Category Archives: Children

Working families fall short of minimum living standard

The overall cost of a child over 18 years (including rent and childcare) is £150,753 for a couple and £183,335 for a lone parent. But work doesn’t pay low-income families enough to meet a no-frills standard of living, new research from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows.

Cost of a Child ReportA combination of rising prices, benefits and tax credits freezes, the introduction of the benefit cap and two-child limit, the bedroom tax, cuts to housing benefits and the rolling out of Universal Credit have hit family budgets hard.

Life has been getting progressively tougher for families on low or modest incomes over the past ten years, with families on in-work and out-of-work benefits hardest hit, the report warns.

Despite the introduction of the ‘national living wage’, low-paid families working full-time are still unable to earn enough to meet their families’ needs. The gains from modest increases in wages have been clawed back through the freezing of tax credits.

Even families with two parents currently working full time on the ‘national living wage’ are 11% (£49 per week) short of the income the public defines as an acceptable, no-frills living standard.

The cumulative effect of cuts, frozen benefits and new punitive measures hit lone parents particularly hard. For lone parents, even a reasonably paid job (on median earnings) will leave them 15% (£56 per week) short of an adequate income because of the high cost of childcare. A lone parent working full-time on the ‘national living wage’ will be 20% (£74 per week) short of what they need to achieve a minimum standard of living. However, a lone parent relying solely on benefits will go without 40% of the budget they need for a socially acceptable minimum.

With the introduction of the two-child limit, families with three or more children fare worst – a third child born after 1 April 2017, for whom no additional support will be provided, costs around £86,500 or £4,800 a year excluding childcare.

Larger families on out-of-work benefits who avoid being hit by the two-child limit will instead be hit by the benefit cap which restricts support to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside London regardless of family size. The impact of the benefit cap means that an out-of-work family with three children living in a privately rented home will receive just a little over a third of what they need to meet their needs, with a shortfall of around £400 per week.

The costs of a child are calculated according to a minimum standard of income that covers the costs of essentials such as food, clothes and shelter as well as other costs necessary to participate in society. It looks at the needs of different family types and is informed by what ordinary members of the public feel is necessary for both couples and lone parents bringing up children.

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “Today, the majority of children growing up in poverty have working parents. While the number of parents in work is increasing, income from work alone is not sufficient to enable some to meet their families’ needs or escape poverty and the cost of a child is substantial. There is strong public support for government topping-up the wages of low-paid parents and investing in children is the best long-term investment we can make. By using the forthcoming budget to unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances, the government can take steps towards making work really pay.”

Click here to read the report.

Rise and Shine for Sunrise Walk

This year’s Sunrise Walk takes place in London on Sunday 3 June and is set to see more walkers than ever raising funds for Shooting Star Chase, which provides children’s hospice care for families across West London and Surrey.

Sunrise Walk PosterNow in its sixth year, the Sunrise Walk has so far attracted over 1,400 walkers who have raised more than £250,000. By taking part in the Sunrise Walk 2018, walkers can help Shooting Star Chase reach its target of £90,000, so the charity can continue providing a lifeline for parents, siblings and other family members who are coping with the devastating loss of a child.

A challenge with a difference, the Sunrise Walk takes participants through the picturesque surroundings of Richmond Park, Richmond Hill, The Thames, Ham Common, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace – and the difference? It all begins at 4.30am! Giving participants a chance to see the beautiful sights as the sun rises.

This year, as well as the main 20km route, there is a brand new 10km route, giving everyone from family, friends (and even dogs!) a chance to enjoy the sights at their leisure. The fun doesn’t end when the walk does, as after the walk there will be a celebration breakfast picnic for participants to recharge and refuel.

The funds raised at the Sunrise Walk will help Shooting Star Chase continue to support families from diagnosis to end of life and throughout bereavement with a range of nursing, practical, emotional and medical care.

To find out more about the Sunrise Walk and how you can sign up click here.

Childcare problems cost mums £3.4 million each day

The childcare system is costing mothers in England £3.4 million a day because it prevents them from working, according to new analysis from Save the Children. That’s £1.2 billion every year.

Save the Children logo

The charity estimates there are around 89,000 mothers of children under five who would like to get back into work but say that childcare is the main barrier to doing so.

Steven McIntosh, Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children said: “Mothers describe a childcare system that feels stacked against them. They tell us it’s nightmare to navigate with barriers to work at every turn. The result is an astounding loss in earnings, hitting families already battling to make ends meet. The financial pressure and stress that creates at home is never good for parents or their children. It’s time to make childcare work for families.”

Research shows childcare issues are the number one barrier to work for parents with young children. Despite recent reforms, Save the Children says that parents are still facing sky-high childcare bills and struggling with a complicated system – with almost half of parents saying they have no idea or are confused about what support they should get. The charity says that they are left unable to access the childcare they need to work, which can tip families into hardship.

Bianca, 36, is a Mum from East London with two boys aged three and seven. After working full time for ten years, childcare issues forced her to give up her job as an education team leader in a college.

Bianca said: “ I absolutely loved my job and I could see myself progressing. It was the cost of childcare that made me give it up, because if I’d had to pay for my younger son to be in nursery full-time that would have been a massive chunk of my salary. We made sure we lived within our means but of course you lose out on some things.

“There are a lot of people who have a lot to give to the economy, but childcare is such a massive barrier. The only way you can jump over that barrier is if you’re willing to shell out a lot of money and have little left for three or four years. We did make that choice to have children, but we shouldn’t be penalised for it, and that’s how it feels at the moment.”

Research shows that the average take home pay for a mum working full time is just over £20,000 and almost £45,000 for a couple both working full time. Even taking into account free childcare hours and government subsidies, the cost of childcare for two children can still be more than £8,000 a year. That is 39% of the mother’s take home pay – twice as much as she pays in tax. Parents say that childcare bills are still too high, with many claiming it costs more than their mortgage or rent, or that it doesn’t make financial sense to go back to work.

To address the problems of cost, complexity and accessibility in the childcare system which are preventing parents from working, Save the Children is calling on new government ministers responsible for childcare to urgently set out the next steps to delivering a childcare system in England that is high quality, affordable, easy to use and fits around families’ lives.

BBC Radio Shropshire presenter’s 10,000ft charity skydive

Vicki Archer, a radio presenter who co-hosts the afternoon show on BBC Radio Shropshire, has undertaken a 10,000ft charity skydive to raise vital funds for disabled children in the county.

Vicki Archer, BBC Radio ShropshireThe mother of three, who lives in Shrewsbury, travelled to Tilstock airfield, near Whitchurch, Shropshire, to complete the jump.

Money raised from the hair-raising, free-fall, challenge, has boosted the charity coffers of Caudwell Children, helping them to continue providing practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families in the region.

Vicki, who has been a presenter at BBC Radio Shropshire for the last 10 years, said she was compelled to fundraise for the charity after finding out online about the support that it gives to disabled children.

“I know a lot of people who have children who haven’t had the best of starts in life,” explained Vicki. “By doing something as simple as this, you can help Caudwell Children to provide family support together with a range of specialist equipment, therapies, short breaks and holidays to disabled children.”

Vicki Archer, BBC Radio Shropshire

Vicki is no newcomer to fundraising, but says that this is the most extreme way in which she has raised funds for a charitable cause. She said: “I think many of my friends thought I was going through a mid-life crisis when they found out that I was going to do the jump.

“They could understand why I wanted to do it, but they thought I was mad. I know that my late father would have been proud of me, but I have to say I didn’t really think too much about what I was doing until the day of the jump.”

Vicki says that she would recommend people to take on the challenge.  “Don’t think too much about it, if you’re even considering it, that means that you can do it. Just sign up, it will be the most memorable experience of your life. It’s like watching an action film in 3D but you’re actually in it. And what’s more you’re changing the lives of disabled children. What’s not to love about that?”

Pupils encouraged to find out more about Far East Prisoners of War

75 years afteCOFEPOW Education Programmer the Fall of Singapore in the Second World War, a charity dedicated to keeping alive the memories of Far East Prisoners of War is launching a national education initiative for primary schools.

COFEPOW (Children and Families of Far East Prisoners of War) is to launch its Education Programme at the National Memorial Arboretum on Wednesday 15th February 2017.

The charity has two objectives, to provide and maintain a memorial to all British service personnel who were prisoners of war in South East Asia under Japanese Occupation during World War Two, and to advance the education of the public about prisoners of war in South East Asia under Japanese occupation from 1942–45.

The first objective was reached 12 years ago, when the charity unveiled its Memorial Building at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. With the launch of a competition for primary schools, COFEPOW is now developing its second objective.

Paul Watson, Chair of COFEPOW, said: “One of our functions at COFEPOW is to educate future generations so that our brave ancestors are never forgotten. As a result, we have created this exciting new initiative to help students understand what happened, whilst giving them the opportunity to experience different learning platforms to develop transferable skills for their future – skills such as confidence, teamwork, creativity, communication and working to deadlines.

“Members of COFEPOW are relatives of those who fought and were held captive in the Far East in World War Two. Whilst many of the prisoners are no longer with us, as relatives we saw first hand the lasting effects that the time in prison camps had on these men and women – both mentally and physically.

“We are all extremely proud of our loved ones for their war effort and we strive to ensure that what they went through will always be remembered and respected. By creating this competition, we feel we are helping the next generation to understand a little bit more about the Forgotten War.”

The COFEPOW National Enterprise Competition for Primary Schools will run from 11th November 2017 (Remembrance Day) to 15th February 2018 (the anniversary of the Fall of Singapore).

Working in teams, students will be tasked with preparing a television news report explaining that the war is over in the Far East and that all those held as prisoners will be released and sent home. In order to prepare their news report, students must find out as much as possible about the life of a Far East Prisoner of War.

Once complete, schools will need to send the filmed news reports on DVD to COFEPOW, who will judge all the entries and choose a winner. Students that take part will receive a Certificate of Achievement and the winning team will receive a special COFEPOW VJ Day 70th Anniversary Commemorative Medal for their school.

The programme was prepared in collaboration with Jayne Greene, who is experienced in producing education packages for schools and is a volunteer for COFEPOW.

If you are a teacher, school governor, or otherwise involved in delivering the national curriculum at primary school level, and would like to find out more about this new initiative, you are invited to attend the launch of the COFEPOW Education Programme at the National Memorial Arboretum on Wednesday 15th February 2017, commencing at 1pm.

To book your place at the launch, please email COFEPOW Secretary Alan Wills at alanwills@blueyonder.co.uk or click here for further details. More information for teachers is available here.

Arctic Monkeys elephant hits the streets of Sheffield

The Arctic Monkeys are famous for their love of their home city, and now they have become involved in the biggest mass participation art event Sheffield has ever seen – by putting their own personalised sculpture into the city centre in support of The Children’s Hospital Charity.

The band, on a brAM2eak from touring round the world, visited the charity’s secret elephant warehouse and took a sneak peek at their finished elephant before adding their signatures to the 40kg fiberglass sculpture.

“We’ve never been asked to sign an elephant before,” said bassist, Nick O’Malley.

The elephant, painted by Sheffield based Mural Artists, pays homage to the striking sound wave cover of AM, designed by graphic designer and illustrator Matthew Cooper.

Speaking of his involvement Matthew said: “I was asked to come up with a design for the band’s contribution to The Herd of Sheffield. The black and white oscilloscope from the band’s 2013 album “AM” seemed like a good place to start – a striking, minimal and instantly recognisable design. I sketched out the idea and made numerous adjustments, always with the thought at the back of my mind that ‘less is more’. Finally I handed over the drawings to Sheffield arts company The Mural Artists to interpret as necessary and make it all work seamlessly on the full-size 3- dimensional elephant.”

In a statement released by the band, the Arctic Monkeys said, “We are absolutely delighted to be involved in the Herd of Sheffield and supporting The Children’s Hospital Charity.”

The AM elephant is one of 58 sculptures that will appear throughout the city centre this summer for the Herd of Sheffield – a Wild in Art event brought to the city by The Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity. Sheffield Children’s Hospital is world renowned and treats children from all over the UK and beyond.

Rebecca Staden, Manager of the Herd, said: “The Herd is all about the community coming together as a whole to create something really special. It celebrates Sheffield’s creative status so we’re absolutely delighted that one of the city’s most iconic bands has put their mark on an elephant for thousands of visitors to see.”

The Herd of Sheffield elephants will be on display in locations throughout Sheffield from 11th July to 5th October and will raise funds for life-saving equipment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Prince Harry invites Lesotho choir to perform with Coldplay

Prince Harry has invited a choir from Lesotho in Africa to perform alongside supergroup Coldplay at his Sentebale charity concert at Kensington Palace on Tuesday 28 June.

Basotho Youth Choir rehearsal in MCC

The Basotho Youth Choir rehearse at the ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre

Last week six boys and six girls aged 7-19 arrived from southern Africa in London. They flew from a country with a population of just 2 million to join a bill headlined by a band whose twitter followers top 7 million. It is the furthest any have ever travelled from home. Their flights were supported by Avios travel rewards which is also arranging a sight-seeing tour of the UK capital.

Among the 12-strong Basotho Youth Choir is 16-year-old Relebohile ‘Mutsu’ Potsane. He was just four when Prince Harry first met him during his 2004 gap year visit to the country where one in three children are orphans, only one in five have access to primary school education and more than half the population lives in poverty. Prince Harry founded Sentebale – ‘forget me not’ – in 2006 with Prince Seeiso, who will also be at the concert, to help young people affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

MASERU, LESOTHO - NOVEMBER 26:  Prince Harry hugs 'Mutso' a young boy he made friends with on his first visit to lesotho at the Official Opening of the new Mamohato Children's Centre on October 17, 2015 in Maseru, Lesotho. In a photography project supported by Getty Images the vulnerable children at the Mamohato Camp have been using Instant photography as an educational tool to build interpersonnel skills and creativity. The Sentebale Mamohato Children's Centre at Thaba Bosiu just outside Maseu is Sentebale's first purpose built camp for the disadvantaged and HIV positive childen of Lesotho. Getty Images  Sentebale is a charity started by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho ten years ago to help the vulnerable children of Lesotho.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Prince Harry;Mutsu Potsane

Prince Harry greets Mutsu at the opening of the ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre in November 2015

The choir members have all been supported by Sentebale’s Secondary School Bursaries programme – which covers the cost of school fees, uniform and books for some of Lesotho’s most disadvantaged children without the family structures to care for them – and Care for Vulnerable Children Programme which enables families and communities to provide care, health and education for those most in need.

Music and singing is at the heart of Basotho culture and before arriving in London the choir has spent time rehearsing at Sentebale’s ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre. Its opening in November 2015 was the last time Prince Harry saw Mutsu before they were reunited today in Croydon. The choir was busy rehearsing with Grammy and BRIT Award singer Joss Stone, who visited Lesotho in her role as Sentebale ambassador in 2014, when Prince Harry made a surprise appearance.

Sentebale today revealed that Stone and Sentebale’s first appointed Ambassador, Argentine high-goal polo player, Nacho Figueras have been added to the concert line-up, and that British journalist and novelist Tom Bradby will MC. They join British soul singer songwriter Laura Mvula, African-Norwegian duo Nico and Vinz and BRIT Award-nominated spoken word artist and Sentebale ambassador George Mpanga, aka George the Poet, who visited Lesotho in 2015 for the opening of the Mamohato Children’s Centre. In addition, up-and-coming classical-crossover soprano Alicia Lowes will provide pre-concert entertainment as guests arrive.

Despite progress to reduce the number of new HIV infections globally over the past 20 years and ensure those living with HIV access treatment, HIV is still the number one cause of death in 10-19 year olds in Africa. Lesotho has the world’s second highest HIV infection rate and of 21,000 young people aged 10-19 living with HIV just 30 per cent access treatment. Stigma is the biggest barrier to youth care and Sentebale hopes its charity concert – the first open-air pop concert on the East Lawn – will raise vital funds and awareness. The 3,000 tickets sold-out in less than an hour in May.

Cathy Ferrier, CEO of Sentebale, said: “The world has committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 but ignorance and misunderstanding continues to undermine those efforts. Stigma, discrimination and lack of education about HIV/AIDS means young people in Africa are increasingly dying when AIDS-related deaths are in decline for all other age groups. Together we have an opportunity to end an epidemic that has defined public health for a generation but it won’t go away unless we act now. The Sentebale concert is all about bringing people together to make a difference.”

Sentebale carries out HIV testing and counselling to ensure the other 70 per cent of 10-19 year olds in Lesotho living with HIV access treatment. The charity also provides care and education to orphans, children with disabilities and young shepherds or ‘herd boys’, and last year delivered over 60,000 hours of psychosocial support. Its concert is sponsored and supported by The Handa Foundation, Quintessentially Foundation, Huntswood, Avios, Getty Images, The&Partnership and The BRIT School.

For more information visit www.sentebale.org or follow @Sentebale #SentebaleConcert

Celebrity chefs support Barnardo’s Big Brunch

Barnardos logoSome of the country’s top celebrity chefs have donated mouth-watering recipes to support Barnardo’s Big Brunch, raising money for the most disadvantaged children and young people in the UK in the charity’s 150th year.

Recipes from Barnardo’s ambassadors Fay Ripley and Nina Wadia, as well as Amy-Beth Ellice, Matt Tebbutt, Miranda Gore Browne, Rachel Khoo, Ruth Hinks, Thomasina Miers and Valentine Warner are encouraging people to get involved in the charity’s Big Brunch fundraising campaign.

The annual Big Brunch is an opportunity to get together with friends, family and work colleagues to raise funds for projects that support the most vulnerable children in the country.

Actress and Barnardo’s Ambassador, Fay Ripley said: “I am delighted to give my breakfast pizza recipe to Barnardo’s for their Big Brunch. It was a recipe that I discovered by mistake when frying some eggs at a friend’s house with one pan. It was a big hit and has now become a breakfast and brunch favourite.”

Chef and TV presenter, Matt Tebbutt said: “With fresh and ripe ingredients, my grilled sour dough with goat’s cheese, avocado and mango recipe is perfect for sharing with friends and family. What’s better than raising money for a great cause whilst eating delicious food!”

Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan said: “Hosting a Big Brunch is a really fun way of raising money for disadvantaged children, young people and their families. Thank you to everyone who has organised and taken part in our Big Brunch. We’ve helped millions of children transform their lives during the past 150 years. With your help, we’ll always be here for the children and families who need us now and in the future.”

Holding a Barnardo’s Big Brunch is really easy, simply register online for a fundraising pack  and receive lots of ideas and celebrity recipes.

Toybox charity says humbug to Blue Monday

Monday,18 January has been dubbed Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. But national charity Toybox, dedicated to changing the world for street children, is having none of it!

The charity has vowed to counteract Blue Monday’s depressing effects by dedicating the entire day to a race against the clock to contact as many of their supporters as we can – to simply say ‘thank you’.

Toybox charity logo

According to Fiona Furman of Toybox every time a Toybox supporter shares a story they have read, makes a donation or talks to others about the charity’s work they are changing the world for a child living in poverty or on some of the most dangerous streets in the world.

Says Fiona: “Our supporters have given over 1,600 children in Guatemala access to education and healthcare by securing their birth certificates. Their support of our #StreetSanta campaign in December raised enough money to ensure that over 700 children on the streets were warm and fed last Christmas. Our supporters’ ongoing generosity enables our partners in their outreach work to help children to get off and stay off the streets.”

On Blue Monday, all Toybox’s staff are coming together to make as many phone calls, write as many ‘thank you’ cards and send as many emails as possible, simply to say thank you. During the day they are hoping to reach some 6,000 supporters.


Added Fiona: “We know that things have been really tough over the last few years – for individuals, families and charities – but our supporters have been loyal and steadfast in their support of street children. We think this makes them amazing and we, simply, want to make sure that they know that!

If you want to find out more about Toybox, visit www.toybox.org.uk and follow them using the hashtags #ToyboxSaysThanks #TeamToybox #TurningBlueMondayPink.

Charity toy collection at Bolton laser clinic

Laserase Bolton logoLaserase Bolton is  taking part in Bolton’s Big Christmas Toy Appeal and is collecting toys for local children and young people.

The appeal, which for many years was called the Caring Christmas Appeal, has been rebranded and Bolton Lions, the charity running the appeal in partnership with The Bolton News, has joined forces with Bolton at Home, Urban Outreach and Bolton Lads and Girls Club, to promote one large appeal with the aim of providing 2,000 children with toys this Christmas.

Julie Kershaw, Clinic Manager at Laserase Bolton, said: “We’re pleased to be a collection point for Bolton’s Big Christmas Toy Appeal and we’d urge local people to drop off as many unwanted toys as possible at our clinic on the Royal Bolton Hospital site. We’re sure that our generous customers and staff will help us exceed last year’s donations and provide even more toys for children in Bolton.”

John Crompton, Treasurer of Bolton Lions, said: “We really appreciate the support Laserase Bolton has given us in the past collecting toys for the appeal and we’re hoping that we will have a record year this year. The toys that are collected go to needy children in the Bolton area and, although we are looking for toys to be donated for children of all ages, gifts for the 12 to 16 age range are particularly welcome.”

People can drop off toys at Laserase Bolton during office hours and late nights on Tuesdays until 9pm and Thursdays until 8pm. Laserase will also be open for toy collection from 10am – 2pm on Saturday 5th December and 12th December, as well as Sunday 6th December.

For more information call Laserase Bolton on 01204 570900 or email admin@laserase-bolton.co.uk.