On Friday 18 November the BBC broadcast its annual Children in Need appeal. With this in mind it seems pertinent to reflect on both the charity and broader understandings of children in need. Children in Need the charity has been in existence since 1980 and has raised approximately £650 million pounds (including the £46 million raised so far this year). Terry Wogan (the primary host of the event from 1980 – 2014 inclusive who died in January 2016) and his contribution was remembered during the annual Telephon and online. #ChildrenInNeed trended all evening and alongside tweets referring to the stories told on the night, the celebrity appearances and the growing total there were many others focusing on how life is getting harder in Tory Britain for an increasing number of children. There was also some reference to the government’s announcement, that day, of its support for the 10 year refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. For example:
#ChildrenInNeed has raised over £600 million in 33 years. The Government has pledged £369 million to Buckingham Palace in one afternoon.
The following article is one among many recent pieces highlighting the increasing problem of child poverty in the UK: ‘A generation of UK children will suffer in poverty. Suddenly that’s normal’ Frances Ryan in the Guardian Thursday 10 November 2016. It includes the following:
Nearly half of children are now living in poverty in some parts of the UK, research by the End Child Poverty coalition has found. . . . and the truth is, things are only going to get worse. The UK is set for the biggest increase in child poverty in a generation, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies projecting that relative child poverty will rise by a staggering 50% by 2020. The new lowered benefit cap alone could push 40,000 children below the breadline. This Christmas, the number of homeless children will hit an eight-year high; more than 120,000 children stuck in temporary accommodation with almost 13,000 sleeping in B&Bs, hostels, or other emergency shelter.
So despite the warning last year - ‘More than 103,000 children 'homeless at Christmas' in England’ according to the BBC in December 2015, there is a 15% child homelessness rise from last year. In addition zero hours contracts, low wages and increasing cuts to benefits lead to more dependence on food banks and as MP Mhairi Black reminds us ‘Donald Trump’s not the biggest worry if you are hungry’ The National Saturday 12 November 2016.
And there are other things to seriously concern us. For example:
By 2020, 92% of English primary and secondary schools will see their budgets slashed. . . . The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) have put together School Cuts – a website showing the true extent of the Tories’ planned massacre of children’s education. You can search for schools in your area to find out just how much they will be affected – and, let me tell you, it is simply shocking - Jess Miller in Evolve Politics on Sunday 6 November The Tories’ £2.5bn education cuts will devastate your local school
Almost 600 children disappeared last year, with more than 200 still missing, ECPAT UK and Missing People said.
The study, which will be presented in parliament later, found 167 children - more than a quarter of all trafficked children in the UK care system - went missing at least once in the 12 months to September 2015. . . . They say the figures suggest the UK's child protection response was "inadequate" and the system has left children vulnerable to being trafficked again and open to abuse - BBC on Tuesday 15 November Child trafficking: Scores missing from UK care homes.
In 2015 Children in Need raised £37 million. Compare this figure to the £34 billion ‘tax gap’ (the difference between the revenue that should be collected by the HMRC each year and the amount actually received) - UK tax fraud costs government £16bn a year, audit report says by Rajeev Syal in the Guardian December 2015.
And although ‘One in 8 (12%) people in the UK had given money to a charity that supports refugees’ NPT UK many still buy ‘newspapers’ which such headlines as:
They don’t look like children to me
Give child refugees dental tests to verify age, says David Davies
Coach loads of Calais ‘children’ with no links to UK arrive
In addition to the basic material necessities of life most of us would agree that children also need emotional support, kindness and love. Thank goodness then for people like Ewan Somerville (an A Level student from Devon) and his neighbours:
Dear The Daily Mail: Here In Devon, We Welcome Refugees - Ewan Somerville Tuesday 1 November Huffington Post
You may have heard that up to 70 child refugees have been temporarily settled in Devon. Indeed, refugees between 16 and 18 years old from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan and Eritrea are currently in the community in which I live, North Devon, near a town called Great Torrington.
We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome these young refugees to our area, and the solidarity with which our community has acted to make them welcome is truly heart-warming, and only right. Indeed, Devon Country Council says it has been “inundated” with compassion since their arrival, with retired and current health professionals offering medical assistance, and others offering language skills and translation, as well as sports and other activities. …
It baffles me how we have so many compassionate communities in this country, like Devon, their arms wide open to host these refugees, yet certain quarters of the press feels it apt to launch witch-hunt. Here in Devon, we have demonstrated that, as much as they would like to, The Sun and The Daily Mail cannot dictate our political opinions and actions. They are anti-refugee; we are not.