In Northern Ireland we have 40,000 children living in poverty.  This means that, in every class of 25 children – there are three of them whose parents are struggling to feed them.

The above statistic is a shocking reflection on how we are living.  Those of us with children know only too well how difficult it can be to rustle up a nutritious dinner from whatever random ingredients there are in the kitchen cupboard.  All because we’ve to wait until midnight for our tax credits to clear through the bank.

tabloid report of food bank

Previously, we donated non-perishable food stuffs to charity once a year for Christmas hampers.  But now, these charities are feeding needy people every week through food banks.

And before all the single parents start the woe is me act – it’s not you who is most affected. 

Working couples with school age children are the ones who’ve seen the biggest dent in their income.  These are of course, the couples who’ve ‘gone legit’.  It is these people who are being referred to food banks at an alarming rate.  It’s the workers who get a small amount of Housing Benefit towards their rent who have fallen deeper below the breadline.  Their tax credits have been cut, leaving them with higher childcare costs.  Don’t believe me? Look up the data compiled by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  

In the North – any working person with a child who has transferred from Primary to Secondary education this year will be well aware of the financial loss.  Although their child is still 11 years old, their month of birth eliminates them from qualifying for free school meals and a uniform grant.  Parents will have forked out up to £500 on a school uniform.  Then they have to spend an extra £20 per week per child, on school meals.

The Department of Education say they’re looking into it. 

Whether we align ourselves to Britain or Ireland – we are all suffering the same hardships.  But we can’t sit and moan at the folks on the hill all the time.

AFWRDCchildren playing in 1955

A fat child used to be an indication of family wealth.  Today, it’s a sign of poverty.

There weren’t as many children going hungry in the 1955 recession, and in my own opinion it’s because there weren’t as many technological distractions. 

In those days there was no Iceland, no costly video games being played for hours on end.  No gas heating pumping while everyone runs about the house wearing hardly any clothes.  Children were fed their three square meals per day, they ate what everyone else was eating and they got more exercise. 

As our countries have developed, we have lost a lot of common sense.

Are we buying cheaper frozen food – compromising our health just so we can still keep our luxuries? 

phone and pc

For instance, what kind of digital device are you reading this on?  Could you bring yourself to trade it in for a cheaper model?  Is your Facebook app really that important to you?  Do you have a Sky subscription because you don’t like Freeview?  Have you ever cut back on weekly living expenses because you wanted a night out?

We’re all guilty of the above.

I firmly reject the statement that children are starving.  There is money there, it’s just being spent on the wrong things.  We must make cut backs on things we don’t need. 

And if we want to escape from poverty – we need to accept that our spending habits are part of the problem.