NI executive must prioritise children and young people as much as health and economy: plea from over 50 organisations
Political leaders must make this generation of children & young people as central to the nation’s Coronavirus recovery plans as health and the economy
Today’s children and young people in Northern Ireland are facing unprecedented uncertainty affecting their current childhood and future prospects. As well as disruption to their schooling, living standards and family lives caused by the crisis, they have been growing up at a time where services protecting children are stretched, school budgets under pressure and job losses are soaring.
With family budgets taking a hammering from lockdown, more than 50 organisations including Action for Children NI, National Children’s Bureau NI and Barnardo’s NI and many others, have joined forces to urge the government to prioritise and protect vulnerable children and young people.
The recovery effort offers an opportunity to work together towards better policies for children and young people and requires more meaningful participation from members of the community, health, education, social care and the VCSE services that are providing vital support all across the region.
Those working to protect vulnerable children and young people, including those with disabilities, mental health difficulties, children who have suffered abuse and those from minority communities are hopeful for more engagement with decision-makers about policies that will shape the future and direction of our society.
We ask the government to make a clear statement of prioritising the Children and Young People’s strategy in light of the major impact that has been felt by this group during COVID-19.
Brenda, mum of two, accesses Action for Children’s Sure Start Services and has struggled to make ends meet since the pandemic hit.
Brenda said: “My partner is self-employed and with no work in months, had to apply for universal credit. Our income has not been enough to pay all the bills and we spent our last £10 topping up the electricity.
“We’ve came to rely on the local food bank so that the children have enough to eat. It’s been very stressful and has started to affect my mental health and I can see that’s it’s beginning to impact on the children too.”
Find out more about the campaign on social media using the hashtag #ChildrenAtTheHeart
Over 50 organisations, working across the children’s sector, have signed the statement issue to the Northern Ireland Executive. A full list of supporters is available at https://www.ncb.org.uk/news-opinion/news-highlights/call-put-children-heart-recovery-northern-ireland
Action for Children protects and supports vulnerable children and young people by providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives. With 476 services in communities across the UK, the charity helps more than 387,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers a year. actionforchildren.org.uk