‘We fear many children in Wales are having their childhood blighted by poverty’

Children growing up in poverty will be the focus of an event led by the Church in Wales with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales at the National Eisteddfod next week.

It is estimated that 200,000 children in Wales are living in poverty today, with cutbacks in benefits and public funding for family services significantly adding to the problem. The Welsh Government recently said it would not be able to reach its target of ending child poverty by 2020.

Archbishop John will introduce a panel discussion to highlight the issue and provide an opportunity for people to explore what can be done to help those in need.

The event will begin with an interview by the Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Dr Sally Holland, about her research work this year on childhood poverty.

The discussion will then open to hear from people involved in church projects directly helping families in poverty:

  • The Revd Catherine Haynes, children’s adviser for the Diocese of Monmouth, will describe her parish’s work at the Tŷ Price centre to set up and run a ‘holiday hunger’ scheme to provide packed lunches for children at a summer play scheme in Monmouth https://typricehall.co.uk/;
  • Cherrie Bija will talk about Faith in Families, an initiative she leads for the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon to support families in disadvantaged parts of Swansea. http://www.faithinfamilies.wales/
  • Samantha Duggan from Plant Dewi, a children’s project run by the Diocese of St Davids, will describe her work helping young parents, including a ‘Baby Bundle’ scheme to provide essentials for babies http://www.plantdewi.org.uk/
  • Sian Cheeseman also from Plant Dewi, will talk about her work with the Tŷ Mair family centre in Burry Port

Archbishop John said: “Poverty in childhood is an issue the Church is acutely aware of due to the work of our family centres, community projects, foodbanks, holiday hunger schemes and our collaboration with the Children’s Society. We see at first hand how poverty is affecting children across Wales and how the demand for these services continues to increase. We fear many children in Wales are having their childhood blighted by poverty – a ‘poor upbringing’. We welcome this opportunity to highlight our concerns and help inform the Children’s Commissioner’s work this year on child poverty.”

The Children’s Commissioner, Dr Sally Holland, says, “Without a doubt, child poverty is the biggest challenge facing Welsh Government today. We know the scale of the problem, and we know that those families in the most vulnerable positions need more help.

“Churches do some important work to support families who are living in poverty, including food banks, and organising free packed lunches for children at holiday clubs over the summer to replace their free school meals and ensure they don’t go hungry. These are some examples of the initiatives that can really make a difference to the most vulnerable families.

“This year, my office will be meeting with children, parents and professionals from across Wales to hear what they think needs to change, and what extra support they need. We’ll then be recommending concrete steps that Welsh Government and local authorities can take to reduce the impact of poverty on the most vulnerable children and their families.”

The event, which is open to all and is free, will end with time for questions and comments to the speakers from the audience.

It takes place on Wednesday, August 8 at 11.45am -12.45pm at the Harbour Room in the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action office (WCVA), Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff CF10 5FH.

The event is part of the Cytûn – Churches Together in Wales – week of Eisteddfod sessions. Everyone is invited to a short prayer service before hand at 11am at the Cytûn tent on the Eisteddfod site. For information about other events organised by Welsh churches at the Eisteddfod, see http://www.cytun.org.uk/Amserlen_Cytun2018-A3.pdf