More than 60 representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors are meeting this week to identify how they can work together to help tackle child and family poverty in Calderdale.
The event takes place on Thursday 31 July at the New Beginnings Conference Centre, Nursery Lane, Halifax.
An estimated 9000 children are in poverty in Calderdale, and this half-day event will focus on what can be done in Calderdale to tackle the impacts and reduce the number of children growing up in poverty. Attendees will develop joint priorities that can be taken forward together. They will also discuss how to make the most of the £100,000 fund made available by the Council to support projects to tackle child and family poverty.
Child poverty has long-lasting effects. Three-year-olds in households with incomes below about £10,000 are 2.5 times more likely to suffer chronic illness than children in households with incomes above £52,000. Studies show that children growing up in poverty are four times more likely to remain in poverty when they are adults. They are more likely to leave school at 16 with fewer qualifications, leading to lower earnings over their working life. This has significant effects on both their physical and mental health, as well as educational achievement.
Reducing child poverty is a priority in the Calderdale Wellbeing Strategy, and the Council’s Cabinet has established a Child and Family Poverty Task Force to help drive this forward. Working with a range of people and organisations in the community means greater access to information, expertise and support to address the real issues that families are facing.
The Council has also contacted every primary school in Calderdale to find out what works well with their breakfast clubs and what could be improved. This is because national research has shown that breakfast clubs can improve health and attainment for children from disadvantaged families. The Council has now shared its findings with schools, and is linking them together so they can help each other and share tips on running effective breakfast clubs.
Working with organisations such as Calderdale Credit Union and the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Council is also helping people affected by welfare reform to manage their money better and avoid debt. This supports the Council’s aim for fewer children under the age of five to live in, and be born into, poverty.
The event this week will harness the experience, energy and commitment of a wide range of organisations to make the maximum impact on child poverty.
Speakers from the Children’s Society will open the event and set the scene. Through its work with the Children’s Commission on Poverty, the Children’s Society has brought together a group of 15 young people to investigate what living in poverty really means for more than three million children and teenagers across the country.
Cllr Simon Young, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Health Inequalities, and Chair of the Council’s Child and Family Poverty Task Force, will give an overview of the key challenges and opportunities facing Calderdale. He said:
“The Council and our partners agree that tackling child poverty is a key priority. There is a national discussion underway and the government has just updated its Child Poverty Strategy. At a time when public services are facing budget constraints, different ways need to be found to make an impact locally. The event is an exciting opportunity to bring organisations together to identify actions to make a positive difference to Calderdale children and their families. The Council will review its Child Poverty Strategy to take on board the priorities and views expressed at the event.”