These figures from the End Child Poverty coalition also show that the parliamentary constituency in which the church lies, Gorton, has the fifth highest incidence of child poverty in the country, and the highest outside London. This, to quote a local headteacher is simply ‘shocking.’
Sam Royston, Chair of End Child Poverty and Director of Policy and Research at the Children’s Society says ‘No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children. End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn’t result in spiralling debt.’
Christians have a special care for the weak and vulnerable in society, and especially among them, children. Child poverty is increasing in our country.
Henry Scott Holland (who died one hundred years ago on 17th March 1918) was a highly respected Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral in London with a great passion for addressing the ills of society. Preaching during Lent in 1895 he challenged the terrible housing conditions of his day “How is that a civilised Christian country has failed … to make such things inconceivable, intolerable?” Sadly 100 years on we can ask a similar question.
Scott Holland was convinced that the Church, Christian leaders, all people of faith, must speak out, for the good of all. Coalitions of charities and other groups, including faith communities, should inform the social conscience of the nation, Scott Holland urged his listeners. His words are true for today. Individually, Scott Holland said, we bewail the situation, but, we sit back and permit it… Private regrets have proved powerless.
So what can we do? The work of End Child Poverty and The Children’s Society needs our support, such organisations are campaigning for change.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has reviewed ‘what works’ to reduce child poverty. It’s conclusions include: support Parental relationships, increase household income, better parenting, improving early years (pre school) education, encouraging high quality primary and secondary education in areas of poverty … We can support in whatever ways we can steps like these being made in our community.
As a sign of commitment we can also take small steps either individually or in groups, say of church members. We can creatively encourage and support our parish schools, we can give to local charity shops which sell low cost clothing etc. We can support local foodbanks. We can encourage our politicians to address this situation.
God help us to end poverty in our time.