of representatives from all of those sectors including people who work with children, health experts, politicians, business representatives, faith groups and academics. But above all, it wants to hear from families and young people.
Matthew Reed, Chairman of the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission and Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “It is vital that we hear about experiences of poverty from the children and families affected and the community groups and organisations which work with them.
“These events help us to identify both measures which can make a difference in the short-term and changes which will tackle some of the fundamental causes of child poverty in the future.”
Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
People are also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its @FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty. You can also visit its website at www.brumchildpoverty.wordpress.com
The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.
Notes to Editors
(2) Figures were calculated using data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation, census and Office for National Statistics population estimates. Of the 639 Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in Birmingham, 245 are in the top 10 per cent most deprived nationally. Of the 280,023 children in Birmingham, 136,848 live in these 245 Local Super Output Areas – 49 per cent. LSOAs are small geographic divisions with a population of at least 1,000 which are used to measure indices of deprivation – there is an LSOA for every postcode.
The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.