302,158 children living in poverty in the Diocese of SalfordTuesday 27th June 2023
Our diocesan charity is today calling for urgent action to support local children experiencing poverty, as latest figures show a 24% rise in child poverty in the Diocese of Salford compared with the same time last year.
Caritas Salford, which works alongside people across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, is launching its summer appeal and demanding immediate action from government, as need for its services supporting families experiencing poverty in the area rises significantly.
The new figures, taken from research by Loughborough University on behalf of the End Child Poverty Coalition and published earlier this month, show that a staggering 302,158 children in the Diocese of Salford (which covers Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire) are living in poverty. This figure is up by 73,303 when compared with the same time last year – a shocking increase of 24%.
Patrick O’Dowd, director of Caritas Salford, said: “We’re urging local and national government and other key decision makers to act immediately to try and reverse this near catastrophic situation many people are finding themselves in. There’s so much talk and rhetoric, but that isn’t going to help people on the ground – the hardworking people we see every day struggling to feed their family three meals a day or keep a safe, secure roof over their heads.
“Sadly, we also fear these figures are probably only the tip of a very large iceberg, showing only part of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on communities in the area. The reality, sadly is probably much, much worse.
“It’s almost as if people are now so used to hearing the words ‘cost-of-living-crisis’ that it has lost any tangible meaning when repeated in the press or in parliament. But the crisis is certainly real and it’s only going to get worse if things don’t change. We’ve seen that in the appalling increase in the number of children experiencing poverty in the last twelve months and this terrible spiral will continue if action isn’t taken right now.
“This should include changes to policies that support real families who need help immediately, for example by ending the two-child limit on benefits, increasing the number of children with access to free school meals, encouraging employers to pay the real living wage, and addressing other issues at the root cause of poverty experienced by so many.
“In 2023 this shouldn’t need to be said, but we’ll keep saying it until real change happens. We have to, before it’s too late for many hard-working parents and their children.”
The charity, which has a mission to end poverty, runs a range of services for people experiencing homelessness, disadvantage and isolation in the area, and this latest appeal is asking for support to help them reach even more of the families locally that need their help.
Patrick added: “Tragically, these appalling figures don’t come as a surprise as our staff and volunteers are seeing first-hand every day the impact of poverty on the lives of people we work alongside.
“Every day, families come to us who are struggling and having to make heart-breaking decisions on what they can and can’t afford to provide for their children. Often, people who work one or two jobs are having to come to us to use our showers, for example, as they aren’t able to afford the utility bills to wash at home. Those who can’t afford shampoo for their young children, or those going without a meal to enable their youngest family members to eat instead.
“While we’re always here for people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire who need our help, it shouldn’t be down to charities to ensure people are able to have basic human rights and the dignity we all deserve. Please join us in shouting loudly for immediate tangible change and get in touch if you’re able to help support our charity as we work alongside families locally too.”
The charity has shared a breakdown of the shocking extent of child poverty in each of the local authority areas in Greater Manchester and Lancashire covered by the geography of the Diocese of Salford. Find out more and see figures for your community here: https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/poverty
The information has also been promoted via a postcard mailer and social media campaign to raise awareness and encourage support.
Bishop labels new figures as “unacceptable”
Bishop John Arnold, said: “Sustaining and ensuring the human dignity of every person, whether young or old, is upheld, respected and honoured should be fundamental in all of our lives.
“That so many children are experiencing such poverty, suffering and hardship in 2023 is absolutely unacceptable and every one of us, whether we’re a decision maker, employer, neighbour or friend should be doing everything we can to urgently right this terrible situation.
“These latest statistics from our diocese are truly heartbreaking and, while Caritas is working hard on the ground to support people in our communities who need help at this extremely challenging time in our history, true change will only happen by everyone coming together for the greater good and driving forward immediate change. It’s imperative that happens now to ensure that hard-working families across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and beyond can live in a way that is dignified – a way that every adult and child deserves.”
How Caritas Salford can help
Since its launch in 2020, the Caritas Bishop’s Fund has been awarding small one-off emergency grants to families and individuals in crisis. Access to these grants is promoted via Caritas frontline workers and partnership organisations, as well as the diocesan network of schools and parishes. The fund has helped people in many different ways, ranging from supermarket shopping vouchers through to replacement white goods and children’s beds, supporting people experiencing difficulty and poverty.
As well as providing accommodation to support young parents and their infant children experiencing homelessness, Caritas Salford provides tailored support services to school children and their families as they experience difficulties. This work has included working with bereaved children, supporting families where there is young offending and providing counselling services.
The charity also runs a range of other services across the area, including community pantries to support those experiencing food poverty.
Caritas Salford is a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition alongside other charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others – all united in a vision of a UK free of child poverty.
To donate to the Caritas Salford appeal, or find out more about the figures for your local authority area, please visit https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/poverty