The divide is getting bigger we need to act on this issue says Head of Year 11 - Written by Shazil Talal Y11Posted on: 30/03/2021
How is it that a nation with the 5th largest economy in the world is able to fail 4.2 million children? In recent years, child poverty levels have skyrocketed, which has resulted in 47.4% of children in Waltham Forest living below the 60% median income after housing costs are factored in.
The impact of poverty on children is undeniable and long-lasting as economic hardship can alter the fundamental structure of a child’s brain. Children, who grow up in poverty have higher odds of experiencing poor health problems and mental health problems that often impair overall academic achievement and the ability of children to succeed in school. Many psychologists have stated that kids, who have to deal with poverty at home, struggle to focus and keep up with their classmates and those that experience factors associated with poverty or low parental education have higher than a
90% chance of having 1 or more problems with speech, learning, and/or emotional development.
Life after school doesn’t get much better as there is a greater risk of them dropping out of school, becoming homeless, facing unemployment and not being able to reach ones full potential. This is known as the cycle of poverty, which by definition means a set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention.
However, we can create change to avoid a future of children falling into the jaws of poverty. Change that will impact the lives of so many and in order to fight this barrier facing our children, we must come together as a community. Community development and organisation can help create jobs, so that more people can financially support their families. We can try to donate to charities that specifically work with children, such as Action For Children, Save The Children, Kids Out and BookTrust Appeal. Schools should provide additional mental health support to those from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide opportunities to help kids learn about life outside of school. Childcare becoming more affordable and of better quality would help many parents as they would be able to send their children to a trusted individual whilst being able to work.
Although we can help close the poverty gap with these solutions, we have to admit that revolutionary change can only happen with the work of our local council and government, but it is clear that they are simply not doing enough or do not care for the future of Britain’s children.
'It's surprising that a lot of money comes into Walthamstow yearly, but poverty is still a major issue so where is this money going?' says Mr Chapman (Head of Year 11). This money that is supposedly meant to help the citizens of this constituency is going missing, this should be a large cause for concern and our local council must ensure that this money that is coming into Walthamstow is put to good use. If this money was used in an appropriate manner, it could be used to fund early intervention programmes and targeted support for young people, which includes mentoring. Our local council could think about introducing family friendly services to support families into work, which could include skills development and job clubs. ‘There is definitely more work to be done and it’s very important that we all do more’ added Mr Chapman (Head of Year 11) when asked how we can help more as a society.
Additionally, our government could choose to increase weekly child benefits by only £10 and hundreds of thousands of children would be lifted out of poverty and it still would not scratch the economy. Reducing the complexity of the benefits system to ensure that those living in or on the margins of poverty would be able to receive all the benefits to which they are entitled to would make a much needed difference.
It has become increasingly clear that with all the other issues our communities are having to deal with, change is needed now, and awareness needs to be raised in order to combat this problem, if we continue to keep failing our children I’m afraid that irreparable damage will be created, and we are stopping our children from reaching their potential.
Written by Shazil Talal - Year 11