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1 in 7 children live in poverty in East Lancashire
THOUSANDS of children in East Lancashire – one seventh of the total – are living in poverty, a new report reveals.
The charity Save the Children produced new figures showing that 6,000 youngsters in Blackburn with Darwen and 31,000 in the Lancashire County Council area were in families which missed out on regular hot meals or new shoes.
Their shock warning came as food banks across East Lancashire revealed massively increased demand.
Save the Children, known for helping the world's poor, yesterday launched its first UK appeal saying the nation’s poorest are bearing the brunt of the recession.
The campaign urges the government to focus on support for low-paid families.
The charity defines living in poverty as a annual family income of less than £17,000 and after a statistical survey estimated there were 3.5 million children living below this breadline in the UK.
Blackburn with Darwen comes 45th out of 204 local authority areas in the child poverty league with 6,000 youngsters (18 per cent) affected.
Lancashire county - which includes Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale – comes 101st with 31,000 children (14 per cent) in poverty. Sister Dorothy McGregor, of the Maundy Relief Charity in Accrington, said the report, ‘It Shouldn’t Happen Here’ confirmed it’s experience.
She said: “It’s like going back to the child poverty of the 1960’s but with more fractured families.
“We know of many parents who have to go without food so their children can eat.
“The number of food parcels we are sending out to local families has doubled in the last six months.”
Mark Hirst, of Community Solutions Lancashire, said: “Our foodbanks in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale were sending out 10 food parcels a week to families a year ago. They are now sending out 50 a week.
“That is how bad it has got.”
Ros Duerden, chair of Blackburn’s first ever foodbank, said: “We are now looking for bigger premises and seeking to stockpile more food because the demand is so much higher then we expected.”
SHONA SPENCE knows all about choosing between eating herself or feeding her son.
Last Christmas, the Accrington 38-year-old had to go to Maundy Relief in the town for food parcels, winter clothing and presents to give her son Michael a proper festive season.
Her partner 45-year-old Darren Greenhalgh was in the same boat with his two children Ben, nine, and Grace, seven, who regularly came to stay with the couple, further stretching the family budget.
Things are a bit better for them this year as they now work for the charity in its shops and manage to make ends meet.
But Shona has no doubt about how she felt asking for food, clothes and gifts for the children.
She said: “It was embarrassing, it was horrible.
“We were on benefits and it was really hard. No one likes asking for food but we had to.
“After I split from my husband four years ago things just went down and out of control. Things are better now and we try and give a bit back by working for Maundy and giving our old clothes to the charity for others.
“I never thought it would happen to me.
“I know of lots of other people and families in Accrington in the same boat.”
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