Sunday Express

The kind arm of the law

- By Lucy Johnston SOCIAL AFFAIRS EDITOR

A GROUP of kind-hearted pupils have put pen to paper to highlight the impact of child poverty at Christmas.

The youngsters produced a range of eye-catching artwork to raise awareness of the 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK.

Almost one in three youngsters is from family struggling to make ends meet, and the figure is expected to rise to a record high of 5.1 million by 2022, according to the Department forwork and Pensions.

The pupils, from Rotherhith­e, south-east London, shared their artwork to promote the Christmas Tree Appeal

– a joint venture between the Metropolit­an Police Service and The Childhood Trust.

Come the big day, they hope to hand-deliver 22,000 presents to disadvanta­ged youngsters across the capital, ensuring they have at least one gift to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Under-17s identified as “in need” by social workers, have been listed as the potential recipients of gifts.

They include youngsters who are in care, foster homes, refuges and hospitals, as well as children from very low-income families. Nathan, 11, is one of thousands of disadvanta­ged children supported by The Childhood Trust.

The youngster – who has five brothers aged five, seven, nine, 12 and 16 – told how he has to share his bunk bed with his siblings.

Three of the boys sleep on the top bunk while the others in bed down below.

“I struggle to sleep,” he said. “My brother tells me, ‘You’ve put your leg on my side.you’re putting your head on my pillow’.

“It’s been really hard and mum and dad are stressed.”

Although Nathan insists that having material things is not as important as being happy, he has faced many issues as a result of poverty.

Earlier this year, he outgrew his size five hand-me-down shoes and they became so uncomforta­ble, they “hurt me all the way up to my leg”.

He also told how the family had to limit their electricit­y usage because the “pre-payment key runs out so quickly”.

“I’m not meant to open the fridge door too much because it uses up money,” he said.

“I don’t want a Christmas present this year because I don’t want my mum to have to buy six things for me and my brothers.”

Another youngster supported by

The Childhood Trust is 10-year-old, we are calling Olivia.

She said: “I live in temporary accommodat­ion with my one-year-old baby brother and we have had to move eight times in the space of two years. It is very hard to cope.” The youngster told how her family had endured “rat problems” in one hostel, but added: “Some children won’t even get gifts or good food to eat this Christmas.the Government should concentrat­e on these people, not Brexit.”

Laurence Guinness, chief executive of The Childhood Trust, said: “For most children, Christmas is a time of joy but poverty, homelessne­ss, ill health and family breakdown mean that so many are not looking forward to Christmas.

“We hope that people will be generous and gift a present or donation so that together with the Metropolit­an Police Service, we can make this a Christmas to remember for thousands of children in need across London.” The launch of the Christmas Tree Appeal comes just days after more than 140 charities and charitable organisati­ons signed an open letter to all the political parties.

In it, they demanded that vulnerable youngsters were placed “at the front of the queue” for funding.

A spokesman for the Conservati­ve Party said it was “committed to tackling child poverty” and told how the Prime Minister was keen to give “every child in the country the opportunit­y to make the most of their talents”.

● To buy a present or support a child in need, visit justgiving.com/ metxmastre­e2019. To find out more about taking a present to a London police station, see met.police.uk/ christmast­ree.

‘I’m not meant to keep the fridge door open too much because it uses up money’

 ?? Pictures: PHIL HARRIS ??
Pictures: PHIL HARRIS
 ??  ?? HELPING: The pupils whose artwork is raising awareness of child poverty
HELPING: The pupils whose artwork is raising awareness of child poverty
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 ??  ?? GENEROUS: Laurence Guinness, from The Childhood Trust, and Met Police Chf Insp Penny Hands with some of the donated gifts. Left, one of the children’s posters
GENEROUS: Laurence Guinness, from The Childhood Trust, and Met Police Chf Insp Penny Hands with some of the donated gifts. Left, one of the children’s posters

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