Thursday, 20 January 2011

Child Poverty - definately not a thing of the past

This poster is part of the rolling digital display on the departure boards at Newcastle Airport, you can also find it on the Children North East facebook. 7 million passengers a year pass through the airport and all of them look at the departure boards so we hope it will have impact. This is our theme for our 120th anniversary year, we are very pleased with the image and hope it will appear in other places too. The picture also includes our ‘120 years’ logo.
The picture incorporates a photograph from our 1890’s archive of one of the 'street vendors' that our founders set out to help. In those days poverty was more visible - there would have been dozens of children without shoes, indeed one of the first acts of our charity was to set up a store of donated boots and clothing. It is rare to see children on the streets with no shoes these days but no one knows how many children are wearing shoes that are too small because their parents cannot afford new ones - just one of the ways in which child poverty has become 'invisible'.
We are joining with the Beatrice Webb Memorial Trust to host a national conference about child poverty in Newcastle this autumn which will also be the culmination of a photography project with 1,200 children and young people – 100 in each North East local authority area from Northumberland to Teesside. Working with existing groups, we will invite children and young people to take photographs that illustrate what poverty means to them where they live now – despite all the work on child poverty in our region in recent years, this will be the first time children and young people will be able to contribute to the debate on a large scale. The photographs will form an exhibition at the conference then hopefully tour museums and libraries all over the region as well as online and illustrate a national report on poverty the Beatrice Webb Foundation will I hope that the project will also help us identify where to target our resources to best effect.

Friday, 7 January 2011

VAT at 20%

So what relevance does the rise in VAT have for children, after all children's clothing and basic foods are still exempt from VAT? It's petrol, the average price per litre before the increase was £1.25 and now it is £1.28, up 3p a litre. For many years Children North East has worked in the most rural parts of Tynedale. We know a lot about life for families on low incomes living in 'rural isolation'. Public transport is virtually non existent in most places so families need a car in order to do the basics - to get to food shops, the GP, a chemist. Every parent knows how important the GP and a chemist are when you have small children. Running a car is expensive even if the car you have is an old one - insurance, tax, MOT, servicing, replacement tyres and so on. Now add to that petrol prices at a record high. If you have ever bought petrol in an isolated spot you will know it is more expensive than town anyway and now it will be even more so. Parents will think twice about using cars other than essential journeys. How many families will decide that trips to the swimming pool or soft play with the children are no longer essential. It may seem like a small sacrifice but the impact on children will be fewer opportunities to socialise, to play and to widen their horizons.