Sunday, August 26, 2018

Child Poverty in Wales

Youngsters are "walking the streets hungry" in the holidays and a new approach to helping is needed, according to the Church in Wales. Children's Commissioner Sally Holland described child poverty as the "biggest issue" facing the Welsh Government. Holland said: "We know the scale of the problem, and we know that those families in the most vulnerable positions need more help."

While the Church in Wales provides food packages in communities, it said it was concerned many children were missing out. The Church in Wales gives lunches - a roll, fruit and snack - to 900 youngsters at summer clubs providing sports, play and acting in Wrexham, Flintshire and Conwy. Since they started the project three years ago, numbers of clubs have reduced because of budget cuts where some schemes ran every day but have now been cut to a few hours a few days a week.
About 2,500 children have had meals at 56 schools in 16 areas through a Welsh Government scheme this summer. This was despite 64,882 pupils aged five to 15 being eligible for free school dinners in Wales in 2017-18.
Also this summer, the Trussell Trust said it expected to hand out more than last year's 5,382 emergency packages, and Flintshire council called for others to follow its lead in handing out holiday lunches.
Sarah Wheat, the Church in Wales' engagement officer in the St Asaph diocese, said, "You have an extra 60 or 70 children in some areas walking around the streets, with nothing to do, bored, hungry," she said. "What are they going to do? Nothing good. Next year we may not have some of the summer schemes we have now and it's heartbreaking," she added.
There are many schemes with children from "challenging backgrounds" she added, and said the fact holiday clubs were disappearing because of budget cuts was "storing up issues" and "short-sighted".
Rev Catherine Haynes said people consider Monmouth "a posh town" but it was a "town of two halves" with a significant number of families living in poverty. Her church, St Thomas, set up the Ty Price community centre a year ago to help and it has been providing meals to 90 children this summer.

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