12 Mar 2008

Children’s Commissioner tells the stories behind the child poverty statistics to Assembly Committee. 

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today called on Government to work as one to tackle the scourge of child poverty.

Ms Lewsley launched her policy on child poverty as she presented to the Assembly committee conducting an inquiry into the issue.

“One in ten of our children live in severe poverty. That is too many,” said the Commissioner. “Today I told the Committee of the First Minister and deputy First Minister the stories behind the statistics. 

“While we hear the numbers, the facts, the figures and the statistics we can too easily forget the blight this visits on children and young people 

“Too many families face life in squalor – living with nowhere to play, no chance of escaping poverty.

“I have heard directly from children and seen conditions that are horrible - homes where sewage backs up into sinks and balconies in high rise flats covered in pigeon droppings; children forced to give up school courses because their families cannot afford materials.

“There are those that claim there is no real poverty in Northern Ireland. They have never listened to the stories of the children who are suffering and the families that are trapped in a cycle of despair.”

The NICCY policy document presents 17 recommendations to help eradicate child poverty.

“Put simply I want the Northern Ireland Executive to act as one to end child poverty. All Government departments must act together now,” said Ms Lewsley. 

“They have an ambitious target to end severe child poverty. I hope that Government can achieve this goal, but I fear they won’t. That is not an excuse to stop trying. Instead they must try even harder.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors