Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cutting off children

This week the National Children's Bureau (NCB), a well respected independent research, policy and lobby group, published a report which concludes that children are bearing the brunt of the recession and austerity measures. Local Authorities have cut services for children and young people such as play, youth work and support for disabled children disproportionately compared to services for adults. And the recession, rising prices and cuts in tax breaks for families mean that children are becoming poorer.

NCB’s chief executive Dr Hilary Emery said, ‘Not only are their services being cut, but their home-life is becoming increasingly more stressful as parents worry about employment and the cost of food and fuel. We know families under stress can lead to an increase in domestic violence, child abuse, mental health problems, drug abuse and alcoholism - all of which have a greater long-term cost to the UK taxpayer.’

Last Saturday Caitlin Moran wrote a powerful piece in The Times magazine describing exactly what it feels like to be poor, to be broke for months and years on end. Only ever having enough to just scrape by day by day; hoping no unexpected expense crops up; then going without and never feeling you can make a change for the better. It makes you feel like you don't exist.

Our photography project is nearing completion. The biggest issues for the children and young people are poor housing and derelict neighbourhoods, they have taken thousands of pictures of boarded up houses, rubble and rubbish. Poor children don't go anywhere unless it is free and within walking distance. Most spent the whole summer on their estate. If there is nowhere for them, the young people hang out in children's playgrounds where adults don't bother them. So the younger ones stay clear of the playgrounds and play on derelict land out of the way.

It is simply not fair to invest less in play and activities for young people at this moment. They need safe places to go to socialise and play outside their home. They deserve to be treated as citizens, valued members of the community not simply ignored.

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