Leeds ideas lab to tackle child poverty rise

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A group of influential people across the city are trying to tackle child poverty with a day long “ideas conference”.

In Leeds, one in five children lives in poverty, or an estimated 33,000 of them.

The rise in child poverty has spurred one man, a Leeds father of two, to tackle the blight after seeing a hard-hitting television documentary.

Mike Chitty, a former community development worker and business consultant, is organising an “Innovation Lab” to disrupt poverty, to be held in Leeds on October 14.

Research found there is a “ring of despair”, a circle of communities which surround the city centre. Levels of poverty listed by parliamentary ward level are: Leeds Central 41 per cent; Leeds East; 35 per cent Leeds North East; 17 per cent Leeds North West; 14 per cent Leeds West; 29 per cent Morley and Rothwell 17 per cent.

Statistics collated by the Leeds Initiative, which brings together the public, private and voluntary sectors to improve the city, found: In Leeds there are 29,695 children aged under 16 who are living in poverty (22.9 per cent of all children); There are 33,295 dependent children aged under 20 who are living in poverty (22.1 per cent of children/young people).

Mr Chitty, from north Leeds, said: “It was while watching ‘Poor Kids’ featuring a West Yorkshire estate and I thought this is disgusting and it’s happening here.

“My wife Anne said: ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’

“It spurred me to dig a little and to start thinking about what could we do to make a difference?”

The plan is to hold the event for a diverse group of people who care enough to look at practical actions that can be done. More than 30 people are already signed up.

He said: “We will use methods designed specifically to disrupt our own thinking and help us look at the issue in fresh ways and will be using approaches drawn from theatre and corporate innovation strategy.”

Go to: http://povertyinleeds.eventbrite.com