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Help children who live on the breadline in Leeds

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Thousands of children in Leeds are trapped in an alarming cycle of child poverty.

Parents across the city are struggling to make ends meet leaving a devastating impact on their child’s health and wellbeing.

Over 35,000 children and young people in Leeds are living life below the breadline.

The findings were published in a shocking report from Leeds Community Foundation which lays bare a catalogue of problems - including domestic violence and mental illness - facing thousands of young people growing up in Leeds.

The YEP is to look in-depth at each of the issues as the city strives to become one of the most child friendly in the country.

In the last year alone the number of children living in poverty has increased by five per cent - meaning 1,850 more children are in households struggling to pay for food and bills.

Only nine out of 476 neighbourhoods in Leeds have no children at all living in poverty but 92 neighbourhoods were considered to be in the poorest 10 per cent nationally.

Leeds Community Foundation has launched a new Children and Young People Fund to support some of our most vulnerable children.

They believe a large scale effort from government, agencies and organisations can help to tackle issues raised in the report.

The fund aims to support work to help make Leeds become one of the most child friendly cities.

Sally-Anne Greenfield from Leeds Community Foundation said: “We are fully supportive of Leeds’ vision to become the UK’s Best City for Children by 2030. A significant amount of work is being done by Leeds City Council and other partners to make this a reality and initiatives such as Child Friendly City go a long way to involving more people.

“However, we cannot shy away from the fact that there are still some significant issues that need to be addressed and we believe the third sector has a crucial role to play.

“We already work with and support hundreds of excellent projects and schemes who are helping to drive positive changes in Leeds. Our Children and Young People’s Fund offers an easy platform for the Leeds people and businesses to support local community projects and ensure money is being distributed to those who need it most.”

In Monday’s YEP, we will look at the impact of mental illness on the city’s children.

CHARITY OFFERS SUPPORT TO CITY’S CHILDREN

For the last century a Leeds charity has made it its mission to reach out and offer support to some of the city’s most disadvantaged children.

The Leeds Children’s Charity sends hundreds of children for week-long breaks to Silverdale, in Morecombe, every single year.

The breaks give youngsters the chance to forget about their problems at home and allow them just to be themselves.

They are given the opportunity to make new friends and play in a bid to boost their confidence and raise their aspirations.

Charity chairwoman Verlie McCann said often children arrive to them with just the clothes they are stood up in.

And she said she was surprised the number of children reported to be living in poverty in Leeds was not higher than the report states.

She said: “People would be amazed at some of the conditions children in Leeds are living in.

“They live in poverty with little hope or expectation.

“Some arrive with what they are stood up in and some have remnants of shoes strapped to their feet.

“We work with them to give them a break so that they can get away from difficult situations at home and we see a big difference in them.

“They are given the chance to just be children and there is no need to be anything other than themselves.”

But the charity needs to raise around £250,000 a year to survive to help give some of the city’s most vulnerable children a much-needed break.

And Verlie said that support from Leeds Community Foundation has helped them to carry on their vital work.

She said that grants make an enormous difference to the charity’s work and enable them to continue their support.

Verlie added: “These breaks just allow them to be children and to play.

“We see what a difference it makes to these children and donations make an enormous difference.

“Demand is definitely increasing and the current financial situation hasn’t helped.”

 

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